Oxfam Impoverishes Palestinians

Oxfam is a household name which claims to be committed to ending poverty worldwide.

 Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries.

One person in three in the world lives in poverty. Oxfam is determined to change that world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty.

Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. We save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. And we campaign so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them.

In all we do, Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.

We don’t believe in band-aids. We believe in long-term solutions that address the root causes of poverty. We know from decades of experience that the best approach is to work directly with the communities affected by poverty to overcome the challenges they face. That’s because no one understands their problems better than they do; they just need a little help.

Together, we can empower them to improve their own lives and create more opportunities for their families.

Credit: Times of Israel.

Heartwarming! We know that nobody is more in need of a hand out than the poor oppressed Palestinians. That’s why it was such good news for them when SodaStream opened a factory in the industrial area of Ma’ale Adumim, a city of 40,000 people, employing local Arabs alongside Israelis.

You’d think Oxfam would have been delighted at this “innovative way for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.”

But no; Oxfam hates Israel more than it loves Palestinians:

In 2014, Michael Curtis lambasted Oxfam:

The actress Scarlett Johansson announced she was quitting her role as an ambassador of Oxfam, whose mission is to help alleviate poverty, because of “fundamental differences” between them… The basis for the fundamental differences is now well known. Oxfam is opposed to all trade involving products from Israeli settlements which it holds are illegal under international law. Ms. Johansson signed a contract to be the first brand ambassador and spokesperson for SodaStream, the Israel business making products that allow people to produce carbonated sodas. The company makes those drinks in 25 factories throughout the world, and another one is being built in Israel in the Negev where Bedouins will be employed. Oxfam has shown its public face of being part of the BDS movement against Israel, and has succumbed to the pressure of politically-correct leftists, anti-Semites, and the Palestinian Campaign for the Boycott of Israel. By taking this bigoted position Oxfam has departed from its declared humanitarian mission focused on alleviating poverty… Johansson… replied to Oxfam that she never intended to be the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation, or stance. She believes in economic cooperation and social interaction between democratic Israel and Palestinians. She, like objective analysts, could inform Oxfam that the settlements do not pose a grave threat to efforts to achieve a durable solution, based on international law, to the conflict, nor are they the result of unjust policies and practices that lead to poverty among the Palestinians.

The SodaStream factory in Ma’ale Adumim employs 1300 workers; of these 442 are Palestinians from the West Bank and 237 are Palestinian citizens of Israel, all of whom receive the same benefits as Israeli workers. Apparently their salaries are far higher than those paid by Palestinian employers. Unquestionably, Palestinians would suffer from the closure of this factory.

The official position of Oxfam was made known in remarks made in 2009 by Barbara Stocking, former chief executive of Oxfam GB… Disregarding the fact that more than 600 Palestinians are employed by SodaStream, Stocking argued that settlements have created poverty for many Palestinians.

Oxfam and BDS should be concerned with the multitude of deeply rooted problems faced by Palestinians, and indeed the rest of the Arab world — instability, oppression of its own people as well as the persecution of Christians and Jews, poverty, and sectarian bitterness, just to name a few. These problems have no relationship to Israel or its settlements, but have become the excuse for resentment and hatred of Israel. The biased attitude of Oxfam is undermining the prospect of reaching a negotiated resolution of the conflict. Oxfam funds the organization Crisis Action, a group whose agenda is clearly political, to stop the building of settlements, and to label the products coming from those settlements.


This month, Oxfam’s contribution to the BDS campaign succeeded, with the announcement that SodaStream is closing their factory and relocating to The Negev Desert:

In the wake of international boycott calls, the chief executive of SodaStream has accused his company’s critics of antisemitism, blaming them for hurting the interests of the Palestinian workers they claim to protect.

CEO Daniel Birnbaum accused the BDS movement of spreading lies and said Palestinian employees were given pay and benefits far higher than anything else they could find in the West Bank.

“It’s propaganda. It’s politics. It’s hate. It’s antisemitism. It’s all the bad stuff we don’t want to be part of,”

Birnbaum said.

