German Jewish NGOs urge bank to close BDS account

Fringe group posts ‘Stop JNF,’ claims ‘ethnic cleansing’ on website.

BDS activists in Berlin (photo credit: REUTERS)
BDS activists in Berlin
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Germany’s largest local Jewish community in Berlin has called for the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy) to shut down the account of a hardcore anti-Zionist organization targeting Israel with a boycott.
Ilan Kiesling, a spokesman for the community, told The Jerusalem Post that Dr. Gideon Joffe, chairman of Berlin’s 11,000-plus member Jewish community, is scheduled “shortly to have a discussion with the management of the Bank for Social Economy to sensitize the management for the topic, with the goal to close accounts from Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of BDS,” or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
The Berlin Jewish community has an account with the Cologne-based Bank for Social Economy. In May, Joffe provided the Bundestag with a white paper on the “antisemitic BDS movement,” and has published extensive education material in the community magazine and on its website for members.
The BDS group that holds an account with the Bank for Social Economy is named Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, and is the German branch of European Jews for a Just Peace.
Lala Süsskind, chairwoman of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Antisemitism (JFDA) in Germany, said that while she cannot dictate what services the Bank for Social Economy provides, now being “aware of the fact that the bank services ‘Jewish Voice,’ I would stop my account there.”
In a second statement, JFDA wrote: “That Jewish Voice describing itself as Jewish does not mean that there are no antisemites” with the group. “Jewish Voice was already always used by antisemites to lend expression to their antisemitic resentments.”
Sarah Singer, president of the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet Le’Israel (JNF-KKL) in Germany, which has an account with the Bank of Social Economy, said “in the next step, we will speak to the bank. If the information is correct, it is hoped that the bank will also draw conclusions from the information.”
The Jewish Voice group, which lists six members on its executive board, has targeted the JNF in Germany with economic boycott activity, including a photograph of a banner stating “Stop the JNF” that appears on its website. Widely considered to be a fringe group, Jewish Voice accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” on its website, and seeks to boycott Ahava skin care products. The group has protested against Israel with signs stating “No nuclear submarines as reparation for National Socialist crimes.”
Germany has sold submarines to Israel at a discount, to ensure the security of the Jewish state.
Benjamin Bloch, head of the Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany (ZWST), which also has an account with the Bank for Social Economy, said that the “bank is taking care of it.” Bloch, was born in Jerusalem in 1943, played a key role in a program that sends young Israelis to Germany to help with Jewish community work.
Stephanie Rüth, a spokeswoman for the Bank for Social Economy, told the Post that the bank “cannot on account of bank secrecy give internal information to the public.” A source familiar with the BDS account said the Jewish Voice bank account “was closed.” The Post was not able to verify the closure, and several queries to the Jewish Voice group were not returned.
The Commerzbank, Germany’s second- largest bank, closed the account of a Jewish Voice member in June. The account was for a website that promoted BDS and the destruction of the Jewish State. In February, the DAB-Bank in Munich pulled the plug on the account