The latest pro-Palestinian campaign promoted by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal (“US Congress members demand that PayPal end ban on Palestinian business”, May 25) includes – as they so often do – a serious omission:
Eleven members of the US Congress have demanded PayPal end a ban on doing business with Palestinians in the occupied territories while permitting Israeli settlers to use the digital payment platform.
The letter, authored by Representative Mark Pocan, says PayPal is discriminating against Palestinians by denying “equal access to the digital economy”.
“We have significant concerns that, because PayPal does provide services to Israeli citizens in illegal settlements across the West Bank, but does not provide services to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, PayPal’s current operating status may be infringing upon the rights of Palestinians,” the letter said.
“As one of the world’s most recognized payment platforms, PayPal has a responsibility to ensure its services and operations are provided in a non-discriminatory manner.”
The letter was sent to PayPal’s CEO, Dan Schulman, ahead of the company’s annual stockholder meeting on Wednesday. It was also signed by Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Betty McCollum, Rashida Tlaib and Greg Casar, among others.
McGreal conveniently omitted the fact that the letter was written and sent in collaboration with 7amleh-The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, an organization that regularly celebrates terrorists and terror attacks against Israelis. They also defend hateful and violent content on social media under the guise of protecting the “digital rights” of Palestinians.
After writing that “PayPal has not explained publicly why it has singled out residents of the Palestinian territories, only saying it regards the area as high risk…”, McGreal hurls the following:
In 2021, PayPal partnered with the strongly pro-Israel group the Anti-Defamation League to investigate “hate group funding”. Palestinian groups accuse the Anti-Defamation League of conflating the campaign for Palestinian rights with extremism and antisemitism.
However, the insinuation by McGreal, that ADL may have been behind PayPal’s decision deny its services to the Palestinians, is undermined by the fact that the ban pre-dates ADL’s partnership with the payment platform by at least five years.
Moreover, for years, ADL has been working with law enforcement to expose and hamper the activities of extremist groups – mainly in the US.
These efforts by the civil rights group – via their Center on Extremism – have historically been more focused more on the right than the left. Further, anyone familiar with their broader political orientation – which includes strong support for Israeli-Palestinian co-existence and a two-state solution – would dismiss as absurd any suggestion that they’re scheming with PayPal to deny Palestinians access to financial services.
Additionally, the “Palestinian groups” which, McGreal explains, “accuse [ADL] of conflating the campaign for Palestinian rights with extremism and antisemitism” typically do so because they reject the group’s advocacy on behalf of the widely accepted IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. IHRA lists, as one example of antisemitism, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor”.
Palestinian groups which reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state within any borders of course find it threatening that so much of the internationally community sees such a stance as morally abhorrent, and as intrinsically inconsistent with the post-Holocaust pledge of ‘Never Again’.
Whilst we don’t know why PayPal is denying services to the Palestinians, the company has broadly cited “risk, compliance, regulatory and resource allocation issues”, without getting into specifics. Though it would be ideal if we knew more about their decision, the mere existence of disparate outcomes is not prima facie evidence of discriminatory conduct.
We’ve complained to Guardian editors about McGreal’s omission of the NGO behind the campaign.