“An anti-Israel group has accused the Co-operative Bank of “institutional bullying and racism” after it was told its bank account would be closed.
Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) was informed last month that its account with the Co-op would be closed after a 60-day notice period.”
As the JC also reported, the same bank previously terminated its business with other anti-Israel campaigning groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“In those cases, the Co-op said the decision was due to its own “risk appetite” and had followed due diligence checks.
FOA chair Ismail Patel, who was a leading supporter of blood libel cleric Sheikh Raed Salah, said: “There is no legitimate way for the Co-operative Bank to justify its actions.”
An article in the Independent quoted a spokesperson for the bank as saying that:
“…it carries out due diligence checks on all of its customers, especially those operating in high risk environments, to make sure the funds do not inadvertently fund “illegal or other proscribed activities”.
“Unfortunately, after quite extensive research, the charities involved did not meet our requirements or, in our view, allow us to fulfil our obligations,” the spokesperson said.”
The JC noted that:
“Mr Patel regularly appears in the British media to attack Israel, and in 2009 [2010 – Ed.] was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara ship which was involved in the Gaza flotilla incident.”
The BBC is one of the British media organisations to have hosted Ismail Patel on its national (for example here and here) and local platforms (for example here, here, here and here). The corporation has also promoted campaigns and demonstrations organised by Mr Patel’s group and has used contributions from another organisation with which Mr Patel is associated. Together with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al Aqsa has pressured the BBC on the topic of its coverage of Israel’s capital city.
It of course remains to be seen whether or not the BBC has a ‘risk appetite’ of its own concerning the appearances of representatives of Hamas-supporting groups such as Friends of Al Aqsa and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on BBC platforms.