Federations Plan New Strategy for Israel Investment

YERUSHALAYIM -

The organized American Jewish community is gearing up for a plan to infuse the Israeli economy with tens of millions of dollars from investment funds and endowments of the various federations, trusts and charities, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The plan, originating with the Jewish Federation of Greater Miami, will draw from the more than $15 billion held by the various investment funds belonging to the Jewish Federations of North America, plus the additional $60b. that are estimated to be in Jewish private foundations around the U.S.

At the JFNA’s 2013 Investment Institute in Palm Beach in February, representatives of 60 communities and 15 local Investment Committee chairpersons discussed how to maximize returns on the “more than $13.5b. in assets” that the federations currently have in their endowments.

According to the JFNA, “over $64b. in Jewish communal philanthropic assets” were represented at the gathering.

In a letter to investment managers who attended the Investment Institute, President Shimon Peres noted that “Israel is today recognized as a start-up nation, well-renowned for its breakthrough innovations and achievements in the field of hi-tech. Its business environment, reservoir of high-level human resources, creativity and innovative approaches presents attractive investment opportunities waiting to be tapped.”

The president stated that he hoped to see “a surge of JFNA foundation investments in Israel soon.”

“We can love Israel all we want but investment committees are paid to have blinders on in terms of their emotions,” he said.

Miami Federation President Jacob Solomon explained that the situation requires structural change. “Most institutional investors are not picking stocks, they are investing in funds that are managed and those do the stock picking.” As such, the federations require “a fund that we could invest through and that fund then chooses” in which Israeli companies to invest.

There is a political dimension, as well. As Alon Ozer, the chief investment officer for the Miami federation, noted, the project could serve “as a tangible counter-response to the boycott, divestment and sanction movement against Israel.”