Oxfam links: Why we are doing it

By Laura Marks, January 3, 2013
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The “Grow/Tatzmiach Project” is innovative and forward-looking, involving 25 participants including young, dynamic deputies who will be taught campaigning techniques over a weekend of expert training, followed by a six month mentored project on world hunger.

This project could be for Oxfam GB, the programme organisers, or indeed for one of our own Jewish charities. It has been in development and discussion for nearly a year.

Of course, there is some concern about engagement with international non-government organisations (NGOs), powerful influencers of international policies and change.

No-one who cares about the state of Israel accepts unwarranted criticism, especially when there seems to be a lack of balance. However, any meaningful and constructive dialogue begins with discussion of areas of common ground, not by confrontation.

We think that the Board owes it to the community to engage on social justice

Grow/Tatzmiach provides that common ground with Oxfam GB – an undisputed leader in the field of global justice.

Concurrently, and as part of our engagement, on-going meetings with Oxfam GB’s senior team, led by the Board’s President and now including Alex Brummer, International Division chairman, provide the correct environment to question, debate and challenge their policies towards Israel constructively and effectively.

There are clearly lines which we cannot tolerate being crossed. Some NGOs seem to be motivated by their hatred of Israel. With them we hold no truck. But Oxfam GB does not cross those lines: it openly supports a two-state solution and rejects violence.

The Board owes it to our community to engage on issues of social justice.

We must also uphold the ancient traditions at the core of our faith; tzedek (justice), chesed (loving kindness) and tikkun olam (repairing our world).

We also owe it to the community to firmly profess our love and full support for Israel. The two are not mutually exclusive; the day they became so would be a very sad one indeed.

Laura Marks is senior vice president of the Board of Deputies and chair of its Community Issues Division.

Last updated: 6:45pm, January 3 2013