Jewish National Fund slated to end business with German bank enabling BDS

The German branch of the Jewish National Fund told The Jerusalem Post that it will close its account with the Bank for Social Economy if the financial institution refuses to end its business with.

The latest damaging blow to the reputation of the Cologne-based bank comes on the heels of the pro-Israel fundraising organization Keren Hayesod-UIA ‘s (United Israel Appeal) announcement last month that it is winding down its business with the bank because it enables the allegedly antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting the Jewish state.

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“We have called on the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft [Bank for Social Economy] to end its business relations with BDS-affiliated organizations. If the BfS does not act, we look forward to changing to another financial institution,” said Heike Hausweiler, a spokeswoman for Jaffa Flohr, the president of the Jewish National Fund in Germany, emailed the Post recently.

Other German NGOs have ended their business ties with the Bank for Social Economy because of its energetic support of BDS groups such as the extremist German-based BDS group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East.

The LGBT organization Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation announced in April that it will sever business ties with the Bank for Social Economy due to the bank’s pro-BDS activity. Additional NGOs that conduct business with the bank told the Post they are monitoring the bank’s behavior in order to decide about continued business relations. Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor and city treasurer of Frankfurt, told the Post that the bank will be excluded from municipal business because it enables boycotts against the Jewish state.

The pro-BDS Jewish Voice in Germany praised its US-based sister organization Jewish Voice, which embraced the convicted Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Rasmea 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 naturalization fraud, having lied about her terrorism conviction when she entered the US, and was deported to Jordan in September.

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The American organization JVP is banned from entering Israel.

The German Jewish Voice reaffirmed its support for the global BDS campaign on July 17 on its website.

The German chapter of Jewish National Fund has been target of boycott protests by Jewish Voice because of its philanthropic work for Israel in the federal republic. The Jewish National Fund, according to its website, states it was founded in 1901, ”and our single driving focus has been to ensure a strong, secure and prosperous Israel for the Jewish people everywhere…Together with our partners, we re-established our ancestral Jewish homeland in modern Israel. We planted more than a quarter-billion trees in what was once a barren desert.”

The JNF was re-established in Germany in 1953, and has its headquarters in Düsseldorf, with offices in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.

Numerous Post press queries to the bank’s CEO Harald Schmitz were not returned. The bank’s alleged anti-Israel behavior, which includes providing accounts to pro-BDS groups, has prompted the human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center to consider including Schmitz and his two deputies Oliver Luckner and Thomas Kahleis in their 2018 top-ten lists of worst outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israel activities.

The State of Israel considers BDS a strategic threat to its existence. The bank appears to be willing to sustain damage to both its bottom line and reputation in order to aid BDS groups boycotting Israel.

The bank’s hardcore defense of BDS groups has attracted international condemnation from Israel’s government, and two former US presidential candidates and current US Senators.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio told the Post recently that “The BDS movement, with its thinly-veiled antisemitic agenda, is engaged in economic warfare against the Jewish State of Israel. I urge our allies in Europe to ensure that European financial institutions do not enable boycotts against the Jewish state or provide indirect support to any pro-BDS organization, especially ones with connections to Palestinian terrorists.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz told the Post also in July that “The anti-Israel boycott movement is built on antisemitism and lies, and seeks to destroy Israel. Many US states, including Texas, have quite rightly passed legislation to combat BDS – and those laws seem to be having their intended effects. Unfortunately, we must continue to do even more to combat growing antisemitism abroad, amid increasing calls to destroy Israel.”

Two German intelligence reports stated this year that boycotts of Israel recall the Hitler movement’s “Don’t buy from Jews!” campaign.