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German bank fights BDS while financing dispossession

Germany’s Bank for Social Economy shut down an account belonging to a Jewish peace group, accusing it of anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, it continues to handle an account belonging to the Jewish National Fund — which actively supports dispossession of Bedouin.

By John Brown*

A banner of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) reads, "Recognize Palestine, Boycott Israel" as thousands of Norwegians march through Oslo city streets in a May Day parade, May 1, 2016. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A banner of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) reads, “Recognize Palestine, Boycott Israel” as thousands of Norwegians march through Oslo city streets in a May Day parade, May 1, 2016. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

In the beginning of December, +972’s Haggai Matar revealed that Germany’s Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy) had closed an account belonging to Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, a German-based peace group. According to the bank, the organization was part of a campaign that undermined Israel’s existence.

The bank’s claims, however, are inaccurate. In response to the bank’s decision to shut down their its account, Jewish Voice for Just Peace emphasized that the organization does not oppose Israel’s existence, and that its support for BDS is part of a “nonviolent campaign for human rights, and that we support actions directed at companies that directly profit from the occupation, and that even our platform includes support for two states.”

These inaccuracies become even more glaring when taking into account the hypocrisy of German bankers who, on the one hand, condemn racism, while handling the account of the Jewish National Fund in Germany.

The JNF’s activities are too long to list here, so here is just a small taste: the organization is currently providing temporary infrastructure to a small group of religious Israeli Jews who are slated to move to the future town of Hiran. Hiran will be built on the ruins of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev, which is currently fighting impending demolition.

The JNF is also responsible for helping plant a forest in the Negev in partnership with fundamentalist Christian organization, God TV, on land belonging to the Bedouin village Al-Araqib, which has been demolished 108 times. God TV’s goal is to plant one million trees in Israel in order to hasten the Second Coming. The JNF is also involved in establishing and funding settlements in the West Bank.

Bedouin women react after Israeli police arrested two boys who were building a shack in the unrecognized Bedouin of Al-Araqib in the Negev desert, one day after the entire village was demolished by the Israeli authorities, June 13, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Bedouin women react after Israeli police arrested two boys who were building a shack in the unrecognized Bedouin of Al-Araqib in the Negev desert, one day after the entire village was demolished by the Israeli authorities, June 13, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

So why is a German bank willing to allow the funding of Jewish-only settlements built in occupied territory, especially after the UN Security Council established that do so is illegal?

It is unclear whether the banks offering services to the Jewish National Fund understand the significance of the organization’s activities. In any case, Bank für Sozialwirtschaft should take a hard look at the facts before it accuses a Jewish group of anti-Semitism.

I asked the bank how it is possible that its ethical standards prevent it from handling the account of a Jewish peace group, yet do not prevent it from doing the same for an organization that effectively supports ethnic cleansing and violations of international law. The bank responded that it cannot discuss its accounts due to its bank secrecy policies.

*John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and a blogger. This story first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is a blogger. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. carmen

      “#FAKENEWS” is the battle cry of the people who don’t like what they read. BtR (before tRUMP) people used to argue and/or research to prove an error. tRUMP has made it easy for everyone to look like #IDIOT

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lewis from Afula

      Yes, the German Bank has the right idea. The Boycotters need to be boycotted. Bulls**t, diarrhoea and snot is an inherent ideology that is undergoing self-accelerated collapse.

      Reply to Comment
    3. i_like_ike52

      I always find it amusing how radical anti-Israel people and groups Orwellianize their anti-Israel views by calling themselves “peace activists”. Aren’t “peace activists” supposed to bring people together and not just bash one side?

      Regarding the Beduins, they claim much of the Middle East land is theirs since they have been wandering over it without striking down roots for centuries. This attitude is a problem not just in Israel, but in all the countries of the Middle East where there is ongoing friction between Beduins and the national governments.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        In fact, the government put them there sixty years ago and they most definitely have put down roots there at Umm el-Hiran. They have stayed put, they are not wandering around as in your dismissive and rather contemptuous formulation. And they did it while being denied every basic service Jews would have gotten.

        The Israeli government is in fact uprooting them. Literally tearing them and their homes up out of the earth. You wax indignant and with keenest empathy for the Jews at Amona being uprooted when they are less rooted than these Bedouin. Yet coldly dismiss the feelings of the Bedouin, are deaf and blind to their rights. These people at Umm el-Hiran have in fact far more right, by your own criteria, to stay put where they are than the people at Amona. From every standpoint, legal and moral.

        Umm al-Hiran was established by the government in 1956. Amona, an outpost, never approved, was ‘founded’ in 1995 by young settlers who wandered out from Ofra because they thought Ofra was getting too urbanized for their taste. (Ilene R. Prusher,’Peace by Percentages in Mideast,’ Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 1998.) These settler-wanderers are far less rooted than the Bedouin of Umm al-Hiran.

        There is only one explanation for your differential attitude. Racism. Jewish supremacism. It is so interesting that you describe peace activists as Orwellianizing. In Orwell’s Animal Farm, of course, all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. In Israel, likewise, everyone is equal but some (Jews) are more equal than others (Arabs). A lot more equal. Israel is in fact an Orwellianizing champion. Israel is a place where Arabs have their lands confiscated to make way for Jewish only colonies that are then euphemistically termed “neighborhoods.” That’s Orwellian.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Cohen

      Now we know which bank to boycott. HELPFUL!

      Reply to Comment

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