(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – PayPal, a global leader in online payment services, has cut off payments to the anti-Israel group BDS France.
Early Monday, the website’s link to the money processing site returned an error message that “the recipient is currently unable to receive money.”
Later in the day, the link to Paypal was removed entirely from the group’s webpage. Earlier in the month, the site’s connection to Paypal remained fully operational.
PayPal would not confirm directly that they shut the account, telling The Jerusalem Post that they are “subject to very strict customer confidentiality rules.”
“We can’t confirm or deny any limitation of a specific account,” said company spokeswoman Daphan Mackover.
France has Europe’s strongest anti-BDS law – the 2003 Lellouche law – and has applied the anti-discrimination statue to punish Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activists. The law bars discrimination against people based on national origin.
French courts view BDS as an illicit act targeting Israelis because of their nationality.
“Compliance with all local laws is something we take very seriously,” Mackover continued. “PayPal has dedicated significant resources to combat the use of our secure payment platform for illegal activities and works collaboratively with law enforcement agencies around the world to support both the detection of crime and the conviction of criminals.
“We have 184 million active customer accounts and regularly screen their activities to make sure they respect the laws, and if they don’t, per our user agreement, we then suspend, limit or close them,” she said. “PayPal encourages anyone who has information about the potential unlawful use of our service to contact us.”
Earlier this month, huge French bank Credit Mutuel shut down the account of La Campagne BDS France amid escalating criticism over the illegal practices of supporting financial transactions that target Israel for boycotts.
Israeli journalist Jean Patrick Grumberg, a reporter for the French-language American website Dreuz.info, told the Post that after Credit Mutuel severed its relationship with BDS France, he contacted Paypal to tell them that the organization had instead turned to Paypal to accept donations.
BDS France and its parent organization BDS movement did not respond to requests for comment from the Post. BDS France is one of Europe’s largest anti-Israel organizations, with nearly 6,700 followers on Twitter and over 43,400 Facebook likes.
The Post first exposed the BDS France account with the Strasbourg-based Credit Mutuel in April as part of the paper’s ongoing investigative series into BDS’s opaque financial network.
Roger Cukierman, the previous head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), told the Post in late April that a boycott of Israel is forbidden by law in France. On Monday, the new CRIF president, the Algerian- born Francis Kalifat, said on the website of the World Jewish Congress: “My mandate will be that of zero tolerance towards all forms of anti-Jewish hatred, including anti-Zionism spread by the BDS (Boycott-Divestment- Sanctions) movement.”
The closure of BDS France’s PayPal account follows the termination of similar accounts in Germany and Austria. In February, the French bank BNP Paribas discontinued the BDS Campaign account in Germany held by its subsidiary bank in DAB in Munich. In April, one of Austria’s largest companies – the Erste Group – pulled the plug on a bank account held by BDS Austria.
A total of four BDS bank accounts in Europe have been discontinued since February.
Large German banks such as Commerzbank, Sparkasse, Baden-Württembergische Bank (BW-Bank), Postbank, as well as the Austrian Bawag financial institution, maintain BDS accounts.