US Crowdfunding Website Freezes Palestinian BDS Committee’s Accounts

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Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS on 23 December, 2018

US Crowdfunding Website Freezes Palestinian BDS Committee’s Accounts

By Mara Vigevani/TPS • 23 December, 2018

 

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNS) will no longer be able to use its online donation account on fundraising site DonorBox, after the American crowdfunding website  froze its account until further notice, Ministry of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said Friday.

DonorBox, which specializes in raising donations for charitable causes, froze the account at the beginning of last week after receiving a letter from  Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, warning that BNS is affiliated with groups designated as terrorist organizations and that it misleads donors by falsely claiming that it is a US-based charitable organization.

DonorBox said Thursday that it had decided to freeze the account until further notice, inter alia, “due to suspicion of financial irregularities”.

According to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is in charge of combating BDS, BNS operates from Ramallah and is headed by an Israeli resident, Omar Barghouti, who was recently investigated by the Israeli tax authorities on suspicion of tax evasion amounting to millions of shekels.

“This is a significant achievement in the struggle against the boycott organizations,” Erdan said.  “In the past two years, we have led, together with pro-Israeli organizations, aggressive action against the funding of boycott organizations that led to results: stopping state funds, closing bank accounts, stopping fundraising, and reducing budgets for boycotts and BDS. We will continue to strike at the infrastructures of the anti-Semitic boycott organizations in order to reduce their damage” .

Shurat HaDin president Adv. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner,  praised DonorBox’s decision to freeze BNS’ accounts.

“Money is oxygen to terror, and therefore it must be strangled in any way. We hope that our action against DonorBox will send a clear warning to all online fundraising platforms and ensure that these funds are not used for terrorist financing” Darshan-Leitner said.

Erdan also sent a letter on Friday to the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, asking to stop  funding to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promote boycotts against Israel. The request followed recommendations by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the European Union’s financial auditor body,  to improve transparency of EU funding to NGOs.

Erdan also said in a statement that his Ministry will invest more than NIS 3 million over the next two years to establish an international legal network to fight the BDS

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