Oxfam and Gaza

Oxfam seems like such a nice charity.  It’s slogan is “The power of people against poverty.” What can be controversial about that?

Much of the organization’s work is focused on providing aid and services to poor communities around the world.  Work includes bringing clean water, food and basic services to people in need.

However, the organization also goes beyond a core mission of charity to other rights-based work including human rights and women’s rights.  The charity claims that “when people have the power to claim their basic human rights, they can escape poverty – permanently” and “the right to gender justice underpins all of our work.” Such activity leads Oxfam to get involved in politics and to advocate for particular actions by governments.

Oxfam produces reports and details its assessments of certain regions and their treatment of people.  Consider the report which warns about a potential slide in the treatment of women in Afghanistan.  Oxfam clearly “called on world leaders to ensure that any peace deal includes benchmarks to guarantee women’s rights” and highlighted the terrible crimes of “honor killings” in which wives and daughters are killed by family members if they engaged in something considered impure, like dressing inappropriately or turning down a male suitor.

Oxfam also puts feet on the ground to encourage peace in places such as South Sudan where “Oxfam has been working closely with communities and their leaders in Rumbek to establish peace committees that are now avenues for different clans to meet on a regular basis to discuss issues, mediate conflicts and encourage peaceful co-existence.” Such activity is obviously well beyond delivering humanitarian aid.

Consider Oxfam’s approach to Gaza.

Gaza

Oxfam has repeatedly called for “world leaders to press the Israeli government to lift the blockade on Gaza which Israel put in place in June 2007 to prevent arms smuggling after the terrorist group Hamas took over Gaza.  Hamas has used its weapons to fire over 10,000 rockets into Israel since then.

Legality: Oxfam called the blockade “illegal,” even though the United Nations Palmer Report of 2011 clearly stated “that Israel’s naval blockade was legal… Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza.  The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.

Ignoring the ruling authority of the terrorist group, Hamas: Oxfam stated that “The government of Israel holds the primary responsibility to lift the blockade, although agencies signing on to the campaign also recognize that reconstruction is hindered by the failure of Palestinian political parties to reconcile and prioritize reconstruction, and by Egypt’s closure of its border with Gaza.”

An amazing gloss over the facts.  Not only does Israel have “primary responsibility” for the situation, but the failure to alleviate the plight of ordinary people in Gaza according to Oxfam is also “the failure of Palestinian political parties to reconcile.” Hamas is a terrorist organization sworn to destroy Israel that repeatedly attacks Israelis. Until it relinquishes control of Gaza, the blockade will stay in place. It is not a matter that there is an internal division between Palestinian leaderships, as Oxfam states.

Collective Punishment:  Oxfam continued: “The government of Israel justifies the restrictions on security grounds. However, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have repeatedly asserted that the blockade is a violation of international law. Indeed, there can never be justification for collective punishment of an entire population and leaving tens of thousands of families homeless and hundreds of thousands of children without a school or health centers.

Not only did the UN report specifically state that the blockade is legal as noted above, it also disputed the nature of “collective punishment” when it concluded that “although a blockade by definition imposes a restriction on all maritime traffic, given the relatively small size of the blockade zone and the practical difficulties associated with other methods of monitoring vessels (such as by search and visit), the Panel is not persuaded that the naval blockade was a disproportionate measure for Israel to have taken in response to the threat it faced.

Blame: Further, the phrasing of the Oxfam article put the blame for homeless families and “children without a school or health centers” on Israel, instead of the terrorist group Hamas that continues its war to destroy Israel.

Women’s Rights and Co-Existence:  Interestingly, for an organization that claims that “gender justice underpins all of our work,” it never once mentions in any of its numerous articles about Gaza, that Gaza now leads the world in the number of “honor killings” of women per capita.  It also doesn’t seem as keen to promote co-existence between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs as it does in South Sudan.


Oxfam is not simply a charitable organization, but a political one as well. It goes beyond important work of helping the poor, to a mission-based action group influencing governments.

When it comes to Gaza, it has turned a blind eye to an anti-Semitic terrorist government and focuses instead on demonizing a democracy that is protecting its citizens. It has produced articles with misinformation and circulated petitions to open Israel to attacks.

Consider that when you see an Oxfam volunteer walk up to you on the street.

oxfam


Related First.One.Through articles:

UN’s Confusion on the Legality of Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

Cause and Effect: Making Gaza

Honor Killings in Gaza

Gaza Blockade versus Cuban Blockade

Save the Children

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UN’s Confusion on the Legality of Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

In June 2015, the United Nations issued a report highly critical of Israel’s handling of its war against Palestinian attacks. Throughout the report, the committee suggested that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was a major cause for suffering of Palestinians, rather than a result of Palestinian actions, and helped precipitate the war.

