Group demands Mastercard/Isracard stop discount for City of David

Jerusalem archeological site, part-funded by right-wing group, is major tourist draw.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
June 11, 2009 23:32
2 minute read.
City of David 88 298

City of David 224 88. (photo credit: Courtesy of the Shalem Center)

 
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The far-left Israeli organization Gush Shalom is demanding that the Israeli provider of Mastercard stop offering cardholders discounted deals for the City of David national park, funded by a right-wing group which advocates Jewish settlement throughout east Jerusalem. The campaign against Isracard, which provides the Mastercard Plus card that offers the deals, comes weeks after the company offered Mastercard Plus card holders discounts to the park, just outside the walled Old City of Jerusalem near the Dung Gate. The park is funded by the City of David Foundation which advocates Jewish settlement throughout east Jerusalem. "In providing such coupons to its customers, Isracard has taken a clear position in support of the extreme right in Israeli politics - and has implicated MasterCard in the same," Gush Shalom wrote in a letter to the directors of the international Mastercard company as well as to Isracard. "Isracard's issuing this coupon and promoting the... settlers clearly cannot be considered a legitimate commercial activity. Rather, it is a political act with far-reaching implications," the letter states. The archeological park, site of Hezekiah's Tunnel from 700 B.C.E. and believed to house the Biblical palace of King David, has become one of the city's top tourist attractions. The site is located on the edge of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where a frozen municipal plan to demolish scores of illegally built Arab homes to create a large archeological park has provoked international condemnation. Isracard said Thursday that the far-left group's facts were incorrect. "The City of David National Park is one of many sites managed by the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority, which is a governmental body, under the supervision of the Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection," Isracard spokeswoman Ruthi Romshtein said in a written response. "We see no reason to avoid cooperation with this site, as we do cooperate with hundreds of other sites managed by the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority everywhere in Israel." "The City of David is a registered national park and as such is subject to laws of national parks," a spokesman for the City of David said in a response. "As opposed to the era when Jerusalem was occupied by the Jordanians between 1948-1967, we allow people of all races and religions to enjoy the archeological site. The move to marginalize the site is politically motivated, and in fact hinders the incredible archeological finds from reaching the people who would most benefit from them."

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