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LETTER: Bank of Ireland, IPSC and Israel

December 31st, 2016 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – Credit is due to Archon for laying out the facts of Israel’s criminal behaviour in the kind of detail many other mainstream media outlets and politicians have been unwilling to do, either because of fear of, or admiration for, this belligerent, apartheid state.

I would like to bring your readers’ attention to another, under-reported, sinister event that features tactics recently warned of by Israeli officials:  to threaten, disrupt and sabotage the human-rights work of international civil society organisations who work for peace and justice in for Palestinians.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has for the last 15 years campaigned for the human rights of the Palestinian people. For all that time it has had a trouble-free, normal banking relationship with the Bank of Ireland (BOI). Last July, out of the blue, came a message that they were going to close our accounts. When asked ‘Why?’ they simply said ‘Risk.’

But, hang on; the IPSC is a legally-constituted, fully-transparent and audited organisation. ‘What risk?’ we asked. No further explanation was provided.

Our pleas for a longer notice period to allow us to contact our many supporters, who fund us through standing orders, were rejected. As a result, our finances and ability to do our work have been severely impacted.

What, you may ask, is the connection with the BOI’s action and the state of Israel?

Well, at a Jerusalem conference in March 2016, Israel Katz, an Israeli government minister, vowed to ‘eliminate’ those advocating, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) against Israel … ‘to act against them, to isolate them, also to transfer information to intelligence agents around the world, and other agents. We have to understand that there is a battle here. It is wrapped in many covers.’

Are the BOI, either wittingly or unwittingly, acting as one of those agents? Have they been threatened, have they been ‘persuaded,’ or is it just all a coincidence?

A clue is that, recently, The Sunday Business Post disclosed the BOI was ‘busy networking in Israel,’ Could this touting for business, in this serial human rights abusing state, have anything to do with the closure of our accounts?  

Whatever the reason, the fact is that an Irish bank, led by the same individuals who had to be painfully bailed out by the Irish people, has, once again, slipped the bonds of ethical behaviour by withdrawing an essential service for us to function as human rights advocates.

If you are a customer of the BOI, are you really comfortable to risk your money with an organisation that engages in such unprincipled decision-making? All too often, as we have seen before, this kind of arrogant hubris often turns out to be very bad for business – as those now, hollowed-out branches, operating in the towns and cities of Ireland bleakly testify.

Palestinian civil society has asked the people of Ireland to support their non-violent campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), until Israel abides by international law.

The BDS campaign, like the one that helped change the apartheid structure of South Africa, is a growing worldwide movement. Its aim is to compel Israel to behave like a normal country, one that ensures freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people. And it is something that Israel fears deeply, as testified to by the fact that it is pumping millions of dollars into waging a war on the movement.

The decision makers at the BOI won’t stop the IPSC’s work for Palestinian rights. 

Fatin Al Tamimi,

Chairperson,

Ireland-Palestine 

Solidarity Campaign,

18 Capel Street,

Dublin 1.

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