My long-standing interest in Israel as a Christian started in the late 1970s. I had been reading popular prophetic authors like Hal Lindsay and Derek Prince. Then, after watching the Raid on Entebbe (Uganda) – a true-life movie, where 106 Israeli hostages had been taken captive by left-wing German and Palestinian terrorists, my interest in all-things Israeli was sealed for life.
I was amazed at the heroic daring and inventiveness of the audacious IDF rescue of those many Entebbe Jewish hostages, who had been temporarily held captive, albeit for just one very scary day! All hijackers involved, and between 33 and 45 Ugandan soldiers, were killed by the Israeli commando squad. Also, as a “feature bonus” – eleven Uganda Air Force fighter planes were simultaneously destroyed at Entebbe Airport.
That nail-biting movie drama had echoes of other well-known challenging biblical dramas, like The Exodus and Queen Esther. Add in historic Israel-as-under-dog elements: the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, as well as the incessant Intifada, and you have what can only be described as the miraculous survival of this tiny nation, surrounded by very hostile, antisemitic Arab nations.
- One day in 2009, short of reading material for a bus-journey into Dublin, I spotted a newspaper sticking out of a shopping centre waste bin. As it looked clean, I extracted it and brought it on my commute. It was the Irish Independent business section. An interesting article was featured in it, about the benefits of investing in Israel tech, under the cliche headline: “Start-up Nation.” It mentioned all the high tech companies that had been, and were being, established in Israel. That list included:
– SniffPhone – the device that can smell disease.
– ReWalk – a battery-packed ‘exoskeleton’.
– PillCam – a swallowable medical camera.
– The Flexible Stent – preventative medical tech.
– Firewall – the original protection against malware.
As a small time stock market and community project investor since 2008, I asked myself “why hadn’t I ever thought about investing in Israel!”?
I rang the office of the fund featured and was gently informed that I would need at least €250,000 Euros in order to invest. That entry figure was far beyond my means. The person who patiently answered my naïve queries suggested that perhaps the Israeli Embassy might have some other investment solutions for me.
As a result of my phone call to the Israeli Embassy in Ireland, I ended up investing in State of Israel Bonds (SOIB). What are they, you may ask? Much like other government bonds, Israel bonds are a loan you can make to the Israeli government, who use this money to help strengthen its economy. How, why and when did these bonds begin?
The Arab-Israeli war in 1948 took a huge toll on the nation of Israel. Over 1% of the population was killed, and the economy was in a depression. The arrival of Jews after the conclusion of World War II proved to be an additional burden on a struggling economy.
Amid these challenges, an idea emerged that would give new life to the Israeli economy. In 1951, Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, convened a meeting of Jewish-American leaders and presented to them the idea of issuing Israel bonds to help support Israel.
I bought my first considerable amount of State of Israel Bonds. When hundreds of Gaza guerrilla rockets were launched at Israel in 2012, I doubled my initial investment. I am a contrarian investor, particularly when it comes to Israel, when so prejudicially portrayed by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS). We will be blessed when we invest in Israel, be it prayer, purchasing Israeli goods, Holy Land pilgrimages, or financial investments. The Bible assures us that such investments will bless us back. “I will bless those who bless [Israel], and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3)
At one of the Israeli Embassy’s Annual Nation Celebration “birthday” events I met some members of Christian Friends of Israel. Ever the apologist and supporter of all things Israel, I asked to be allowed to make a podium pitch for State of Israel Bonds, at one of their special Jewish / Christian meetings.
At the end of my pitch, I shared an exchange I’d had with my politically myopic, left-leaning, liberal father. He had been sending me a lot of anti-Israel articles published by The Guardian. One day, In reply to these many newspaper clippings, I pungently replied,
“Thanks for sending yet another anti-Israel article, Dad, I’ve just invested in State of Israel Bonds!”
I don’t recall ever getting another unkind news-cutting about Israel from him again. To this day I still remain a committed investor with State of Israel Bonds. Anyone who has a heart for Israel and some spare cash, should also consider doing the same.
By Louis Hemmings