August 29, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

German Bank Accused of Opposing Israel’s Existence

A German Green Party politician and religious studies academic slammed the Bank for Social Economy on Monday for failing to match its rhetoric with action regarding Israel’s right to exist.

Volker Beck of the Green Party accused the embattled bank of hypocrisy toward the Jewish state for providing an account for the pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) extremist group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East. Beck, who is currently in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post that he wrote the bank in an email: “Your business practice is neither compatible with advocacy for Israel’s right to exist nor with your commitment to reconciliation between Israel and Germany.”

Beck, a lecturer in the Center for Religious Studies at Ruhr University in Bochum, urged the bank to examine its behavior regarding the BDS account. “I consider it unacceptable” that the bank holds business relations with the BDS group Jewish Voice because of a “political assessment.”

The bank has requested a meeting with Beck. The bank’s chairman Harald Schmitz declined to answer a Post media query. The bank has previously claimed that it supports Israel’s existence and is dedicated to “reconciliation between Germany and Israel.”

The Cologne-based bank is under fire from politicians across Germany’s political spectrum for enabling economic warfare against Israel.

Michaela Engelmeier, a member of the executive board of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, blasted the bank in August.

“My opinion is that no one – no institution, no societal group, really no one – should work together with BDS or hold accounts for these antisemitic groups,” Engelmeier wrote to the Post on Thursday in connection with a query about the Bank for Social Economy’s enabling of BDS.

Uwe Becker, Frankfurt’s deputy mayor and treasurer, called for a countrywide ban of BDS last week.

“The city of Frankfurt will, in the future, only work with banks who do not maintain business relations with the antisemitic BDS movement and, accordingly, with BDS organizations,” Becker told the Post in April.

He added that: “I consider it extremely problematic when banks, including in Germany, maintain business relations with organizations that incite antisemitism and place Israel’s existence in question,” he said. “Against this background, the Bank for Social Economy should reconsider its position, particularly since, in the meantime, the German Bundestag has also assessed BDS as antisemitic.”

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

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