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March 27, 2014 – The controversial NGO Oxfam has been accused of ties to the terror group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in a new report just published by Shurat Hadin, the Israel Law Center. The Tower previously reported the alleged terror links late last month.
Oxfam found itself the subject of adverse scrutiny in recent months after the much-publicized resignation of its ambassador, actress Scarlett Johansson, over the latter’s acceptance of a job as spokesperson for the Israeli company Sodastream. In addition to violating its own stated principles, it is possible that Oxfam violated international law too.
Oxfam objected to Johansson’s representing an enterprise that was located in disputed territories, but, as Johansson pointed out, Sodastream embodied principles that were consistent with Oxfam’s goals. In response to the controversy, the actress wrote, “I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment,” and that this cooperation is what she witnessed at Sodastream.
During the controversy, NGO Monitor’s president, Professor Gerald Steinberg added that a number of Oxfam’s partners were supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Writing in the Canadian Jewish News, Steinberg observed that despite Oxfam’s claims that it wasn’t associated with BDS, “the facts proved the contrary.”: Between 2011 and 2013, the Dutch branch, known as Oxfam Novib, provided almost $500,000 (largely from government funds provided ostensibly for humanitarian aid) to one of the most radical BDS leaders, the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP). This group also received funds from Oxfam GB (Great Britain). The discrepancy between Oxfam’s claims and the documentation of its role in BDS was highlighted by SodaStream executives and in a number of media articles.
Moreover, Steinberg wrote, the BDS movement isn’t about achieving a two state solution but rather “the elimination of Jewish sovereign equality, regardless of borders.”
But in a new report issued yesterday, (.pdf), Shurat HaDin claims it has uncovered other questionable associations of the charity. Among the Palestinian organizations Oxfam works with are the the Union of Health Workers Committees (UHWC) and the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC). While the names of these NGO’s are nonthreatening, both groups have organizational ties to PFLP “one of the oldest and most violent Palestinian terrorist organizations in the world.” The PFLP is designated a terror organization by the United States, the European Union, and other bodies.
While the Israel Law Center acknowledges that Oxfam’s involvement with the UHWC and UAWC appears to be “benign,” nonetheless “this is not relevant under international and sovereign law.” The Israel Law Center pointed to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling (.pdf) supporting this thesis, that asserts “lawful conduct can be diverted to advance terrorism in multiple ways.”
Oxfam has done much good, but some of its associations threaten its image.
David Hazony, editor of The Tower magazine profiled Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder of the Israel Law Center in The Woman Who Makes the Jihadis Squirm in the February, 2014 issue of the magazine. In February, The Israel Project hosted a conference call with Nitsana-Darshan Leitner and Avi Leitner, on the Oxfam scandal. A transcript of the call is available here.