US governments have announced purchases of $300m in Israeli bonds in the past four weeks, throwing their financial burden behind the country’s government as its war with Hamas intensifies.
Much of the money comes from states with senior finance officials who are members of a conservative group that has fought against the “politicization” of taxpayer-funded investments, the Guardian found.
According to official announcements, 14 countries have supported Israeli investments since the October 7 Hamas attack in southern Israel. Israel BondsA US-based underwriter of debt securities issued by the State of Israel.
It has finance officers of 12 states as members State Finance Officers Trust (SFOF), an organization backed by right-wing groups and corporate interests. Israel Bonds was SFOF’s “Bronze Sponsor” as of last year.
SFOF has campaigned loudly against environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment strategies. Considering factors such as climate change, it puts “politics ahead of revenue”, giving “less than optimal” returns to investment vehicles that serve pensioners and taxpayers, it said.
David Armiak, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive nonprofit that monitors corruption, argued that the purchase of Israeli bonds was a political decision. “The massive investment of taxpayer money in Israeli bonds by SFOF members – to support Israel’s war effort – screams of hypocrisy,” he said.
SFOF’s website no longer discloses its sponsors, but cites the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation among its “educational resources.” The organization and Israel Bonds did not respond to requests for comment on whether their financial partnership continues.
Israel Bonds, also known as the Development Corporation for Israel, raise foreign funds for the Israeli government. It launched the funding drive after an attack by Hamas last month that killed 1,400 people. The Israeli government tightened its blockade and retaliated by bombing the Gaza Strip. More than 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to its health ministry.
According to an analysis by the Guardian, states have committed at least $300m to Israeli bonds since October 7, including $270m announced by Republican finance officials who are members of the SFOF.
No state has committed more than Florida, which was the first to commit Investment $25m in Israeli bonds, previously declares An additional $120m this week. The state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Petronis, said he was trying to “support our allies in Israel morally and financially.”
Petronis, an SFOF member, has continued to attack “woke” investments, Accusing “Virtue Signaling” and Farmers Insurance to say Wall Street wants to be “aligned with the CCP [Chinese Community party] And [trans influencer] Dylan Mulvaney!”
Indiana State Treasurer, Daniel Elliott, another SFOF member, declared On Wednesday it bought $35 million in Israeli bonds. “Israel is the most important ally in the world,” he said. Malka Baird, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Indiana, criticized the investment described This action is “unconscionable”.
Texas has moved to buy $20 million in Israeli bonds, “with the financial liquidity we need to respond to the atrocities we’ve all seen,” said Glenn Heger, the state’s comptroller. said In the statement announcing the decision. Heger is also an SFOF member, and one of the anti-ESG movements Very influential critics.
The 11 states that have fiscal authorities in the SFOF have announced that they will buy Israeli bonds from October 7. Israel Bonds said it received support from another Nevadan who did not respond to a request for comment.
Two Democrats unaffiliated with SFOF — New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs — have announced support. Common Pension Fund of New York Purchased $20m additional Israeli bonds, Illinois Invested $10m
Such donors are “investing in Israel’s strength and Israel’s future,” the Development Corporation for Israel said in a recent promotional video. Israeli bonds are said to be a reliable investment. For example, its two-year Jubilee bonds carry an interest rate of 5.15%.
On Tuesday, Patronis called Florida’s broader investment “a prudent use of state funds” and called on other states to follow suit. Elliott, of Indiana, said Israeli bonds “have offered higher rates of return to investors, even than their American counterparts.”
However, leading credit rating agencies have sounded a note of caution. Last week, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Israel’s credit outlook from stable to negative, citing that “the Israel-Hamas war could spread more widely or negatively impact Israel’s credit ratings than we expect.”
Armiak said: “SFOF and its network of activists and members have consistently sent messages that asset managers should focus on monetary factors when investing and not environmental, social or political interests, but now they are making an exception for funding Israel’s war? Why?”
When contacted by the Guardian about Arizona’s recent commitment to Israel bonds, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee did not directly address whether SFOF played a role in the decision. He told the Guardian: “I will continue to support Israel bonds as they provide reliable returns while contributing to Israel’s economic well-being.”
The Alabama Treasury, Arkansas Treasurer’s Office, Florida Treasury, Georgia Governor’s Office, Louisiana Treasury, Ohio Treasury, Pennsylvania Treasury and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts did not respond to requests for comment.
Indiana’s decision was based on “historical data points and future projections,” Elliott said in a statement. He told the Guardian it was “morally wrong” to equate support for Israel with “opposition to big companies applying ESG principles to businesses they disagree with politically”.
The Oklahoma State Treasurer’s Office said it has invested in a $5 million bond and is “going to secure another for $10 million, with many more projects in the works,” a spokeswoman said. When asked how much the state made in previous investments in Israeli bonds and whether SFOF played a role in the latest decision, it did not respond.
The Israel-Hamas conflict has spurred a surge in investment in Israeli bonds — not all of it at the state level. Palm Beach County, Florida, It was announced this week It described what it once described as its largest investment in Israeli bonds: a $135 million purchase.
Additional reporting by Will Croft in Oakland.