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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Subject: Oxfam International response


To: "Anne Lieberman"
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 16:21:52 +0100

Thank you for your response. Oxfam is primarily concerned with peace and the human rights of innocent Israelis and Palestinians who have suffered so much in this conflict. Of course, in such a long and complex dispute there will be many opinions about the best way to achieve this.

We know that there are many Israelis and Jewish people outside Israel who support our efforts to work with people on both sides of the dispute - both in the region and internationally - and there also are many who do not. The same is true for Palestinians, and we accept that we will have disagreements with people on both sides.

But to reiterate, we do not want to offend people and for that reason Oxfam Belgium has removed the campaign link on their website and they have apologised for any offence given. I hope you will accept that Oxfam has responded to your criticism in good faith, even if you may not agree with our overall approach.

Once again thank you for your concern.

Ian Anderson.
Chairman Oxfam International


* * * *


The blatant hypocrisy of Oxfam

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 11:25:35 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Anne Lieberman"
Subject: Re: Oxfam International response
To: Information@oxfaminternational.org


Dear Ian Anderson,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my concerns. I must say, however, that I find your responses insincere and insufficent. I have read Oxfam's mission statement, including your stated purpose: "Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty." The boycott of Israeli fruits and vegetables advocated by your Belgian affiliate, Oxfam-Solidarity, --if "successful"-- would increase the poverty of the Jews who grow those fruits and vegetables. Do you not see the blatant hypocrisy inherent in your position?

Furthermore, I fail to understand how an organization "primarily concerned with peace" can advocate acts of economic aggression such as this boycott. I'm sure you would condemn the "collective punishment" of a people based simply on who they are and where they are, yet you seem to have no compunction whatsoever about punishing Jews who make a living growing food in areas which are the object of political dispute.

Oxfam's own International Code of Conduct requires affiliates to "demonstrate cultural sensitivity" and to exclude "political affiliations or other such affiliations which may compromise its independence." Singling out Israeli Jews in the disputed territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza for this type of protest is not only the height of cultural insensitivity, it constitutes a highly political affiliation with a specific political agenda -- in direct contradiction of your own Code of Conduct.

Even Oxfam International's Constitution (Article 2, item "a") states specifically that the object of your organization is "to relieve poverty, combat distress and alleviate suffering in any part of the world regardless of race, creed or political convictions." Contrary to such a noble purpose, the boycott of Israeli produce does not relieve, but rather intentionally increases Jewish poverty, Jewish distress and Jewish suffering, while concurrently failing to do anything helpful for Palestinians! Please note the wording of this phrase: ". . . regardless of race, creed or political convictions." I would assume that Oxfam affiliates are thus obligated and bound NOT to discriminate on any one of these bases. How then can the boycott be allowed when it is targeted at a population which shares all these characteristics, in addition to simple location?

Because there is no other such action being taken by Oxfam (of which I am aware) with regard to any other people in the world, regardless of any number of comparably complex and painful situations, I can only conclude that this boycott is driven by anti-semitism. As a Jew and a supporter of Zionism, I resent this and protest it vehemently.

I call upon Oxfam International to immediately disassociate itself from its Belgian affiliate, Oxfam-Solidarity, which is acting in direct contradiction to the Mission Statement, International Code of Conduct, and Constitution --of Oxfam International.

Sincerely,
Anne Lieberman




P.S.

The image above appears at http://www.oxfamsol.be/eng/boycott.htm with the following statement:

"Oxfam-Solidarity calls on supermarkets and grocers not to stock products from the Occupied Territories and on consumers also not to buy these goods."

You say in your email to me that Oxfam-Solidarity has "removed the campaign link on their website, and they have apologized for any offence given" as if the situation has changed and everything is now fine. It has not, and it is not.

You may hope that apologizing for offending will pass for an honest and substantial response, but it doesn't. Your organization continues to offend.

I AM ONE ANGRY JEW and I will not be satisfied until either Oxfam International has disassociated itself from its Belgian affiliate, or Oxfam-Solidarity has withdrawn its participation in, and support for, this despicable boycott.