Boycott Backlash: Group Calls to Stop Honoring Denmark

Poets for Israel petitioned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to change the name of Denya Square over a Danish boycott of Bank Hapoalim.

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David Lev,

Flash 90

Poets for Israel, a group of artists, musicians, and poets that supports Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, has petitioned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to change the name of a central square in Jerusalem's Beit Hakerem neighborhood. Denya Square's name should be changed, the group said, now that Denmark's largest bank has announced that it will no longer do business with Israel's Bank Hapoalim.

Last weekend, two of the largest banks in northern Europe - Sweden's Nordea Bank, and Denmark's Norwegian Danske Bank - announced they will boycott Israeli banks because they operate in “occupied territories.” Danske Bank, which serves five ​​million customers in Denmark and Northern Europe, publishes on its website a list of companies which are boycotted for legal and ethical reasons. A recently updated version of the list includes Bank Hapoalim.

“This boycott is a direct extension of ongoing Danish policy to boycott Israeli communities and businesses in Judea and Samaria, directly and indirectly,” the group wrote to Barkat. There is a limit to Denmark's hypocrisy,” the letter continued. “Denmark does not boycott companies in Syia, Iran, North Korea, and other dictatorships' companies where crimes against humanity are routine. There is no reason to keep using the name honoring Denmark for an important geographical site in Jerusalem.”

The Danish bank had already announced in 2010 that it was boycotting two Israeli construction firms, Africa Israel and Denya Cebus, because of their involvement in construction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. This is the first time that the bank announced a boycott of an Israeli bank because it has invested heavily in Judea and Samaria and has branches in the region.

Denya Square was thus named in the early 1960s to honor Denmark and its activities to save Jews during the Holocaust.