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Disinvesting from war in the Middle East

simply by moving your bank accounts

Better Banking Options has always operated in a political realm, as banks are essential to modern economic function and our economy is inextricably tied to politics. Although we strive for our resources to be useful to people of all backgrounds and opinions, we are also a mission-driven entity with values many would consider to be “left-leaning.” This is clear from both our blog posts and our search engine metric, which gives significant weight to banks and credit unions located in low-income census tracts. We truly believe that your banking practice is inherently political, because where and how you choose to bank can make an impact on where capital is circulated in this country.

Considering all of this, we feel compelled to address the United States’ economic support of Israel in their war on Gaza. It’s become a hot-button issue, with many political groups and activists calling for cease-fire and for the federal government to stop funding the Israeli military. There have also been movements to boycott companies who do business in or support Israel. Whatever side of the issue you fall on, people globally have been horrified by the continuing violence in the area.

However, this author wants to make their personal stance clear: the systematic targeting of civilians and aid workers by the Israel Defense Forces is well beyond the scope of normal war tactics, which are already morally questionable. These actions are only an extension of the occupation that Israel has enforced for the last 70 years, and both the recent escalation of violence and the imperialism in the region must end for healing to begin.

Regardless of your personal stance on Israel and Palestine, many people would be reluctant for their deposits to be used to fund acts of war or disinvesting-from-war-in-the-middle-eastviolence. The capital for arms companies, like all industries, must go through banking before being used to develop and build weaponry. For this reason, some of the boycotts have targeted banks such as Barclays, a European bank that lends heavily to companies supplying the Israeli military.

We have some advice for those looking to align their finances with their non-violent values, especially in the context of this current destruction in Palestine and ongoing boycotts: move your money from a mega bank to a local banking institution. Mega banks, which operate globally and with enormous amounts of capital, are much more likely to have the connections and the capital to work with arms manufacturers and other contributors to violence. Smaller local and regional banks are not only less likely to invest in these harmful industries, but are also more likely to circulate your capital through loans in your community.

Additionally, you can influence the political landscape of banking when you move your money by making sure the bank you’re closing an account with knows why you’re doing so. If you also get friends and family to move their deposits, this can eventually have a big impact, as it incentivizes the mega banks to change how and where they lend to retain customers.

Given the lack of transparency in bank and credit unions’ lending data, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee the details of how your deposits are being used, but we can make an effort to be as aware as possible and to communicate with our lending institutions about what we expect from them to keep our business. For those of us who are making an effort for our finances to reflect our values, changing where you bank can be a particularly impactful action. Consider moving your money to a local Better Banking Option instead of the mega banks. You can find one near you right now with our search engine.


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