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French Banking Giant Closes Israel Boycott Group’s Account

A French banking giant has shut down an account belonging to the country’s anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, Benjamin Weinthal of The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

“BDS France used illegal ways to open its account and Crédit Mutuel closed it,” said Jean Patrick Grumberg, an Israeli journalist who has followed the case and confirmed the closure with a source in the bank.

The termination of the BDS France’s account was evidenced by the removal of the Crédit Mutuel donation link on the group’s website in May.

France’s highest civil court ruled last October that BDS is a form of hate speech. Dozens of BDS campaigners have been convicted in France of “inciting hate or discrimination.” Some have also been charged under an anti-racism law that bans “the targeting of specific nations for discriminatory treatment.”

“Let us be clear: French law prohibits all forms of call for economic boycott,” French MP Meyer Habib told Weinthal. “That would be a first step and good news, not only for Israeli companies and the friends of Israel but for all those believing in respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”

The Post first reported on BDS France’s account at Crédit Mutuel in February. In addition to this exposure, it is possible that Crédit Mutuel was pressured by the anti-BDS bill being considered by the state of New York. The French bank has an office in New York and could have been penalized by the state if the legislation is approved.

This is the third time in recent months that a European bank has shut down the account of a BDS organization.

Weinthal reported in February that a German bank, a subsidiary of the French giant BNP Paribas, came under legal pressure to close the account of Germany’s BDS campaign since it put the bank in violation of French law. The German BDS campaign confirmed that its account had been closed a few weeks later.

Earlier this month, the Post reported that an Austrian banking giant terminated the account of an anti-Israel group involved in the BDS campaign.

The BDS campaign attempts to delegitimize Israel in an effort to advance Palestinian interests, and many of its leaders have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”

[Photo: Laurent Neyssensas / Flickr ]