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US fundraising website suspends BDS movement's account

Donorbox says it is probing complaint by Israel advocacy group that linked Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to terrorism
Decision comes in response to complaint from pro-Israel advocacy group linked to Israeli government (AFP/File photo)

Fundraising website Donorbox has suspended the account of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement after complaints from a pro-Israel group alleging the peaceful initiative is linked to militant groups.

The Silicon Valley-based company said on Friday that disabling the BDS account was a "precautionary measure" while the company conducts an investigation.

"This decision does not mean that we consider BDS to be a nefarious organisation. We are merely reviewing evidence following this complaint," Donorbox said in a statement, as reported by the Associated Press news agency.

The decision to block the BDS movement's Donorbox account came in response to a complaint from a pro-Israel advocacy group linked to the Israeli government.

Shurat HaDin said BDS is linked to terrorism, an allegation that was made in coordination with Israel's strategic affairs ministry, AP reported.

Launched by 170 Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, the BDS movement seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, ensure equal rights for Palestinian citizens of the state, and allow the return of Palestinian refugees.

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"While this legal repression may temporarily burden us, it has failed to deter us from continuing our peaceful anti-racist and inclusive struggle for freedom, justice and equality," Omar Barghouti, founder of the BDS movement, told AP on Friday.

The suspension comes amid growing efforts to criminalise the boycott of Israel in the US.

Dozens of US states have passed anti-BDS laws in recent years, while the US Congress is considering a measure that would impose fines on companies that boycott Israel.

Critics say these efforts violate freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

On Monday, an educator in Texas filed a lawsuit against the state because she was unable to renew her contract with a public school after refusing to sign a pledge that she does not boycott Israel.

Similar lawsuits earlier this year in the US states of Kansas and Arizona succeeded in suspending anti-boycott laws after they were deemed unconstitutional.