February 26, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Exclusive: PayPal Closes Second Illegal French BDS Account

For the second time in 30 days, the US-based online payment service giant PayPal shut down the account of a French organization advocating for the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.

The Jerusalem Post verified on Monday that the PayPal account of the BDS organization Jewish French Union for Peace (UJFP) was no longer permitting financial donations.

A PayPal spokesperson told the Post on Monday: “Due to customer confidentiality, we cannot comment on the details of any specific PayPal account. However, we would like to stress that PayPal has zero tolerance for the use of our secure payments platform to facilitate illegal activities. We make every effort to comply with laws and regulations around the world.”

The spokesperson added, “Compliance with these laws is something we take very seriously. We carefully review questionable activities reported to us and discontinue our relationship with account holders found to violate our policies.”

PayPal closed the account of the France-Palestine Solidarity Association in late January in response to an ongoing Post investigative series into funding streams for BDS organizations targeting Israel.

France has a tough anti-BDS law, the Lellouche Law, which bans discrimination based on national origin.

After a Post 2016 exposé of another BDS organization – Campagne BDS France – PayPal and banking giant Credit Mutuel closed the group’s accounts amid escalating criticism over its illegal practices.

Post press queries to UJFP on Monday were not immediately returned.

The Israeli government published a list in early January of 20 BDS organizations – including Campagne BDS France and the France-Palestine Solidarity Association – that are banned from entering the Jewish state. Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said at the time: “The boycott organizations need to know that the State of Israel will act against them and not allow them entry to harm our citizens.” He added, “No nation would have permitted entry to critics coming to harm the country.”

The French government slashed all of its funding to UJFP in February, according to the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor. The watchdog organization exposed UFJP’s use of public funds to advocate discrimination against Israelis. The UJFP, according to an article in the French publication Causeur in February, expressed sympathy for the supporters of radical Islam.

In early February, UJFP organized an event with the US-based BDS entity Jewish Voice for Peace. The Israeli government prohibited members of JVP from entering the country in January, with some arguing the group seeks to abolish Israel.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and German Jews have called on the Bank for Social Economy in Cologne, Germany, to close its account with the BDS group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, an organization that calls the JVP its “sister organization.”

Harald Schmitz, the chairman of the Bank for Social Economy, supports the retention of multiple German NGO BDS accounts, including Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.