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Thursday, July 17, 2003

OXFAM: "We want our ads to be challenging but never offensive"

Wednesday, 16 July, 2003

Thank you for your email. We appreciate your correspondence and would like to respond to your concern.

Oxfam's mission is to respond to the suffering of people, without regard to race, religion or ethnicity. Oxfam supports the Road Map for peace. We condemn Palestinian suicide bombings and all other acts of terror and violence. We call for the occupation of the Palestinian territories to end.

Oxfam is pro-peace and pro-rights, for both Israelis and Palestinians. We have five affiliate groups who are working in the region on long-term development programs, and with peace activists on both sides of the conflict.

We want our campaigns to be challenging, but never offensive, and we apologize for any offense that has been caused. Our Belgium affiliate, Oxfam-Solidarité, has amended the campaign page of its website, removed the link to the poster image and introduced a new front-page that gives a more measured explanation of its own involvement in this Belgian campaign.

Oxfam in Belgium has also apologized for any offense given.

Its website also now makes clear - where it didn't before - that Oxfam-Solidarité's involvement in the campaign was to target only those goods grown in the occupied territories and exported into the EU. As such,the campaign is against certain actual policies of the Israeli government. It is not against the Israeli or Jewish people. Oxfam condemns prejudice, discrimination and violence toward any racial, ethnic, religious or political groups.

Oxfam hopes that the changes we've made reflect this more clearly and help to answer your concerns.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Anderson
Chairman Oxfam International

Suite 20, 266 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7DL, UK
Tel: ++ 44 1865 31 39 39 / 36 39
Fax: ++ 44 1865 31 37 70
Email: information@oxfaminternational.org

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Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 13:43:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Anne Lieberman"
Subject: Re: Clarification from Oxfam International
To: Information@oxfaminternational.org

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I'm sorry, but this does not "answer my concern."

First of all, I find your use of the term 'occupation' to be inflammatory and biased, in and of itself.

Secondly, your attempt to separate Jews in general from the Israeli government confirms that bias. Trying to cover antisemitism with antizionism merely threatens Jews from a different direction . . . it does not reduce the intrinsic prejudice.

Finally, it is a contradiction in terms when you state that Oxfam is "for" both sides of this conflict. How can you be "for" Israel, and also "for" the Palestinians who seek Israel's destruction? That is so illogical as to be ludicrous.

Please also note that to merely say something is not necessarily to make it true. You may speak of Oxfam's effort to "condemn prejudice, discrimination and violence" toward any group, but it is not true unless it applies equally to Israel. Advocating a boycott of goods from a specific area is a directed act of economic aggression. No matter what your excuses are, or how much you back-pedal, it is blatantly prejudiced to single out Israel for this kind of protest.

Your apologizing for having offended me, while continuing to offend me, is not honest nor sufficient. I will not support your organization, and I will encourage others not to as well. Oxfam should not be the recipient of a single Jewish nickel worldwide, as long as your organization lends any political support whatsoever to the Palestinian "struggle" to eradicate the Jewish state.

If Oxfam is truly "pro-peace," then it will withhold support and legitimization from the Palestinians until such time as they formally recognize the right of the state of Israel to exist. Without recognition of the moral imperative of Jewish existence, the peace you say you support is nothing more than the peace of the grave.

We Jews have been there, done that, and found it unacceptable.

Respectfully yours,

Anne S. Lieberman