Paypal. (photo credit:REUTERS)


BERLIN – Paypal, a global leader in online payment services, blocked payments to the anti-Israel movement Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) chapter in France in May.

The Jerusalem Post confirmed the apparent closure on Monday.

When the Post clicked the PayPal section on the main page of BDS France website, the response read: “This recipient is currently unable to receive money.”

Previous Post attempts in May revealed a functioning electronic transfer payment process.

The ostensible termination of the PayPal account for the BDS chapter in France comes on the heels of the giant French bank Credit Mutuel’s closure of its account with BDS France in May.

Daphna Mackover,a PayPal spokeswoman told the Post, “PayPal is subject to very strict customer confidentiality rules, so we can’t confirm or deny any limitation of a specific account. As we said, compliance with all local laws is something we take very seriously. PayPal has dedicated significant resources to combat the use of our secure payment platform for illegal activities and works collaboratively with law enforcement agencies around the world to support both the detection of crime and the conviction of criminals.”

“We have 184 million active customer accounts and regularly screen their activities to make sure they respect the laws, and if they don’t, per our user agreement, we then suspend, limit or close them. PayPal encourages anyone who has information about the potential unlawful use of our service to contact us,” she added.

PayPal’s statement was in response to a series of media queries from the Israeli journalist Jean Patrick Grumberg.

Grumberg, a reporter for the French-language American website, told the Post after the Credit Mutuel severed its relationship with BDS France, “I contacted Paypal, I told them Credit Mutuel closed La Campagne BDS France account, but it was soon replaced with a Paypal Donate button.”

The ramped up financial actions agaisnt BDS France could mean a huge advantage for anti-BDS advocates over their rivals in Europe, creating a snowball effect on boycott Israel groups that use PayPal as platform for donations.

Post email queries to BDS France and its parent organization, The BDS Movement, were not immediately returned.

BDS France is one of Europe’s largest anti-Israel organizations, with nearly 6,700 followers on Twitter and over 43,400 Facebook likes.

The Post first exposed the BDS France account with the Strasbourg-based Credit Mutuel in April as part of the paper’s ongoing investigative series into BDS’s opaque financial network.

PayPal is an American company with offices in US. The state of Illinois has an anti-BDS law that could have adversely impacted PayPal because of its BDS activity in France.

France has Europe’s strongest anti-BDS law, the 2003 Lellouche law, and has applied the anti-discrimination statue to punish Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activists. The law bars discrimination against people based on national origin and French courts view BDS as an illicit act targeting Israelis because of their nationality.

Roger Cukierman, the previous head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), told the Post in late April that “a boycott [of Israel] is forbidden by law” in France.

On Monday, the new CRIF president, the Algerian-born Francis Kalifat, said on the website of the World Jewish Congress, “My mandate will be that of zero tolerance towards all forms of anti-Jewish hatred, including anti-Zionism spread by the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movement.”

Also in late April, the French embassy in Tel Aviv told the Post the account held by BDS France with Credit Mutuel bank appears to violate the law.

“The French opposition against any form of boycott is well known. There are strict rules in France against calls for a boycott. These rules apply notably to all economic operators,” the French embassy told the Post.

Credit Mutuel faced political and possibly economic penalties from the State of New York because of its BDS activity. A proposed anti-BDS law is meandering its way through the legislature in New York.

“The New York legislation would certainly adversely affect those banks. In a time of crisis that is growing more acute by the day, Americans and New Yorkers want to stand with our strategic democratically. Israel and against hatred peddled by the BDS movement,” New York State democratic Assemblyman Charles Lavine told the Post in early April.

Credit Mutuel has an office in New York City. PayPal also has a New York City branch.

The closure of BDS France’s PayPal account follows the termination of BDS accounts in Germany and Austria. In February, the French bank BNP Paribas discontinued the BDS Campaign account in Germany held by its subsidiary bank in DAB in Munich. In April, one of Austria’s largest companies – the Erste Group – pulled the plug on a bank account held by BDS Austria. A total of four BDS accounts have been discontinued since February.

Large German banks such as Commerzbank, Sparkasse, Baden-Württembergische Bank (BW-Bank), Postbank, as well as the the Austrian Bawag financial institution, maintain BDS accounts.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post