April 10, 2017 | The Jerusalem Post

French Bank Said to Have Dropped Major BDS Account

One of the world’s largest banks, the Paris-based BNP Paribas, may have closed the account last year of a French organization that advocates boycotting Israel. After the former president of the  Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) sent a letter to BNP in May 2016, the donation section on the organization’s CAPJPO-Europalestine website was scrubbed of the BNP account.

Israeli journalist Jean Patrick Grumberg, a reporter for the French-language American website Dreuz.info, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that “CAPJPO removed the link to the page with their bank information…  It’s possible that BNP quietly closed the CAPJPO bank account after receiving the letter from CRIF.”

CAPJPO is the acronym for the Coordinated Calls for a Just Peace in the Middle East – an umbrella organization for hardcore anti-Israel organizations – and is an energetic advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement targeting Israel.

Robert Ejnes, a spokesman for  CRIF, told the Post, “BNP Paribas called Roger Cukierman for a direct discussion. The CRIF president [Cukierman] restated that, since the boycott is illegal in France, an organization that supports BDS should not be authorized to hold a bank account with BNP. We do not know what BNP Paribas did. CRIF’s message was not an instruction but a recommendation.”

Malka Nusynowicz, a spokewoman for BNP in France, told the Post, “I’m sorry I cannot comment on this. Also, broadly speaking we cannot breach confidentiality re our clients.”

Asked about possible violations of New York State’s anti-BDS law because of BNP’s office in New York City, Cesaltine Gregorio, the head of BNP’s media relations in the US, declined to comment.

Olivia Zémor, chairwoman of CAPJPO-EuroPalestine, told the Post, “CAPJPO-EuroPalestine never made public the details of its bank accounts. Therefore, we shall not make any comment about the accuracy of the allegations drawn from what you erroneously call ‘open public sources.’ You should also note that CAPJPO-EuroPalestine has lodged a complaint for the theft and dissemination of private data, which is currently investigated by the French criminal police.”

The Post had obtained screen shots of CAPJO’s website listing the now-deleted BNP bank account information.

The suspected closure of CAPJPO-Europalestine’s account comes on the heels of BNP’s termination of the BDS campaign account in Germany in February 2016.

After The Jerusalem Post uncovered the bank account for the BDS campaign, the DAB bank based in Munich, which is the German branch of BNP Paribas, pulled the plug on the account because the account violated France’s anti-discrimination law.

France is widely considered to have the most robust anti-BDS law – the Larouche Law – in Europe. France strictly enforces the anti-BDS law, which has defined BDS as discriminating against Israelis based on their national origin.The US government sanctioned BNP Paribas for violating Iran, Cuba and Sudan sanctions, and BNP paid a $8.9 billion penalty for violations of those sanctions in 2015.

Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal