Globe Briefs April 14

Globe Briefs April 14

Ohio buys record $61 million in Israel Bonds

The state of Ohio bought a one-day record of $61 million in Israel Bonds.

The largest single government purchase of Israel Bonds, which took place April 3, makes Ohio the largest holder of Israel Bonds with $165 million, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel told the newspaper that the purchase in part was in response to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“First and foremost, we are making this investment because it’s a good investment for the taxpayers of Ohio,” said Mandel, who is Jewish. “Second, we are making this investment in an effort to combat the bigotry of the BDS movement. Third, we are making this investment to stand with the only country in the Middle East that shares American values.”

In December, the Ohio Legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from contracting with companies that engage in boycotts of Israel. The measure also included language that increased from 1 percent to 2 percent the amount of funds the state treasurer or country treasurers may invest in foreign bonds meeting specified criteria, including Israel Bonds.

Ohio treasurers have been investing in Israel Bonds since 1993, according to the newspaper.

Mandel, who has served as state treasurer since 2011, announced in December that he would run a second time for the Senate.

Israeli firm to provide drinking water — from the air

An Israeli company whose technology made a splash at last month’s AIPAC conference has signed deals to produce drinking water — by extracting it from the air — in India and Vietnam, two countries that have long faced shortages.

Water Gen inked an agreement with India’s second largest solar company to produce purified water for remote villages in the country. Earlier, the company arranged with the Hanoi government to set up water generators in the Vietnamese capital.

“The government of Vietnam greatly esteems the technological developments in Israel, and I hope that the Israeli technology that we supply to Vietnam will significantly help to improve water conditions in the country,” Water Gen President Mikhael Mirilashvili said after the signing in Hanoi, according to a statement.

The memoranda of understanding are worth $150 million in total, according to Water Gen, which was founded in 2009 and creates technology that extracts water from the air for use by civilians and soldiers who do not have access to clean sources.

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz demonstrated Water Gen’s technology on stage at AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., on March 26. He touted the device, which he said can produce 15-20 liters of drinkable water a day, as a weapon against worldwide water scarcity and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“There is no weapon more powerful in the fight against BDS than for Israel to develop technologies that the world cannot live without,” he told the crowd. “You cannot boycott products that you can’t live without.

About 1.2 billion people, nearly one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of water scarcity, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. More than 75 million of India’s 1.25 billion people lack access to clean water, according to a report last year by Water Aid, a water and sanitation nonprofit. And Vietnam has struggled to provide its 95 million people with water because of contamination, poor infrastructure and heavy agricultural demand.

In India, Water Gen technology is to supply drinking water to remote villages with solar power from Vikar Solar. The Vietnam project is to generate tens of thousands of liters of water a day for the people of Hanoi.

Jewish descendants, says court, can sue Germany for return of Nazi loot

A U.S. court has cleared the way for descendants of Jewish art collectors to sue Germany in the United States over objects allegedly obtained from their ancestors under duress during the Nazi era.

In what lawyers for the complainants are calling a landmark decision, the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled March 31 that claims regarding a collection known as the Guelph Treasure can be filed in a U.S. court.

Three years ago, a German investigative commission found that the original owners of the collection, which the Dresdner Bank purchased on behalf of Hitler’s deputy, Hermann Goering, in 1935, were not forced to sell it by the Nazis.

It is the first time that a court has held that Germany can be sued for the return of Nazi-looted art and artifacts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

For several years, heirs to the consortium of Jewish collectors that bought the 82-piece collection in 1929 as an investment have been demanding the return of the portion sold to Goering. They have estimated its value at approximately $227 million.

The collection is on display at Berlin’s Bode Museum.

Attorneys filed the suit in the United States in February 2015 against Germany and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, one year after the Limbach Commission, the German advisory board for Holocaust-related claims, rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that the 1935 sale had been forced.

In its ruling, the court rejected the German defendants’ contention that the Limbach Commission recommendation bars later litigation in a U.S. court. It also agreed with the plaintiffs that the sale may be considered a taking of property in violation of international law.