NY State Human Rights Division Finds Two Banks May Have Violated Anti-boycott Law

The State Division of Human Rights has found “probable cause” in the complaint filed by the American Jewish Congress charging the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. and Citibank with “unlawful discrimination” in violation of New York State’s anti-boycott law. The AJ Congress yesterday hailed the finding and said it looked forward to a final determination ordering the two banks to “stop handling discriminatory letters of credit.”

The AJ Congress has charged that the two banks are “pivotal” in implementing the Arab boycott because of their “dominant positions” in international trade between New York exporters and Arab importers. The AJ Congress brief, drafted by Lois Waldman, assistant director of the organization’s commission on law and social action, said the two banks were making the boycott effective by enforcing provisions in letters of credit that bar payment for goods shipped to Arab customers unless the American supplier certifies it does no business with Jewish companies or companies controlled by Jews.

Naomi Levine, executive director of the AJ Congress, said: “We are gratified by the finding of the State Human Rights Division and we hope that, in response to it, the banks will reconsider their current practice. If so, the conciliation effort which will now be conducted by the Division will resolve the matter satisfactorily. If the conciliation effort fails, however, we are confident that the public hearing that follows will demonstrate conclusively that Citibank and Morgan Guaranty are playing a central role as enforcers of the Arab blacklist, which is not only anti-Israel but anti-Jewish. Their action is in clear violation of state law.”

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