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Petition signed by 180,000+ for bringing PayPal to Palestine submitted at PayPal headquarters, #PayPal4Palestine trends on Twitter

An online petition signed by more than 180,000 people on different platforms has been submitted by community members to PayPal at its headquarters in San Jose. More than 60 community members gathered at the headquarters to submit it. The national sponsors of the petition include Jewish Voice for PeaceUS Campaign for Palestinian Rights & SumOfUs.

“On Tuesday, May 16th, more than 60 concerned community members gathered at PayPal headquarters in San Jose to call on the company to provide Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza the same services that it offers to neighboring Israeli Jews living in settlements that are illegal under international law. They delivered boxes representing the online petitions signed by more than 170,000 concerned individuals around the world, demanding PayPal cease its discrimination and meet the urgent economic needs of Palestinian entrepreneurs and consumers suffering from decades of economic blockade and suppression. In a brief exchange with the gathered community members, PayPal representatives acknowledged that this is an issue of deep concern, yet refused to make any concrete commitment to cease the company’s discriminatory practices. Palestinian business representatives have been seeking positive action from the company since 2015.  After an hour of speakers, chanting, and songs, the group dispersed with chants warning PayPal that ‘We’ll be back!'” said the organizers in a statement issued to press.

They further added. 

“PayPal currently serves Israeli settlers in the West Bank but not the Palestinians they live among. Without access to PayPal, Palestinian entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and others face routine difficulties in receiving payments for business and charitable purposes. This is particularly problematic for the Palestinian tech sector, one of the few fields with the potential to grow under the crippling economic impact of the Israeli military occupation, which includes severe restrictions on movement and access.”

The petition received a lot of support on Twitter and the hashtag #PayPal4Palestine kept trending throughout the day when the community members gathered around the PayPal HQ to submit the petition.

A Twitter user said how she had to wait for three months to receive her payment for a project because she did not have access to PayPal

Some posted pictures right from the gathering at PayPal Headquarters in San Jose

Some pointed out the unfairness towards Palestinians

The people who were present at the gathering represented different community organization including South Bay Jewish Voice, Rebuilding Alliance, the Green Party of Santa Clara County, American Friends Service Committee, Pilgrims of Ibillin, the Culture and Conflict Forum, and SEIU USWW. It also included former Santa Calara supervisor Pete McHugh and representatives of State Senators Jim Beall and Bob Wieckowski.

Fadi Saba, local Palestinian-American resident and civic activist, said, “As a Palestinian-American, I know how difficult it is for many trying to transfer money to their families or to support software developers under occupation. It’s ironic that PayPal serves illegal settlements in occupied territory, and not Palestinians. The Palestinian unemployment rate is 28% due to obstacles placed by the Israeli occupation. If PayPal is interested in a viable peace, it must allow for a viable Palestinian economy, which includes the tech industry that depends on online payment technologies.”

Anna-Maria White, PayPal user and Bay Area resident, said, “I am a long time user of PayPal and know how convenient it is for small businesses and individuals like me to use. When I learned that PayPal discriminates in the Occupied Territories, allowing access to one group of people but not another living within miles of them, I was stunned. As a conscientious consumer, I am grappling with whether to boycott PayPal in my own life and encourage others to do the same. I am hoping that in joining many other voices I can be instrumental in getting PayPal to eliminate this discriminatory policy towards the Palestinians.”

Wendy Greenfield, co-chair of South Bay Jewish Voice for Peace, said, “I would like PayPal to explain how and why it justifies perpetuating a situation where its services are only available to a privileged population of Israeli settlers but not the Palestinians they live among. The best route for PayPal would be to start outlining its plans to rectify this outrageous situation.”

For now PayPal seems to have shrugged off the issue without making any commitment to the community members who submitted the petition but like they warned, they would be back again to exert further pressure on the company and it won’t be too long before these activists would start requesting people to boycott PayPal if it fails to find a way to bring its services to people in Palestine

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Riyadh. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.

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