Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The ‘Ethical Bank’ Stabs Palestinians in the Back as it closes Palestinian solidarity accounts

Boycott the Co-operative Bank and Withdraw Your Accounts

The Bank for Ethical Racists
The Ethically Zionist Bank
Last month, without any warning, the Co-operative Bank junked its ‘ethical banking policy and closed the accounts of 21 Palestinian related accounts including national Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the International Solidarity Movement and other campaigns listed below.

We should not be surprised by this decision.  Ever since its 2013 financial crisis, when it was rescued by American hedge funds and the Co-op Bank’s Chairman Paul Flowers resigned in a comedy of drug taking and other misdemeanours, the Co-op’s attachment to an ‘ethical’ banking policy has been more a matter of words than actions. 
Bunny Rabbits 'r' fine - Palestinians aren't
Now when the excuse of ‘anti-terrorism’ is being used to justify mass surveillance of the population and the eradication of basic civil liberties, as per the Government’s Prevent and anti-Extremist policies, as political and anti-capitalist activities are reclassified as ‘Extremist’, we should not  be surprised that Palestinian solidarity organisations are being targeted.  The Co-operative Bank’s decision that holding Palestine related accounts offends its ‘risk appetite’ is particularly scandalous and cowardly, but there is little that one can expect from the Co-operative brand today.
We agree - actions speak louder than words - and the actions of the Co-op in barring Palestinian accounts say all that needs to be said
This is not the first time this has happened.  Many years ago Alliance & Leicester played  a similar trick and PSC was forced to transfer its bank account to the Co-operative Bank.  Now, once gain, support for  Palestine is being made a question of ‘terrorism’ buying into the Zionist narrative that support for those who are victims of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and racism are ‘terrorists’ unlike the terrorist state that expels, murders and disposseses them.  This is imperialist democracy and the Co‑operative Bank is playing its part in the McCarthyist atmosphere of today.
The Rev. Flowers - The drug dealing, porn addict who  was the Co-op Bank's Chairman
We should not forget either that the same tricks were tried with the African National Congress, which the State department and Margaret Thatcher used to classify as ‘terrorists’ in the days of Apartheid.  States, unless they come into conflict with NATO and the USA are never deemed terrorist regimes, no matter how many people they murder or torture.  This is the hypocrisy of free market capitalism and this is where co-operatives which operate in a market economy end up.
The Co-op Bank Opposes Torture - Except if Israel is doing it
Our message?  Withdraw your accounts and  boycott the Co-op Bank until it backs down.

Today the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has launched a legal case against the Co-operative Bank on the grounds of discrimination.
The Politically and Financially Bankrupt Bank
Last month, PSC’s account was closed by the Co-operative Bank which cited “the Bank’s risk appetite” for the closure and has refused to elaborate further.
That's true - the Hedge Fund owned Co-op Bank isn't the usual bank
Another 20[i] organisations working for Palestine – including a number of PSC branches – have also had their accounts closed or denied.

PSC and its legal team believe the decision is discriminatory and contravenes the Equality Act 2010. 
PSC has today initiated legal proceedings against the Bank.

ITN solicitors, acting on behalf of PSC, state the Co-operative Bank’s “failure to provide any reasons for the closure of PSC’s account, which has been compounded by your failure to provide appropriate disclosure, leads to the conclusion that the decision to close the account is based on:
  1. Our client’s cogent belief in Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination and the right of return, and to oppose Israel’s occupation and violations of international law.
  2. The nationality or religion of the Palestinian people.”
Therefore the decision to close PSC’s account is “contrary to sections 13 and 29 of the [Equality] Act [2010]”.

ITN solicitors said: “Our clients have been refused banking services, without any reason or an opportunity to provide representations. Our clients have therefore sought a full explanation from the Co-operative. It appears that the decision was taken because of PSC’s support for Palestine. A decision based on active support of Palestinian causes – or on the nationality or religion of the Palestinian people – would be discriminatory. It is in the wider public interest to ensure that banks are held to account for their decision making processes; a bank cannot be above the law by virtue of its status.”

Sarah Colborne, PSC’s Director said “Many people and organisations choose to Bank with the Co-operative because it markets itself as an ethical bank. But in deciding to close down the accounts of those working for or in Palestine it is clear the Co-op Bank has turned its back on its ethical principles.

“The Co-operative Bank is very good at professing its ethical principles. It has a glossy 27 page document which proclaims it believes in ‘acting with honesty and transparency… treating customers fairly, [and] promoting human rights and equality’. It is very hard to see any evidence of these principles today. Instead it has closed the accounts of those working for human rights and equality for Palestine, offering no honest or transparent explanation – only the banking jargon of ‘risk appetite’.

Sarah continued “PSC and our members are angry and disappointed at the Co-operative Bank which has turned its back on the ethical principles which drew so many of us to open accounts there in the first place. And today we will be writing to our members telling them of the Co-operative Bank’s decision and asking those who Bank with the Co-operative Bank to move their accounts.

“It is quite clear that the Co-operative Bank no longer cares about human rights – the Palestinians suffer incursions on their human rights day in, day out at the hands of an occupying force that continues to violate international law. In the UK we have a great tradition of solidarity organisations coming together to stand against human rights violations throughout the world – this is something that the Co-operative Bank should support and not punish.

“But in taking this decision it appears that the Co-operative Bank has chosen to discriminate against those who are working for the freedom and human rights of those in Palestine.”

[i] List of local groups who have had their accounts closed or denied:
  1. Abergavenny PSC branch
  2. Abu Bakr Rauf Memorial Scholarship Fund
  3. Boycott Israel Network
  4. Bristol PSC branch
  5. Cambridge PSC branch
  6. Computers for Palestine
  7. Discover Palestine
  8. International Women’s Peace Service Palestine
  9. Liverpool Friends of Bil’in
  10. Norwich PSC branch
  11. Northern Palestine Solidarity Network
  12. Nottingham PSC branch
  13. Oxford PSC branch
  14. Plymouth PSC branch
  15. Saddleworth Women’s Scholarship Fund
  16. Sheffield PSC branch
  17. Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund
  18. West Midlands PSC branch
  19. York PSC branch
  20. Yorkshire Palestine Cultural exchange

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