Playing Offense Against BDS
By Izzy Tapoohi
We all know the old adage “the best defense is a good offense.” In an era of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), investing in Israel’s economy has become our greatest form of offense.
While it has long been a sound financial decision, today, investing in Israel takes on added relevance as an expression of confidence that the country’s economic resilience will continue despite geopolitical instability and BDS tactics. Through every challenge, Israel’s economy remains an outstanding example of innovation and progress.
The statistics speak for themselves: Israel’s 2014 Q4 growth was 7.2 percent, double initial projections. The country’s debt-to-GDP ratio – a key indicator of the strength of the economy that helps determine credit ratings and interest payments – decreased by 0.5 percent to 67.1 percent. This is lower than many developed countries. U.S. debt-to-GDP is 105.6 percent; the Euro Zone average is 107.7percent; and the OECD average is 94 percent.
For a small country like Israel, which has no real export markets in its region and is constantly in a state of heightened military preparedness, this is a considerable accomplishment
The success of Israel’s economy infuriates BDS advocates. Their response includes boycotting Israeli products, companies and social institutions, divesting from corporations that do business with Israel, demanding that companies and institutions rid their portfolios of Israel bonds, and sanctioning Israel in various diplomatic and economic forums.
These actions raise the question of who actually wants Israel boycotted. Certainly not individuals around the world benefiting from Israel’s life-saving advances in science and medicine. Certainly not the millions of people utilizing made-in-Israel technology to make their daily lives more engaging and productive. And certainly not the distressed citizens of nations afflicted by natural disasters – Nepal, Japan, the Philippines, Haiti and more – who rapidly receive vital supplies and essential medical care from Israeli emergency response teams.
While it might seem tempting to engage BDS advocates – who cynically ignore the most egregious abusers of human rights - head-on through internet forums or verbal confrontations, the most appropriate response is this: every call for divestment should be met with an investment in Israel’s economy through Israel bonds.
Investing in Israel bonds defeats the BDS goal of weakening Israel’s economy by doing the exact opposite: helping to keep it strong.
In 2014, the Israel Bonds organization, which has been a cornerstone of Israel’s economy since 1951, exceeded $1.1 billion in U.S. domestic sales for the second consecutive year. Significantly, 84 percent of all retail sales in 2014 were under $25,000, demonstrating an ever-growing trend of individual investors becoming stakeholders in Israel’s economy through Israel bonds.
During this time of geopolitical uncertainty, hypocritical double-standards and calls for divestment and boycotts, an investment in Israel bonds is a definitive and personal response to the actions of those who wish Israel harm.
Izzy Tapoohi has been president & CEO of Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds since October 2011. The first Bonds president & CEO to come from Israel’s private sector, Izzy has stressed Israel’s economic resilience, emphasizing the opportunity to become a stakeholder in the nation’s economy through investments in Israel bonds. Izzy’s message has resonated with a diverse client base, with total U.S. sales during his tenure at Israel Bonds exceeding $3.5 billion.