German bank enabling BDS may violate its ethical code of conduct

The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which Israel banned in January from entering its territory, hosted the convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at its spring 2017 conference in Chicago.

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June 16, 2018 16:39
3 minute read.
German bank enabling BDS may violate its ethical code of conduct

The German flag is pictured at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)

 
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The pro-Israel group Action Forum Israel (Aktionsforum Israel) in Germany has released an eye-popping report on its website, questioning whether the Bank for Social Economy violated its internal policies and anti-terror finance laws by providing a bank account to the pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East .

Action Forum Israel, which was founded by Israelis living in Germany and Germans, asked if the “Jewish Voice for a Just Peace fulfills the criteria of the bank as a customer” in light of its connections to its self-described “sister organization” Jewish Voice in the US that supports the convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh.

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The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which Israel banned in January from entering its territory, hosted Odeh at its spring 2017 conference in Chicago.

The head of Jewish Voice said at the time that JVP was “honored to hear from her.”

Odeh, a former member of the US- and EU-classified terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was responsible for a 1969 bombing that murdered two students, Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe, in a Jerusalem supermarket.

She pleaded guilty in 2017 to US naturalization fraud and was deported in September to Jordan because she had lied about her terrorism conviction when she entered the US.

According to the Bank for Social Economy’s code of conduct, the bank values such concepts as “integrity, fairness, honesty, respect, professionalism, competence, responsibility.”

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The Action Forum Israel asked in its report: “Does the Bank for Social Economy support indirectly the terror organization PFLP?”

The Action Forum Israel revealed that the bank’s policy on its customer organizations states: “Donations to politicians, political parties or other political parties are banned.”

The Action Forum questioned if Jewish Voice’s political advocacy violates the bank’s ban on political work. Jewish Voice has campaigned to convince German politicians and the public to boycott military deals with Israel and against Israel’s embassy for sponsoring a pop culture festival slated for August in Berlin. British and US bands have boycotted the festival due to the BDS pressure campaign from Jewish Voice and other anti-Israel entities.

According to a screenshot of the German Jewish Voice’s Facebook page, the group defines itself as a “political organization,” the Action Forum report noted.

When asked about the alleged irregularities in the bank’s business with the BDS group, Mario Kyriasoglou, a spokesman for Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), told The Jerusalem Post that BaFin “cannot comment on individual institutions due to an obligation of confidentiality.”

The Post asked if BaFin plans to investigate the questions raised by the Action Forum Israel in its report on possible misconduct at the bank.

The Cologne-based bank’s chairman Harald Schmitz declined to respond to numerous Post email queries. The bank’s alleged pro-BDS activities have caused a steady loss of business for the bank. The Action Forum Israel also noted in its report that German courts have determined that members of Jewish Voice have expressed antisemitic comments.

The Action Forum Israel also presented clear evidence from the by-laws of Jewish Voice in Germany that it does not support Israel’s right to exist. Jewish Voice is the German representative of the global BDS organization that, according to critics like the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Action Forum Israel, is an antisemitic campaign that seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal – the premier Israeli public fund-raising global organization to advance the security of the Jewish state announced in June that its German branch will wind down business with the bank because the financial institution enables BDS against the Jewish state. Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor of the city of Frankfurt, said it will not engage in business with the bank because of its BDS activity.

In April, the German LGBT organization Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation canceled its account with the bank to protest the bank’s alleged support of BDS. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is seriously considering including the top three executives of the bank - Schmitz and his deputies Oliver Luckner and Thomas Kahleis - in its list of the top-ten outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism in 2018. The bank maintains at least four accounts that indirectly or directly advance the goals of the BDS against the Jewish state.

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