Member of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict Doudou Diene (L) gestures next to Chairperson of the Commission Mary McGowan Davis during a press conference to present their report on June 22, 2015 at the United Nations Office in Geneva. Both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during last year's Gaza war, a widely anticipated United Nations report said on June 22, decrying "unprecedented" devastation and human suffering.   AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI

Member of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict Doudou Diene (L) gestures next to Chairperson of the Commission Mary McGowan Davis during a press conference to present their report on June 22, 2015 at the United Nations Office in Geneva.  AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI

2015 UN Assertion that
Blockade was Cause for Conflict

In the section of the report that reviewed the background to the 2014 conflict, the report stated that “In the preceding months, there were few, if any, political prospects for reaching a solution to the conflict that would achieve peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis and realize the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. The blockade of Gaza by Israel, fully implemented since 2007 and described by the Secretary-General as “a continuing collective penalty against the population in Gaza” (A/HRC/28/45, para. 70), was strangling the economy in Gaza and imposed severe restrictions on the rights of the Palestinians.” By way of correction and education to the reader, the naval blockade of Gaza only began in January 2009 (not 2007). The land blockade of Gaza began in 2007 after Hamas routed Fatah from Gaza and took complete control of the region.

It is important and significant to point out that this 2015 report suggested that there were “few POLITICAL PROSPECTS for reaching a solution” and that the “blockade of Gaza.. was strangling the economy” and “imposed severe restrictions” on Palestinians. This directly implied that the Palestinians were seeking a political solution and rightfully frustrated with a blockade that was imposed on them (presumably for no reason).  Therefore, since a political solution was not available, they were forced to pursue a military response.

That is outrageous on many levels.

  1. Hamas has stated clearly in its charter and in addresses by its leaders that it seeks the complete destruction of Israel and that it will never enter peace negotiations. (A fact that was never mentioned in the UN report)
  2. Hamas clearly stated that it would not pursue any “peaceful solutions and international conferences” as seen in its charter, below.
  3. Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 2007 is never mentioned in the UN report.

Hamas Charter Article 13: “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement…. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters… There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

The UN report inverted reality and ignored that the blockade of Gaza was in response to Hamas’s taking over of Gaza and firing thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians.

 2015 UN Report
Call to Remove the Blockade

The UN report concluded with several suggestions which clearly placed the blame for the conflict on Israel’s actions: “The commission calls upon the Government of Israel… to address structural issues that fuel the conflict and have a negative impact on a wide range of human rights, including the right to self-determination; in particular, to lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza.

This conclusion and suggestion are in stark contrast to the September 2011 UN “Palmer Commission Report” which clearly spoke of the legal nature of Israel’s blockade of Gaza and spoke to the harm and evil intent of Hamas which necessitated the blockade.

 

2011 UN Report
on LEGAL NATURE of Blockade of Gaza

To start, the Palmer Report correctly identified the different blockades of Gaza and the reason for them: “the tightening of border controls between Gaza and Israel came about after the take-over of Hamas in Gaza in June 2007.  On the other hand, the naval blockade was imposed more than a year later, in January 2009.”

The report continued that “the naval blockade as a distinct legal measure was imposed primarily to enable a legally sound basis for Israel to exert control over ships attempting to reach Gaza with weapons and related goods.  This was in reaction to certain incidents when vessels had reached Gaza via sea.”

The report then continued in greater detail on the “structural issues that fuel the conflict” with specific history (as opposed to simply echoing the Palestinian narrative as it did in the 2015 report): “Israel has faced and continues to face a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza.  Rockets, missiles and mortar bombs have been launched from Gaza towards Israel since 2001.  More than 5,000 were fired between 2005 and January 2009, when the naval blockade was imposed.  Hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians live in the range of these attacks.  As their effectiveness has increased some rockets are now capable of reaching Tel Aviv. Since 2001 such attacks have caused more than 25 deaths and hundreds of injuries.  The enormity of the psychological toll on the affected population cannot be underestimated.  In addition, there have been substantial material losses.  The purpose of these acts of violence, which have been repeatedly condemned by the international community, has been to do damage to the population of Israel.  It seems obvious enough that stopping these violent acts was a necessary step for Israel to take in order to protect its people and to defend itself.

In regard for using a naval blockade to prevent the assault from Gaza on Israel, the report stated “The Israeli report to the Panel makes it clear that the naval blockade as a measure of the use of force was adopted for the purpose of defending its territory and population, and the Panel accepts that was the case.  It was designed as one way to prevent weapons reaching Gaza by sea and to prevent such attacks to be launched from the sea.  Indeed there have been various incidents in which ships carrying weapons were intercepted by the Israeli authorities on their way to Gaza.”

In sharp contrast to the 2015 report which cited the UN Secretary General’s comment that the blockade was a “collective penalty against the population in Gaza“, the 2011 Palmer Report concluded that “Although a blockade by definition imposes a restriction on all maritime traffic, given the relatively small size of the blockade zone and the practical difficulties associated with other methods of monitoring vessels (such as by search and visit), the Panel is not persuaded that the naval blockade was a disproportionate measure for Israel to have taken in response to the threat it faced.

The report concluded with clarity: “Israel was entitled to take reasonable steps to prevent the influx of weapons into Gaza.  With that objective, Israel established a series of restrictions on vessels entering the waters of Gaza.  These measures culminated in the declaration of the naval blockade on 3 January 2009… There is nothing before the Panel that would suggest that Israel did not maintain an effective and impartial blockade….  it is evident that Israel had a military objective.  The stated primary objective of the naval blockade was for security.  It was to prevent weapons, ammunition, military supplies and people from entering Gaza and to stop Hamas operatives sailing away from Gaza with vessels filled with explosives… It is also noteworthy that the earliest maritime interception operations to prevent weapons smuggling to Gaza predated the 2007 take-over of Hamas in Gaza.  The actual naval blockade was imposed more than one year after that event. These factors alone indicate it was not imposed to punish its citizens for the election of Hamas….  As this report has already indicated, we are satisfied that the naval blockade was based on the need to preserve Israel’s security.  Stopping the importation of rockets and other weapons to Gaza by sea helps alleviate Israel’s situation as it finds itself the target of countless attacks, which at the time of writing have once again become more extensive and intensive…  We have reached the view that the naval blockade was proportionate in the circumstances… The Panel therefore concludes that Israel’s naval blockade was legal… Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza.  The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.

Quite a different narrative and conclusion than the UN wrote up in 2015.


Related FirstOneThrough article:

Cause and Effect: Making Gaza

Gaza Blockade versus Cuban Blockade

Collective Guilt / Collective Punishment

The town of Sayreville, New Jersey is in mourning.

The superintendent of the town shut the high school’s football program for the rest of the year due to reports of sexual assaults made by upper classmen of the football team against the junior classmen. According to initial reports, the incidents have been commonplace for many years.

The town outcry has not been limited to the assaults on the teenagers. People in the town have been vocal and angry about the cancellation of the year’s games and the number of people they feel are unfairly impacted. One resident said: “I don’t think the whole team should be punished. I feel like only two or more students are involved, and they are the ones that should be kicked off.

The investigation into the hazing is in early stages, but it is fair to conclude that many people that did not participate in the crime will be impacted by the cancellation of the team’s football season. Impacted parties will range from team players, coaches and cheerleaders to business people that rely on the games to generate traffic into their stores.

Debates over collective guilt and collective punishment are not new. In many instances, the guilty parties do not squarely overlap with those impacted by the punishment. Oftentimes –as made clear by the Sayreville superintendent- the punishment serves to protect the assaulted parties in an absolute fashion while penalizing the broader collective in a relatively minor fashion.

Should the investigation yield certain results, people would certainly reconsider the broader community culpability in the crime. Imagine if the following facts were uncovered:

  • The form of hazing was written as part of the team manual
  • The team acquired lots of equipment that was specifically used for hazing rituals
  • The team had a statue of one of the seniors who successfully led the most hazings
  • The name of the stadium where the team played was of an acknowledged child molester
  • The coach was seen in various YouTube videos extolling the virtues of hazing to get the desired results from his players
  • The town democratically elected the coach knowing of his support for hazing

This sounds too crazy to remotely resemble reality. If it were true, people would conclude that the entire team, coaching staff, school and town were all equally culpable for the terrible deeds done to the teenagers. The state and country would demand more than just cancelling the season, but a dismantling of the entire institution. The town would be blacklisted by every organization in the country and effectively shut down, as the collective guilt would be seen as wide and deep.

The insane list above does not relate to Sayreville, NJ; but they are the actions taken by Palestinians and their elected leadership.

  • The Hamas Charter calls on all Arabs to kill Jews everywhere
  • The Palestinian Authority routinely praises murderers of innocent Jewish civilians and names squares and tournaments after the killers
  • Hamas used the cement it requested as “aid”, not for building schools or homes, but for digging tunnels into Israel to attack, abduct and kill Israeli civilians and soldiers
  • The tunnel network from Gaza started in homes of many Palestinians
  • Hamas launched thousands of rockets targeting Israeli cities
  • The head of Hamas called for deliberate bombings of Israeli cities to the cries of support from thousands of Palestinians
  • Hamas was democratically elected by Palestinians in January 2006, winning 58% of the parliament
  • Polls in August 2014 have Hamas winning 61% of the vote

What was the “punishment” that Israel enforced against the rabid anti-Semites that sought to kill its citizens and wipe out the country? Israel enforced a blockade of Gaza in 2007 after Hamas took control of the area. Yet it continued to allow electricity, food and supplies into Gaza despite the repeated Hamas statements that it sought to destroy Israel. The goal of the blockade was not a punishment, but a means to stop the flow of arms into Gaza which would be used to attack Israel.

What was the world reaction to a relatively light blockade of Gaza compared to the deliberate killing of Jews and destruction of Israel? A rebuke at the nature of the collective punishment on all of the people in Gaza.

Consider the Sayreville, NJ case again. Imagine the football team, school and community participated in all of those theoretical actions. How broad and severe would the punishment be? Each of those actions are not theoretical, but the reality of Palestinians in their approach towards Jews and Israel.

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it should enforce the dismantling of Hamas in its entirety.


Sources:

Sayreville football scandal: http://usatodayhss.com/2014/seven-sayreville-n-j-football-players-facing-charges-in-hazing-scandal

Sayreville town people comment: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/middlesex-county/2014/10/07/sayreville-rocked-football-bullying-allegations/16879455/

The Palestinian democracy for Hamas: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/its-the-democracy-stupid/

Hamas election 2006: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012600372.html

Hamas August 2014 poll: http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Hamas-Haniyeh-would-trounce-Abbas-if-elections-held-today-Palestinian-poll-says-374296

Hamas Charter: “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.” http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/documents/charter.html?chocaid=397

Fatah dedicating square to Dalal Mughrabi, murderer of 37 people on a bus: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=1802

Washington Post article on Hamas building terror tunnels: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/21/how-hamas-uses-its-tunnels-to-kill-and-capture-israeli-soldiers/

Palestinian leadership on Jews and Israel: http://www.adl.org/anti-semitism/muslim-arab-world/c/hamas-in-their-own-words.html

Palestinians rejoicing in the bombing of Israeli cities: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4455.htm

The outrageous inversion of reality by Rashid Khalidi in the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/collective-punishment-gaza

Yasser Arafat quote: “We will not bend or fail until the blood of every last Jew from the youngest child to the oldest elder is spilt to redeem our land!”  http://www.siotw.org/modules/myalbum/photo.php?lid=406#.VDxtJ_8tCUk

Gaza Blockade versus Cuban Blockade

In 1962, US President John F Kennedy had a showdown with Russia to keep missiles from reaching Cuba. The US blockaded Cuba, and has a strict embargo which continues to exist in various forms today.

Cuba vs. Gaza

  • Cuba never stated its intention of wiping the US off of the map; it is in Hamas Charter and daily rants of its leadership
  • Cuba never fired a missile into the US; Hamas has fired over 10,000
  • Cuba never abducted US servicemen; Hamas has taken Israelis
  • Cuba never used suicide bombings against American civilians; Hamas has conducted over 100 bombings in Israel
  • Cuba is miles from US shores; almost all of Gaza borders Israel
  • Cuba does not have a racist government calling to kill Americans; Gaza has an anti-Semitic government that calls for killing Jews
  • The relative land size of Cuba:USA is larger than Gaza:Israel
  • The relative population size of Cuba:USA is larger than Gaza:Israel


Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba

Biased New York Times report on recent Gaza blockade boat

NYT April 30, 2014 on explosion that sank potential blockade-busting boat from Gaza:
1. No mention that the Israeli blockade of Gaza has been deemed legal by international law

2. The boat is called “small” in keeping with the David v. Goliath imagery the NYT likes to impart in the conflict

3. No mention that the terrorist group Hamas runs Gaza. Instead we see terms of “Palestinian activists”, “Palestinian fishing boats” and “Palestinian goods” to make this terrorist haven sound like Bermuda

4. The “clashes that broke out” were not passive, they were Turks trying to kill soldiers who reacted in self-defense.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/world/middleeast/blast-in-gaza-damages-boat-meant-for-protest.html