Josh Mandell is the treasurer for the State of Ohio. He is also Jewish, a former Marine, and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors.
In March, Mandel purchased $42 million in Israel bonds. It was the single largest Israel bond investment by a state, and increased Ohio Treasury’s Israel bonds portfolio to over $80 million.
“During our administration, we’ve managed to earn a ‘AAA’ credit rating on our multibillion-dollar STAR investment fund, as well as earning the first upgrade in a decade on the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund,” Mandel told the Cleveland Jewish News on the day of the bonds purchase.
“This investment fits into the strategy that has produced positive results for us over the past couple years.”
Mandel’s press secretary told the Columbus Dispatch that, since 1993, all of Ohio’s treasurers, Democrats and Republicans, have invested state money in Israel Bonds. Ohio law was amended in 1993 to allow the state to invest in foreign bonds.
“Israel Bonds are an attractive investment option for state and municipal public funds because they maintain a high credit rating, are dependable and yield a competitive interest rate,” Berry said.
The fixed-rate bonds purchased in the March purchase have yields that are three to four times the rates of comparable U.S. Treasury bonds.
So, a great deal for Ohio – everyone’s happy, right? Wrong.
For those Ohioans who prefer that their state get a lower return on investment than tarnish their government dollars by investing in the Jewish State, news of the Israel Bonds purchase was more than they could bear.
Members of seventeen Ohio-based pro-Arab Palestinian organizations signed an open letter demanding that the state of Ohio pull its $80 million investment in Israel bonds.
The letter states that the investment, “undertaken without consent” of Ohio citizens, “in a state that regularly violates international law and human rights.” It continues by describing Israel as an Apartheid State which regularly “humiliates Palestinian men, women and children,” and declares that the investment in the state of Israel “shames the state of Ohio and poorly reflects upon the character” of the state’s citizens.
“In the Ohio Treasurer’s office, we make decisions on what’s best for our taxpayers, not based on what radical Islamic groups want us to do,” was Mandel’s response.
Mandel ran for congress last fall but was soundly defeated by incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.
The anti-Israel groups continued to demand that Israel Bonds investment be removed from Ohio’s portfolio and that the state henceforth “refuse to invest in the state of Israel while it continues to violate international law and human rights in Palestine.” Mostly far leftist student groups, local branches of the International Socialists, and various Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim and Arab Student Unions signed the letter.
The most tasteless response to the Israel Bonds purchase was from a white supremacist site by the name, “Unity of Nobility.” In what has thankfully become a rarity, this site revived the practice of using the word “Jew” as a verb, describing the purchase of the Israeli Bonds this way: “Ohio Just Got Jewed.” The story was accompanied by a picture of Mandel with a yellow arm band with the word “Jude” photoshopped in.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus