June 3, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post
United Israel Appeal leaving BDS-enabling bank in Germany
Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal – the premier Israeli public fund-raising global organization to advance the security of the Jewish state – has announced that its German branch will wind down business with the Bank for Social Economy because the financial institution enables the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.
“In parallel to communicating with the BfS [Bank for Social Economy] and making a clear demand they stop all BDS-related activities… Keren Hayesod Germany has immediately activated an alternative bank account through which donations can be transferred, and have begun taking all the necessary steps to divert all their financial activities to this bank,” wrote David Koschitzky, chairman of the World Board of Trustees Keren Hayesod UIA, in an email on Thursday to The Jerusalem Post.
“Keren Hayesod, both globally and on a local level, takes this matter very seriously, and have full confidence in the actions taken by our Keren Hayesod German leadership.”
According to the website of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, the pro-Israel organization “has been at the forefront of Israel’s growth and progress for over nine decades! Founded in 1920 as the fund-raising arm of the Zionist movement, Keren Hayesod played a decisive role in marshaling the resources needed to establish an independent, sovereign state and helped lay the foundation for the state-on-the-way.”
Koschitzky told the Post, “Keren Hayesod, one of Israel’s national institutions and the leading Israeli- based fund-raising organization for the people of Israel, views the BDS movement as a serious threat.
As for the BfS Bank account of our local campaign in Germany (which legally is an independently run local entity) – I have been in contact with our devoted local lay leadership, headed by Mr. [Sammy] Endzweig, and have been reassured they are handling this matter with a great sense of urgency and responsibility.”
According to Endzweig, the bank has provided unsatisfactory responses regarding allegations that the bank enables the allegedly antisemitic BDS campaign.
An ongoing Post investigative series into BDS bank accounts in Germany revealed that the Bank for Social Economy provides at least four accounts to organizations that directly or indirectly call for a boycott of the Jewish state and enable efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel. Post media queries to the bank’s chairman, Harald Schmitz, were not returned.
Schmitz has defended the bank’s business with the extremist German- based BDS group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East.
Jewish Voice wrote on its website on May 9 expressing “solidarity with the Palestinian call to renew a boycott of the Pop Culture Festival until the support of the Israeli Embassy is dropped.”
Jewish Voice called on Germany’s government to expel Israel’s Ambassador to Berlin Jeremy Issacharoff and stop weapons deliveries to the Jewish state. In January, Israel banned the US-based sister organization of Jewish Voice from entering the state of Israel.
Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal’s move to punish the Bank for Social Economy comes on the heels of the German LGBT organization Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation canceling its account in April with the bank because of the anti-Israel activity of the Cologne-based financial organization.
Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) was a gay social scientist who campaigned to advance the rights of the LGBT community. The Nazis severely persecuted him and he was forced to live in exile.
The international human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center is weighing whether to place the bank’s top three executives – chairman Schmitz and his deputies, Oliver Luckner and Thomas Kahleis, on its list of top-10 outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism for 2018. The Wiesenthal Center will announce its list in December.
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.