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.


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.


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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