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Why Did A German Bank Close The Jewish Voice Account?

Jewish groups from 14 countries are outraged that the Berliner Sparkasse bank has frozen the account of Jüdische Stimme (Jewish Voice) until the organisation submits documents including the full names and addresses of its members.

‘The Berliner Sparkasse is a public corporation, operating in a state whose citizens are free to associate and engage in politics. Their request is an act of intimidation,’ says Wieland Hoban, chairman of Jüdische Stimme. 

‘Jüdische Stimme / Jewish Voice is assisting the organisers of the Palestine Congress, which will take place in Berlin in mid-April. The closer the congress gets, the more intense the persecution becomes; for weeks, there has been shrill defamation from the tabloid media and local politicians, such as describing it as a "hate summit" for which "thousands of anti-Semites" will be coming to Berlin. Because the journalists can’t write anything factual about it, they try to delegitimise the congress through guilt by association.’

In country after country, Palestinians, Jews and others who protest Israel’s devastation of Gaza are being called antisemitic for upholding Palestinians’ human and collective rights.

The International Jewish Collective for Justice in Palestine (IJCJP) is a grouping of Jewish organisations in 14 countries. Jüdische Stimme is a founding member. IJCJP members educate their communities to distinguish real antisemitism from its weaponisation to shield Israel from protest and accountability. The political use of antisemitism is enabled by a definition which conflates anti-Zionism and the hatred of Jews or Judaism. One of the definition’s drafters has testified to US Congress that it is being used with ‘“the subtlety of a mallet” to stigmatise and stifle criticism of Israel.’

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We, the member groups of the IJCJP, are appalled that German Jews are being called antisemitic for upholding the rights and laws on which the world agreed after the Holocaust, so as to prevent further genocide. Judische Stimme’s membership includes the descendents of Holocaust survivors determined to be personally faithful to their commitment ‘never again’.

Right now, Israel stands charged with genocide at the International Court of Justice. For a German bank to confiscate Jewish funds from a mission to save lives is a new low in the long effort to silence Palestinian, anti-Zionist and pro-human rights voices.

It is unthinkable that German banks should presume to define the terms of Jewish involvement in public life. Restore the account and think again: which side of history is Germany on this time?

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