August 22, 1952
The idea for Israel Bonds was launched at a September 3, 1950 meeting between Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and a group of American Jewish and Israeli leaders at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. After discussing new ways for Israel to raise money in order to help build the young country, the group decided to create “The Development Corporation of Israel” (known today as “Israel Bonds”). The new company offered American Jews the opportunity to invest in Israel by purchasing bonds that Israel would use to invest in manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture.
On May 10, 1951, Ben-Gurion kicked off the first bond drive at New York’s Madison Square Garden in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. The event was followed by a coast to coast tour, which raised $52.6 million dollars in investments for the young state. These funds helped stabilize Israel’s economy in its early years.
The August 1952 mission was comprised of twenty-five American Jewish leaders who were responsible for selling Israel bonds in the United States. Abba Eban, serving concurrently as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and United Nations, led the delegation in Israel. The mission participants spent fifteen days in Israel visiting industrial plants, observing Israeli Army maneuvers and meeting with key officials. A report on the mission was given at an Economic Conference for Israel held in Atlantic City on September 12, 1952. The 600 delegates at the conference pledged to raise $130 million in new bonds over the next twelve months. It is estimated that Israel Bonds has raised more than $35 billion dollars for investment in Israel since its inception.