Shalom Life | May 27, 2015

Op-Ed: Oxfam's Hypocrisy on the Israel Boycott

While the international charity says it doesn't fund 'activities' calling for an Israel boycott, it does support many organizations leading the battle against Israel. How do its people know where that money goes?

By: Yaniv Halily

Published: February 13th, 2014 in News » Israel

In the past few weeks, the Oxfam charity organization has been leading the battle against the SodaStream company around the world. As you may recall, the Israeli beverage company was at the center of an international storm when actress Scarlett Johansson, who stars in its campaigns, refused to cancel her advertising contract with the company and even expressed her objection to international boycott initiatives against Israel.

Oxfam harshly criticized Johansson and even ended its relationship with the movie star, who served as the organization's global ambassador.

Now it turns out that Oxfam's intensive activity against SodaStream may be motivated by additional interests. According to reports in the international press, the organization received high amounts of money in funding from the Coca-Cola Company.

SodaStream manufactures a product which competes with Coca-Cola, and different sources in Britain, where the Oxfam management offices are based, say the company failed to provide proper disclosure on the affair. And what does Oxfam have to say about it? The organization's spokespeople have not responded to my question about the funding issue.

Moreover, Oxfam donated money to a study about the effects of Coca-Cola's entry into different countries in Africa, and its conclusions were mainly positive. The research even lacks any critical note on the damage the sweetened beverages cause consumers, especially children, and on diseases like diabetes or overweight which the company's products help accelerate.

Israel supporters will likely see a paradox in the relationship between Coca-Cola and Oxfam. The beverages' damaging effects don’t really fit together with human rights.

But the organization's one-sided policy does not end here. Its spokespeople declare that Oxfam does not donate to activities calling for a boycott of Israel. The wording offered by the organization's spokespeople refers to "activities" and not to "organizations," and emphasizing this issue is not semantically petty.

Oxfam donates to many organizations which call for imposing a boycott on Israel. The organizations which lead the international battle against Israel and enjoy Oxfam's support include Coalition of Women for Peace – an organization affiliated with the Who Profits website, which specifies a list of Israeli and international companies prone to boycotts and encourages their boycott.

Oxfam also donates money to Israeli organizations like the Zochrot association, which encourages the international public discourse on the Palestinian "Nakba" and calls for the right of return, even at the cost of losing the State's Jewish identity. Many boycott organizations around the world enjoy the activity of organizations like Zochrot and use them as a platform for encouraging boycotts of Israel.

Oxfam's response that the organization doesn’t fund activities advancing a boycott of Israel is demagogic: How do its people know where the money they donate to organizations which launch calls against Israel goes? And isn't it about time for the charity organization to examine itself in great detail before it ferments the bubbles around SodaStream's fizzy beverages?

Reprinted with permission from Ynet News

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