Southern states show support through large Israel Bonds investments

Dani Naveh, president and CEO of Israel Bonds. Credit: Courtesy of Israel Bonds.

Throughout the region, state governments are putting their money behind their words in expressing solidarity and confidence with Israel.

Several states are increasing their investments with the Development Corporation for Israel, also known as Israel Bonds. In recent years, numerous states have legalized the investments for a wide range of investment portfolios.

Florida has announced several Israel Bonds purchases since the war began. On Oct. 11, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced a $25 million investment in Israel Bonds, making Florida’s holdings $80 million, the most the state has ever held.

“Florida and Israel have deep economic and personal ties, and our state unequivocally stands with Israel following the heinous Iran-backed terrorist attacks this week,” Patronis wrote on Oct. 11. “To the people of Israel, Israeli Americans, and Jewish Floridians across our state, Florida is proud to stand with you.”

The clerk of Palm Beach County, in an Oct. 11 visit to B’nai Torah in Boca Raton, announced a $25 million investment in Israel Bonds. Joseph Abruzzo said they were the first county in the nation to increase their investment in Israel Bonds since the war started.

That was followed by the announcement on Oct. 31 of an additional $120 million in Israel Bonds purchases by the state. Saying he was proud to announce the additional investment, Patronis said “Israel Bonds are a prudent use of state funds and offer a consistently positive return on investment.”

Also on Oct. 31, Palm Beach County announced an additional $135 million, “the single largest one-time investment in Israel Bonds” as a followup to the $25 million earlier in the month. Abruzzo said “to make that investment with our greatest ally, in one of the safest investments we can make – as Palm Beach County’s treasurer and CFO, it’s a win.”

The county has an investment portfolio of approximately $4 billion.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Treasurer Young Boozer announced on Oct. 20 that the state will increase its Israel Bonds investment. On Oct. 30, Boozer said the state will purchase $6 million in bonds on the Nov. 1 issue date, adding to the $4 million the state already holds since the Legislature approved such purchases in 2016.

The governor’s office said the state had been “placed in the forefront of the list of institutional buyers” for the new offering.

“Alabama unapologetically and unequivocally stands with our friend and ally Israel. I am proud our state will increase our investment in Israeli bonds as they rightfully defend themselves and fight for their people,” said Ivey. “The state of Alabama was the first state to recognize Israel as a nation, and we will always support them as one of our closest and strongest allies.”

Boozer spoke of Israel’s ability “to weather storms and emerge stronger.”

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Oct. 13 instructed Treasurer Steve McCoy to purchase an additional $10 million in Israel Bonds, the highest amount available on the market. After the purchase, Georgia will have $25 million in Israel Bonds, with the state having purchased an aggregate of $50 million, half of which have since matured.

Kemp led an economic mission to Israel in May, with his wife and three daughters. Part of the itinerary was areas where Hamas attacked on Oct. 7.

Kemp said “Israel is one of Georgia’s strongest allies and greatest friends, and our support for its people as they endure horrific attacks from terrorists is unwavering.” He urged Georgians to pray or Israel’s safety and “swift victory.”

On Oct. 27, Arkansas Treasurer Larry Walther announced an additional $10 million investment, bringing the state’s holdings to $57 million.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, “Arkansas state government has taken every action in our power to support our friends in Israel in their time of crisis. Treasurer Walther’s purchase of $10 million in Israel bonds allows us to support that country in actions as well as words. Arkansas stands with Israel.”

Walther added that “Those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed.”

Mississippi Treasurer David McRae issued a statement on Mississippi’s bond with Israel, saying “To say that I condemn these barbaric attacks is an understatement.”

While he said as a treasurer of Mississippi, he has limited influence on foreign policy, he noted that starting in 2019 the state was allowed to place excess general funds into Israel Bonds. “Not only is this a safe investment, but it provides a higher rate of return compared to many other options,” he said.

Since 2019, Mississippi has earned over $1.7 million on its initial $20 million investment.

He also noted that the state has received investments from Israel, such as Stark Aerospace in Columbus, which produces key components for the Arrow 3 defensive missile.

“Now more than ever before, our friendship with Israel must be unwavering,” McRae said.

Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder announced on Oct. 12 that he was directing the state to invest another $5 million in Israel Bonds. A 2004 law allows the state treasurer to invest up to 5 percent of the Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund and the Millennium Trust Fund in bonds from other countries.

“When called upon to support our friends, I am confident in executing my charge as Treasurer and investing more funds in DCI bonds,” Schroder stated.

The $5 million brings Louisiana’s holdings of Israel Bonds to $30 million.

Schroder also issued a warning to any Louisiana business owner contemplating a boycott of Israel. State non-discrimination provisions prohibit executive branch agencies from executing a procurement contract with a vendor engaged in a boycott of Israel.

“Louisiana stands firmly with Israel, a country with which we enjoy mutually-beneficial trade relations and consider a faithful friend,” said Schroder. “Especially now as they are forced to fight against terrorists, they deserve our support.”

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced on Oct. 13 that the state is purchasing another $20 million in Israel Bonds, bringing their current holdings up to close to $100 million. Texas has purchased Israel Bonds every year since 1994, with $140 million in purchases since 2014.

“They are our friend and ally, and Texas supports their right to defend their people against these cowardly terrorists. We will stand with them, and we will provide them with the financial liquidity needed to respond to the atrocities we’ve all witnessed,” he said.

Hegar also reminded that the state is prohibited from contracting with companies engaged in boycotts of Israel. There is currently a list of 11 such companies at the comptroller’s office.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced his campaign is purchasing $3 million in Israel Bonds. The amount is what he received this summer from Defend Texas Liberty, which caused a controversy when its president met with white supremacist Nick Fuentes in early October.

House Speaker Dade Phelan called on Texas politicians to redirect funds they had received from that organization to pro-Israel groups.

Patrick, who initially called the Defend Texas Liberty meeting with Fuentes a “serious blunder,” noted on Oct. 9 that he had condemned Fuentes, “an avowed anti-Semite,” and is appalled at learning of antisemitism among some Texas conservatives and Republicans. He urged fellow Republicans to review applicants’ social media before hiring.

As of Oct. 16, before many of these purchases were announced, Israel Bonds said over $200 million had been raised, “sending an emphatic message of hope to the people of Israel and the global Jewish community.”

Before the war began, Israel Bonds was close to its annual goal of $1 billion in sales.

Israel Bonds CEO Dani Naveh said the support from the U.S., which cuts across partisan lines, “is incredible.” He noted that “the response across many U.S. states was immediate and demand exceeded the amount of Israel Bonds that we were able to sell at that time. At the same time, thousands of Jews from all over the world have been expressing their support for Israel by also purchasing bonds for themselves and on behalf of various organizations such as hospitals, emergency service organizations, and an organization supporting Israeli soldiers.”

New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio were among the initial wave of purchasers, at $20 million each.