Oxfam accepts Board of Deputies' 'red lines'

By Marcus Dysch, January 11, 2013

Oxfam has confirmed that it will continue to work on a joint project with the Board of Deputies after accepting a series of “red lines” presented by the Jewish organisation.

There was confusion this week after a meeting between Board leaders and Oxfam’s Middle East director to discuss the Grow Tatzmiach food poverty programme ended without obvious agreement on the rules.

The Board had told Oxfam that any hardening of its stance on Israel would lead to the termination of the scheme, a threat which the charity did not immediately agree to at the private meeting on Wednesday.

After initially suggesting it could take days or weeks to respond to the Board’s demands, an Oxfam spokeswoman said a response had been sent late on Thursday.

Referring to the red lines document, the spokeswoman said: “It is an internal Board of Deputies document which specifies their terms of engagement. Oxfam has no objections to the document.

“We hope we will be able to continue this partnership with the Board. The partnership supports our Grow campaign which is about making sure that everyone on the planet has enough to eat. One billion people currently go to bed hungry.”

Board president Vivian Wineman said on Thursday that the red lines had been presented to Oxfam as a matter of “politeness” and that the project’s future did not hinge on whether the charity would “sign up” to the rules.

The project could be scuppered when deputies vote on a motion opposing the Board’s link-up with Oxfam at a plenary meeting on January 20.

Board executives are understood to be determined to see the programme go ahead as planned, but are aware that the organisation’s democratic process could see deputies deal them a blow.

The Grow/Tatzmiach programme will bring Jewish campaigners together with Oxfam experts to tackle injustices in the international food system.

Last updated: 10:06am, January 11 2013