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Marxist-Leninist Party Sues German Banks Over BDS Account Closures

Benjamin Weinthal
30th November 2017 - The Jerusalem Post

The Marxist-Leninist Party in Germany filed a lawsuit against the Deutsche Bank and the Postbank on Wednesday in the West German city of Essen, claiming the closure of the party's bank accounts is an illegal political boycott.

According to a statement on the Marxist party's website, the termination of its accounts violates both the "law's protected economic freedom of activity" and "constitutional guaranteed rights as a political party."

The Marxist-Leninists believe that the banks shut down their accounts due to The Jerusalem Post's media coverage of the party's finances in connnection to BDS activity and alleged Palestinian terror finance.

"These [closures] apparently originate from ultra-right defenders of the imperialistic policies of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu as well as reactionary US government authorities and investments funds. And was implemented by Deutsche Bank, " said the Marxist party in a statement.

The Post reported in late September that the office of the New York state comptroller launched a probe into the Deutsche Bank's financial business with the Marxist party. New York state has a robust anti-boycott law shielding Israel from economic assaults and boycotts. Deutsche Bank is an investor in the $200 million New York Credit Small Business Investment Company that is part of “New York’s $184.5 billion state pension fund, the third-largest public pension fund in the country,” the Comptroller’s Office said in 2015.

Deutsche Bank’s operation of the Marxist Leninist Party’s accounts raises questions about whether the bank violated the state of New York's anti-BDS executive order that bars pension business with companies that are engaged in BDS activity.

One of the PFLP's key members, the Palestinian hijacker and terrorist Leila Khaled, delivered pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) speeches across Europe in 2016 targeting Israel.

In addition to New York, the state of Illinois Pension Fund lists Deutsche Bank as an investment advisor. Illinois has a potent anti-BDS law.

Additional states with anti-BDS laws that conduct business with Deutsche Bank are Indiana, Iowa, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, Arkansas and New Jersey.

The financial exposure for Deutsche Bank could have involved heavy losses if US states decided to enforce anti-BDS laws against the financial giant.

The Marxist party said a retired electronic worker, Wolfgang Göller , donated 250,000 euros to the Marxist-Party's Postbank account last week.

According to the donation page on the Marxist website, the GLS Bank in Bochum is listed as an account. It is unclear if the GLS plans to follow the lead of the Deutsche Bank and Postbank and sever its business relationship with the Marxist party.

TO: Nathan Gelbart, a prominent German attorney who represents an Israeli citizen in his discrimination suit against Kuwait Airways, told the Post: "I congratulate Deutsche Bank and Postbank for this overdue closure of bank accounts of a party which justifies terror as resistance and collaborates with the PFLP.  Also German compliance regulations, not only US law, prohibits funding terrorist or its supporters."

The Marxist-Leninist party, according to German media reports, formed a joint campaign list with The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and its supporters, for the September federal election.

The US and the EU classify the PFLP as a terrorist organization. The MLPD calls for the de-listing of the PFLP as a terrorist organization. According to North Rhine-Westphalia state's domestic intelligence October, 2016 report , the Marxist-Leninist party is categorized as a "left-wing extremist" organization. The intelligence officials said the party has 650 members in the state where its headquarters is located in the city of Gelsenkirchen. German intelligence officials monitor the Marxist-Leninist party because of its threat to Germany's democracy.The party has a total of 1,800 members.

The Marxist Leninist Party said in an early September statement that “the PFLP is not a member of our alliance. Sympathizers of the PFLP are, however, engaged in our alliance and are represented... in the interests of the Palestinians.” However, German media showed screenshots of Marxist Leninist Party election literature listing the PFLP as an alliance partner of the party.

The Marxist Leninist Party called for “Solidarity with the just resistance of the Palestinian people against Israel’s war of aggression and state terrorism” during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in 2009.

Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.

Tags

bds, europe, germany