Israel is not only a great friend of the U.S., it's also a nation that can be a good investment for businesses and individuals.
Gil Tamary, Washington bureau chief for Israel's Channel 10 News, said U.S. businessmen such as Warren Buffett are among those who see the benefits of investing there.
Tamary, keynote speaker at the annual Central Pennsylvania State of Israel Bonds Dinner at the Community Arts Center Sunday, shared some of his insights about his native country and its relations with the U.S.
The annual Central Pennsylvania State of Israel Bonds Dinner was held Sunday night at the Community Arts Center. Presented with the Star of David Awards were Richard Grafmyre, second from left, president and CEO of Penns Woods Bancorp. Inc., and Robert Forse, third from left, chairman, Woodlands Bank. Flanking the two are Jean Staiman, left, and Marvin Staiman, who organized the dinner and presented the awards.
"No other nation in the world feels so much connection to the United States than Israel," he said.
It's the kind of place where one can encounter a cab driver talking about topics such as ObamaCare.
For many Israelis, their country is like the 51st state of the U.S., he said.
"We really feel the friendship of this great country," Tamary said.
Tamary, who has reported on the Camp David Accords and interviewed such prominent figures as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former U.S. Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, noted that among the American companies forming business ties in Israel are Google, IBM and Apple.
He recalled an interview with Warren Buffett, questioning him as to why he would invest in Israel, especially given the nation's troubled relations with its "crazy neighbor" Iran.
Why, he asked Buffett, would he risk the money of his shareholders?
"He said Iran is not your problem, but the problem of the whole world," Tamary said.
Most recently, rich deposits of natural gas have been found in Israel, which is further helping to enrich its economy, Tamary noted.
As a result, Israel has signed an agreement with Jordan to supply oil to its Arab neighbor. In addition, a similar agreement is expected to be signed with Turkey.
Harold Marcus, executive director of Pennsylvania Bonds, urged those attending the dinner to invest in Israel Bonds.
He noted that over time some $37 billion has been invested in Israel.
What's more, the bonds are guaranteed.
Israel has never missed payment of principal or interest on the bonds since they were issued in 1951.
Such investments allow Israel to build its economy through funding for infrastructure, research, and technology, and that helps bring peace to the Middle East, Marcus said.
Two longtime banking officials were special honorees at the dinner.
Robert E. Forse, chairman of Woodlands Bank, and Richard A. Grafmyre, president and CEO of Penns Woods Bancorp, Inc., each were presented the Star of David Award.
Force and Grafmyre showed admiration and respect for each other, noting that they have been friendly banking rivals over the years.
"I always enjoyed competing against Bob," Grafmyre said.
He further said that being successful in banking means investing in one's community.
State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, and state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, presented the two with special citations from the Senate and House, respectively.