On 1 December 2016, the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft explained to the Executive Board of the Jüdische Stimme e.V. [Jewisch Voice Registered Association] the reasons for terminating its account in a personal meeting. The termination is not directed against the Jüdische Stimme e.V. association as such.
The reason for the termination was rather that the Jüdische Stimme supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which aims at destabilising the State of Israel and is incompatible with the principles of the BFS.
The Spitzenverband der jüdischen Wohlfahrtspflege in Deutschland [Central Association of Jewish Welfare in Germany] is one of the founding members of the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, which was established in 1923. Since the end of the Nazi tyranny, the Bank therefore feels committed to reconciliation between Germany and Israel and supports the Jewish state’s right to exist. Of course, the BFS accepts that there are widely diverging views on the Middle East conflict and the relationship between the Palestinians and the State of Israel. In the Bank’s estimation, on the other hand, the content and style of the BDS campaign go far beyond the scope of the usual democratic discourse. It therefore no longer sees itself as a suitable business partner for an association that supports the BDS campaign.
The Bank für Sozialwirtschaft has not reached this decision easily and took it only after an evaluation following various investigations into the BDS campaign.
Background information on the criticism of the BDS campaign
In ‘Boykott des Friedens: Die BDS-Bewegung und der Westen’ [Boycott of Peace: The BDS Movement and the West] published on 6 October 2015, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation came to the following conclusion:
“The BDS is directed geographically against all Israel and culturally against everything that is Israeli. The modern boycott movement is only superficially pursuing the goal of economically damaging Israel by refusing cooperation. The economic consequences of the boycott against Israel have been coped with by the Jewish state at all times. The motivation is much more to blacken the Israel’s external image among the uninvolved world community through a meticulously planned and now well-established knee-jerk campaign: BDS wants to reach minds, not coffers. (...) The BDS movement wants to get the ball rolling with the ultimate goal of pulling the rug out from under Israel’s feet.”
The German sociologist Professor Samuel Salzborn at Göttingen University describes the BDS and its demands as “a morally impregnated Palestinian articulation of interest that aims to increase political pressure on Israel internationally and goes hand-in-hand with Palestinian politics” (‘Criticism of Israel or Anti-Semitism? Criteria for Discrimination’) in Kirche und Israel. Neukirchener Theologische Zeitschrift [Church and Israel, Neukirchen Theological Journal], Issue 1/2013). The campaign was wrong, wrote Professor Salzborn, to refer to the struggle against the South African apartheid regime and was “not seeking to criticise [...], but was anti-Semitic in its intent.”