Israel, Justice, Politics

Israeli activists take Silwan campaign to MasterCard

Gush Shalom is petitioning MasterCard to rescind its Israeli franchisee’s coupon for tours in the Silwan/City of David neighborhood. The tours are through ELAD a lead settler organization engaging in “Judaizing” this Palestinian village just outside the walls of the Old City. Gush Shalom’s email asked supporters to send an email petitioning:

As the MasterCard name and logo were directly used, implicating your company with its world-wide business network, I feel it is incumbent upon your company to take up the matter with your “Isracard” business partners and firmly ask them to sever immediately and completely all connections with the Elad settlers.

The offending franchisee, IsraCard, defended its involvement by sidestepping the accusation, saying it conducts such coupon advertising with any government-recognized national park.  IsraCard also sent Gush Shalom a letter claiming “great damage” was done to their business and leaving open the potential to sue Gush Shalom. MasterCard itself declined to comment.
Gush Shalom rightly rejected the depiction of the City of David as a normal government park:

“It is true that the City of David is officially a government park,” [Gush spokesman Adam] Keller said. “But unfortunately the the government is an absentee landlord and has given complete authority to run the park to an extreme right wing settler organization which indoctrinates anyone who visits it.”

Full email from Gush Shalom with phone numbers to IsraCard and MasterCard beneath the fold; recent Israel Channel 2 news expose about ELAD below:

Hat tip to Mikhael and Yhuda for this.

—–Original Message—–
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of Gush Shalom
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 5:59 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Add your protest: Gush Shalom demands that MasterCard immediatelystops its involvement with extreme-right Elad settlers
Here is something you can do, wherever you are
The holders of an Isracard and/or Mastercard credit cards in Israel have received in the past weeks an offer for a “City of David tour” with “attractions for the entire family” – an innocuous sounding offer, making no mention of the fact that this tour is to be conducted by the Elad settlers – the ones who are, for more than a decade, making life for Palestinians in Silwan into hell.
Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, has written to the Directors of the MasterCard Company
(A similar letter in Hebrew was sent to the Israeli provider of Mastercard “Isracard”.)
You are requested to send your own protest, using our letter or making your own.
You could also phone to the Mastercard company. Contact data is provided in the end, as well as links to background material about the activity of the Elad settlers in Silwan.
The letter.
Dear Sir or Madam
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Isracard Company, entrusted with issuing MasterCard credit cards in Israel, is at present involved in supporting extreme-right Israeli settlers who are actively dispossessing the Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem’s Silwan Neighbourhood. Moreover, Isracard has been using the MasterCard name and logo in this campaign of support for the settlers.
Two weeks ago, Isracard sent to its customers a gift coupon providing a large reduction in entry fees to the so-called “City of David National Park”, managed by the highly controversial Elad settler association. The reduction is dependant upon the customer paying with a MasterCardPlus card.
In providing such coupons to its customers, Isracard has taken a clear position in support of the extreme right in Israeli politics – and has implicated MasterCard in the same. “The City of David National Park” is administered by the settler association “Elad” whose members have established themselves since 1991 in East Jerusalem’s Silwan Neighbourhood, since which time they are constantly extending their foothold by means of entering Palestinian homes and expelling their inhabitants. The proclaimed aim of the Elad settlers is to “Judaise” the village of Silwan, which they call “The City of David” and where they assert the Biblical King David had his palace 3000 years ago (a claim strongly disputed among historians and archaeologists). The tens of thousands of Palestinians who live for generations in this location are for the Elad settlers no more than “a nuisance” to be expelled. Among other things, it was the Elad settlers who initiated – and got the Jerusalem Municipality to adopt – the plan of demolishing 88 Palestinian homes in Silwan in order to establish in their place “The King’s Garden”, where according to the settlers King David had his garden. As you may recall, this plan was strongly condemned by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on her visit to Jerusalem in March this year.
Visitors to the “City of David National Park” are not only directly contributing to the Elad setters’ coffers, but are also exposed to an intensive dose of extreme-right nationalistic propaganda and a highly biased and one-sided description of Jerusalem’s history, almost completely ignoring the part of non-Jews – especially, the part of Arabs and Muslims – in the city’s history. Such a distorted depiction of history also appears on the settler website to which the Isracard coupon, emblazoned with the MasterCard logo, refers the company’s customers:
Isracard’s issuing this coupon and promoting the Elad settlers clearly cannot be considered a legitimate commercial activity. Rather, it is a political act with far-reaching implications. As the MasterCard name and logo were directly used, implicating your company with its world-wide business network, I feel it is incumbent upon your company to take up the matter with your “Isracard” business partners and firmly ask them to sever immediately and completely all connections with the Elad settlers.
As you have taken care to make widely known, your company has taken the initiative to create “The MasterCard Foundation” whose proclaimed aim is to help and empower poor, isolated and disadvantaged people in such countries as Tajikistan and Rwanda, and whose leadership includes such distinguished people as Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, known for her great devotion to the promotion of Human Rights . Obviously, this is the polar opposite of what the Elad settlers are doing in the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem, and I am sure you will take quick steps to remedy this discrepancy.
Adam Keller
Gush Shalom spokesperson
The following Isracard / Mastercard gift coupon was received in the past week by Israeli holders of such cards:
Translation of the coupon’s Hebrew text:
City of David – Attractions for the entire family!
130 Shekels for a Segway tour and entry into the City of David National Park (instead of 185 Shekels)
To coordinate your visit, contact: [or phone] *6033
Offer in force until 30.06.09
Isracard, MasterCard Plus
Offer valid for those paying by MasterCard Plus cards* Additional 5% reduction upon debiting * With prior coordination* Segway trip will be conducted at Ya’ar HaShalom and the Armon Hanatziv Walkway * For 18 year olds and older * Entry into City of David upon presentation of payment for the Segway tour * Photo for illustration *
MasterCard Incorporated contacts:
Joanne Trout, 914-249-6644, [email protected] (Media contact)
Nancy Tully +1-636-722-7782, [email protected] (MasterCard Worldwide)
Louise Herbert, Tel. +32 498 585 647, [email protected] (MasterCard Europe)
Jennifer Reed, [email protected] (416) 365-6664 (MasterCard Canada)
The MasterCard Foundation:
Paul Massey [email protected] +1 (202) 585-2799,
Linda Whitmore [email protected] +1 (519) 725-1853, ext. 32,
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland – Board member of The MasterCard Foundation [email protected]
Isracard Company in Israel [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Phone +972-3-7188555 (Ruthi Ronstein, Media relations)
Phone +972-3-6364636,
Fax +972-3-6364262
Please send copies of correspondence to [email protected]
Background material:
Settlers Move Into 4 Homes in East Jerusalem
Elad in Silwan: Settlers, Archaeologists and Dispossession
Israeli Settlers, Archaeologists and Dispossession in Palestinian Silwan
Israeli Supreme Court Intervenes in Silwan
11 Jewish families move into J’lem neighborhood of Silwan

4 thoughts on “Israeli activists take Silwan campaign to MasterCard

  1. This is a bad idea. If you don’t like the park, the gov’t is the pace to go. Turning to businesses like Mastercard does two bad things. First, it puts the businesses themselves in an untenable situation where they need to make their franchise decisions on the basis of political considerations – a no-win game since there are always at least two sides to any political consideration. Second, it legitimizes the divestment campaigns waged against Israel.

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