Oxfam links: Why we shouldn’t

By Jonathan Hoffman, January 3, 2013

In November we learned from the JC that the Board had agreed to an Oxfam tie-up. Quite apart from annoyance at a fait accompli by the executive of a supposedly democratic body, we judged that many deputies would oppose this tie-up, however worthy the cause.

Oxfam is institutionally anti-Israel and one of the Board’s constitutional aims requires it to “take such appropriate action as lies within its power to advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing”.

Until Oxfam moderates its Israel stance, the Board should restrict interaction to trying to achieve that change, using deputies with the requisite knowledge and skills.

Oxfam is a “core partner” and funder of Crisis Action, which recently produced a paper calling for an EU-wide partial Israel boycott. Oxfam was not one of the 22 Crisis Action members signing the report but it has refused to dissociate from it. Earlier last year, in response to an Oxfam paper, Amir Ofek of the Israeli embassy said: “Oxfam’s latest report …. puts a clearly political agenda above any humanitarian concern. Its call to the international community and to NGOs to initiate projects which clearly violate existing agreements is irresponsible and inflammatory. Far from advancing peace, such an approach undermines the prospects of reaching a negotiated resolution to the conflict.”

If the Board wishes to partner with charities, there are many unimpeachable candidates. The choice of Oxfam was undemocraticand divisive. Further, it weakens the hand of those who advocate for Israel, including trying to change the Co-Op’s boycott, with the support of the Board. How can the left hand of the Board credibly oppose the Co-Op’s boycott if its right hand is pointing in the opposite direction?

Jonathan Hoffman is deputy for Woodside Park

Last updated: 6:45pm, January 3 2013