On this occasion of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, I’m proud to announce that the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ recently decided to join pioneering Jewish communities around the country in making a $1 million investment in the Israeli economy.
We have long supported the State of Israel through grants and other charitable donations, but, after extensive research and deliberation, our Investment Committee determined that direct investment in Israel equities would be a wise decision both financially and ethically, and that it would make a strong statement on the values of our organization and those of our donors. The federation board agreed and approved the recommendation.
Our foundation’s investment portfolio, which manages $380 million in funds, had previously included a varied international-equity component. We determined, however, that this portfolio did not contain a level of investment in Israel appropriate for a Jewish communal and pro-Israel organization, particularly during this time when Israel’s industry is under threat from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, better known as BDS.
As I said, though, not only is this decision based on principles, but we believe it to be a savvy financial decision as well. According to BlueStar Israel Global Index, the benchmark for Israeli public equities, Israel has gained 8.32 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the 6.07 percent gained by the U.S. market. Israel has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 3.8 percent, an A-plus credit rating, 4.3 percent unemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 62 percent, compared to 105 percent for the United States — a low ratio is indicative of an economy that sells more goods than it incurs debt. The bottom line is that Israel’s economic future looks very bright.
We believe that this decision will enable us to help our investors align their wealth with their values and their support of Israel in an impactful way. In short, investing in Israel is good for our portfolio in terms of returns and diversification, and it’s good for Israel’s capital market development and economic growth. It’s a win-win.