The giant Dallas-based bank Comerica announced on Friday that it will close a bank account held by an anti-Israel organization that promotes a boycott of the Jewish state.
“Comerica Bank has taken steps to close the account. The account closing, the result of a business decision, will occur in due course. We will have no further comment on this matter, ” Wayne Mielke, the bank’s spokesman, wrote The Jersualem Post by email.
The slated termination of the account for the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), which supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement targeting the Jewish state, is believed to be the first anti-Israel bank account closed by a US-based bank.
Comercia’s decision to sever its financial relationship with IADL comes three days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law one of the country’s strongest anti-BDS laws. The Texas legislation bars state contracts with companies that support BDS. “You can always count on Texas,” Abbott said, adding that “Any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy. Texas is not going to do business with any company that boycotts Israel.” He issued his statements at a ceremony marking Israel’s independence day which was held at the Jewish Community Center in Austin.
Rep. Phil King and Sen. Brandon Creighton sponsored the legislation blunting economic warfare against the Jewish state. Texas is widely considered to be one of the most pro-Israel states in the US.
A Post press query to IADL was not immediately returned. It is unclear if Comerica closed the account because financial business with IADL was running afoul of the anti-BDS law or due to a possible violation of anti-terrorism laws. The IADL, whose headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, has a working relationship with a communist North Korean legal group and defends the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.
When asked about Comerica and other BDS bank accounts in March, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the Post :“Countries have already shut BDS accounts for legal reasons and we urge others to do the same.”
Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz told the Post in February that “The organization [IADL] was founded as a communist front and supported financially by the Soviet Union. It is anti-democratic to its core and supportive of terrorism and repression. No decent person or institution should be associated with or supportive of its anti-democratic agenda and actions.”
IADL’s website has at least three pages devoted to criticism of Israel. During Operation Pillar of Defense to stop Hamas rocket fire in 2012, IADL wrote that it “condemns illegal Israeli aggression in Gaza.”
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post: “The IADL, which describes itself as ‘progressive,’ is a member of the NGO network that leads the demonization campaigns targeting Israel. Like other such groups, they use pseudo-legal claims to deny Israel the right to defend its population from terror. Its partners have included PCHR [the Palestinian Center for Human Rights] – a Gaza-based NGO with alleged ties to the PFLP terror organization, as documented by NGO Monitor.”
Jan Fermon, the secretary-general of IADL and a Belgium-based lawyer, wrote the Post by email that “regarding BDS, IADL supports this movement.” He added, “IADL engaged in solidarity with the Palestinian people in a very early stage of its existence because it considers the violations of international law and human rights law… by the Israeli authorities as a major obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the region.”
In addition to the IADL’s account with Comerica, its website solicits donations and lists accounts with Spanish bank La Caixa and PayPal.
Post email queries to La Caixa and PayPal were not immediately returned.