By Jonathan Hoffman
May 30, 2013
When in January the Board of Deputies voted to approve a tie-up with Oxfam, it did so only with the comfort of three ‘red lines’ hastily constructed by the Board’s Executive. If any of those red lines was crossed, the tie-up would be abandoned. That was the wording of the motion that was passed. No ifs, no buts …………. It would be ‘discontinued’ if a red line was crossed.
The red lines and wording of the motion were as follows:
We will discontinue our involvement if OXFAM GB:
1. Supports a boycott of any type of Israeli goods.
2. Partners with or supports any organization that promotes or condones violence.
3. Partners with or supports any organisation that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.
At Pesach it was reported on a blog that an NGO called Miftah – which Oxfam funds – carried a version of the antisemitic ‘blood libel’ on its Arabic language website:
Note that “partnering with or supporting any organisation that expresses antisemitism” was not a red line! (Of course it should have been. The fact that it was not simply shows up the haste with which the ‘red lines’ were constructed, in order to ensure the project was approved by the vote in January).
The Board’s Executive delegated the monitoring of the red lines to a group called the “Oxfam Monitoring Group” (“OMG”). Here again is the relevant wording of the motion that was passed:
If in the opinion of the monitoring committee the connection is being exploited in any way to the detriment of the State of Israel then the project will be terminated.
No ifs, no buts … It was to be “terminated” if the OMG thought a red line had been crossed.
The OMG found that a writer called Joharah Baker had written several articles including on the Miftah website which condoned violence against Israel.
For example in July 2006 Baker’s article called “Palestinian Women and the Intifada” was posted on the Miftah website. It was taken down, possibly as part of the response to the antisemitic blood libel article. However, it can be seen here:
The article says:
Palestinian women have also participated in the resistance. As the conflict grew more intense and young men were recruited to carry out military operations against Israeli targets, several young women also decided to join the ranks of the resistance movement. In January 2002, 28-year-old nurse Wafa Idrees, detonated a bomb in Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street, killing one Israeli and injuring 150 others. She was also killed in the blast.
This marked the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause. Over the next two years, seven other women carried out similar operations, the most deadly of which was carried out by Hanadi Jaradat, a 29-year-old attorney from Jenin. Hanadi detonated explosives strapped to her body in a busy Haifa restaurant, killing 19 Israelis and injuring 50 others.
The use of the word ‘resistance’ for suicide bombers and the assertion that suicide bombers were “sacrificing their lives for the cause” represents a clear promotion of violence and condoning of violence.
As recently as July 2012, Joharah Baker wrote an article for the Miftah website attempting to justify the Hezbollah murder of five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian in Burgas, Bulgaria.
There is rhyme and reason behind this hostility towards Israel and it has absolutely nothing to do with ‘anti-semitism’ like Israel would love for the world to believe. It has nothing to do with the holocaust either
This also was a clear justification for the use of violence.
More than three weeks ago the OMG decided that a red line had been crossed. Oxfam was deemed to be “partnering with or supporting an organisation [Miftah] that promotes or condones violence”.
As set out above, that should have triggered an immediate termination of the Board’s tie-up with Oxfam. That was what those Deputies voting in January understood. Many of them only voted for the tie-up reluctantly, having effectively been presented with a fait accompli. “But” they said “ at least we have the comfort factor of the red lines.”
But nothing has happened, more than three weeks after the OMG’s decision.
The Board prides itself on being ‘democratic’.
Where was the ‘democracy’ in presenting Deputies with a fait accompli in January? (there was only a vote because of our motion submitted when we read incredulously about the project in the JC in November)
Where is the ‘democracy’ in ignoring the decision of the OMG , appointed specifically to monitor the red lines?
Is the Executive ‘playing for time’? (the project ends at the end of June).
Do they really think it’s acceptable to ignore the motion that we passed in January – their own motion, moreover?