Miami to invest $1M in Israeli bonds in gesture of solidarity

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The city of Miami will invest $1 million into Israeli government bonds after commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve a resolution that came as a surprise even to the Israeli Consul General.

Commissioner Joe Carollo proposed the investment as a pocket item during a meeting of the Miami City Commission, telling the public the investment will serve as a “small token of our support for Israel and our appreciation for the warm friendship and support that we have had from so many Israelis and their contribution to our community.” The money will come from surplus funds.

“We want you to bring back to Israel a little bit of gratitude from the city of Miami,” Carollo told Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, Israel’s newly appointed consul general for Miami, who arrived in Florida just over a week ago and will serve a three- to five-year term.

The gesture comes on the heels of an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group in Gaza recognized by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, that killed 230 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel last month. A cease-fire began on May 21.

“I really don’t have enough words to express my gratitude and my appreciation for the support of the United States and the state of Florida and of course the city of Miami for the state of Israel,” Elbaz-Starinsky said after receiving a key to Miami from the commissioners as a symbol of welcoming him to the city. “We’ve been through a difficult few weeks, we’ve had thousands of rockets shilled against our citizens. Just three weeks ago I was sitting in a shelter with my five children.”

Carollo framed his motion in the context of the recent missile strikes by Hamas, which he said embody the “pure hate” of the group toward Israel, “an extremely, extremely important ally to us.”

“All of us here in Miami and throughout the United States,” Carollo said, “we’re very privileged and blessed that we live in a country that has everything, we don’t have to worry about going to shelters, we don’t have to worry day to day that we’re going to be attacked with missiles. The State of Israel recently went through something that we in America cannot even begin to imagine.”

Commissioners and state Sen. Ileana Garcia present Miami’s Israel Consul General, center, with $1 million commitment of investment of surplus city public funds in Israeli government bonds.
Commissioners and state Sen. Ileana Garcia present Miami’s Israel Consul General, center, with $1 million commitment of investment of surplus city public funds in Israeli government bonds.

Mayor Francis Suarez also spoke at the meeting, saying he aims to grow closer ties with Israel, not just in terms of support, but also in terms of its tech industry and “innovative economy.”

For Elbaz-Starinsky, continued cooperation between Israeli tech companies and those in Miami is something he wants to foster throughout his tenure.

“The challenge is always to find new avenues of cooperation,” he said in an interview. “Now, with the initiative here to build a tech hub, it meets Israel’s strongest point. We’re an innovative and high-tech nation, the ‘start-up nation.’ So we can serve the interests of both entities.”

State Sen. Ileana Garcia, R-Miami, commended Carollo’s resolution and said she acutely understands the importance of standing with Israel as a daughter of immigrants. “Miami is a city for immigrants. When my mother first came from Havana back in the 1960s, it was the Jewish community that embraced my mother,” she said.

“Israel is a country that is a beacon of hope and democracy in a world that is beset by terrorism,” Suarez said. “It’s my honor to stand in solidarity with the state of Israel.”

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