The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions issued a strong blow against the French Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by closing its account with an online payment service that has emerged as the go-to financial fundraising institution for many pro-boycott Israel organizations in France.
Robert Ejnes, a representative with the Council of French Jewish Institutions, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday: “We did indeed intervene with HelloAsso management to request their closing of the BDS accounts, following PayPal action in this direction. They refused and communicated their decision to consider BDS free speech. We therefore decided to close our account and switch to PayPal.”
The Post reported in 2018 that PayPal closed five French BDS organization accounts. It is believed PayPal terminated accounts with pro-BDS entities in France to avoid violations of France’s anti-discrimination law.
France has one of the most robust anti-bias laws in Europe, the Lellouche Law, which bans discrimination based on national origin and has been applied to cases of BDS.
HelloAsso was founded by Ismaël Le Mouël and officially launched in 2013. Paul Furia, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, told the Post last January, “I want to point out that calling to boycott of Israel is indeed illegal in France. Several decisions of the highest criminal court [the Cour de Cassation] confirmed that calling to boycott breaks the law and constitutes an incitement to discrimination or hate based on national origin or religion.”
After a 2016 exposé on the French anti-Israel group, Campagne BDS France, PayPal and the bank Credit Mutuel closed the group’s accounts amid escalating criticism over its illegal practices.
After PayPal closed the accounts of the pro-BDS groups Jewish French Union for Peace and Campagne BDS France, the entities switched to HelloAsso to secure donations.
The Post reported in January that PayPal shut the account of the German neo-Nazi party The Third Way. Exposés revealed the pro-BDS activities of The Third Way and the party’s links to the terrorist entity Hezbollah and the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.