In recent weeks, The Jerusalem Post has published various reports on the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (BFS) that have led to misunderstandings and therefore need to be corrected.
Among other things, The Jerusalem Post refers to the BFS as a credit institution that supports the BDS campaign (“pro BDS bank”). We cannot leave this statement or the entire tenor of the contributions unchallenged:
The Bank für Sozialwirtschaft does not have business relations with the BDS campaign, nor do we support the objectives of this movement. This follows from the tradition and the shareholder structure 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. The Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland [ZWST - Central Welfare Office of the Jews in Germany] is still a key BFS shareholder. We therefore feel a special commitment to reconciliation between Germany and Israel. We support the Jewish state’s right exist without any ifs and buts.
Our rejection of the BDS campaign was detailed in a statement in December 2016:
The Jerusalem Post’s criticism is directed against the fact that the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft conducts business with non-governmental organisations which are legally recognised as registered associations in Germany, and which according to statements made by The Jerusalem Post, support the BDS campaign. Specifically, this concerns Brot für die Welt [Bread for the World], Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst [Civil Peace Service Forum], Connection and the Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost [The Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East].
Bread for the World is a renowned development aid organisation of the Protestant churches in Germany which is committed to combating hunger in many parts of the world. The Civil Peace Service Forum supports people in violent conflicts on the way to peace and actively promotes a civil peace policy. The organisation Connection is also committed to the right to conscientious objection and does not support the BDS campaign.
The BFS has dealt very critically with the positioning of the Jüdische Stimme. Since we strongly oppose the BDS campaign, we initially cancelled the Jüdische Stimme’s account in 2016. After intensive talks, in which we were credibly assured that the Jüdische Stimme rejects every form of violence against the State of Israel, in April 2017 we finally agreed on conditions under which a resumption of business was possible. The positions of the Jüdische Stimme and Bank für Sozialwirtschaft can be read in a Joint Statement:
The Bank für Sozialwirtschaft rejects any form of anti-Semitism, but we nevertheless accept that there are widely diverging views on the Middle East conflict and the relationship between the Palestinians and the State of Israel. Underpinning this approach is the principle of freedom of expression, which in the light of German history we consider especially important.