SodaStream’s pullout from the West Bank was part of a domino effect that will see more companies venture out.

The company was responsible for employing 600 Palestinians at the West Bank factory and sought to transfer their jobs to the Israeli plant. Birnbaum reiterated that only 130 work permits have been granted due to security issues. Unfortunately, many will likely lose their jobs.

“All the people who wanted to close (SodaStream’s West Bank factory) are mistaken. … They didn’t take into consideration the families,” said Ali Jafar, a shift manager from a West Bank village who has worked for SodaStream for two years.

“SodaStream should have been encouraged in the West Bank if (the BDS movement) truly cared about the Palestinian people,”

Birnbaum said.


The Guardian trumpeted SodaStream’s withdrawal:

The West Bank factory is within an illegal settlement in the Israeli-occupied territory.

Palestinians, like other employees, are offered a bus service that brings them to the factory but that will now become a two-hour journey each way that involves crossing an Israeli checkpoint, where workers must show permits and be screened for security checks.

The BDS movement wants to end Israel’s occupation of territories captured in the 1967 war, end discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to family properties lost in the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. Israel says the Palestinian “right of return” would lead to a massive influx of refugees that would mean the end of the country as a Jewish state.

For the BDS movement, SodaStream’s pullout from the West Bank was part of a domino effect that would see more companies sever interests to spare their bottom line. “This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,” said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the movement. He said it would continue to target SodaStream because its new factory is located in an area where Israel has in the past proposed to resettle Bedouin Arabs. The company employs more than 300 Bedouins.


For more on Oxfam’s anti-Israel stance, read Shirlee Finn’s excellent article. She writes:

“ I’ve always been of the opinion that as an international aid agency, they shouldn’t be taking sides politically. In their statement regarding Scarlett’s Johannsson’s resignation they say:

“Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

If that isn’t political I don’t know what is. It’s also rather puzzling when the workers at the Ma’ale Adumim SodaStream factory have specifically asked BDS activists not to be the cause of the factory closure. They earn four times as much as other Arabs in Judaea and Samaria. They have their medical insurance paid for them, they have a mosque on site and many other excellent benefits.

One wonders why an agency which prides itself in international aid helping those in need, would take this stand.

Stand for Peace is a British group which has done an exposé of Oxfam.

“Oxfam is a leading charity in the UK. Thousands of its supporters trust it to make the right decisions. Unfortunately, Oxfam seems to have an extremely poor choice of partners. It sponsors and runs events with a number of extremist groups.”

Oxfam has partnered with groups that support terrorism, religious extremism, antisemitism and advocate violence against Jews, women and homosexuals.

The web site says “Oxfam partnered with Islamic Relief and Human Appeal and Muslim Brotherhood-linked group MADE to produce a ‘campaigns toolkit’.  Both Islamic Relief and Human Appeal have been accused by a number of Governments of being “terrorist fronts”. Further, Islamic Relief’s President, Essam al-Haddad, was the campaign manager for Egyptian President Morsi, who recently described Jews as the “descendents of apes and pigs”.”

 “Oxfam proudly labels itself as the leading supporter of Zaytoun, an organisation run by the pro-Hamas International Solidarity Movement…and one of the leading actors in the movement to boycott Israeli goods.”

In truth, Oxfam channels charity funds to political groups which follow deeply partisan agendas, and support the boycott of Israel. See more here:


Oxfam had the dubious honour of gaining top rating in Edgar Davidson’s list of anti-Semitic NGOs. – and believe me, there was plenty of competition!:

Has become increasingly obsessed with partnering groups who have an anti-Israel pro-terrorist agenda and continues to fund a Palestinian media organisation that puts out Jewish blood libels to its Arabic readers. Especially concerning is its active campaigning to boycott Israel which resulted, for example, in its decision to force out Scarlett Johansson as one its ‘ambassadors’ simply because she featured in an advert promoting an Israeli company (which incidentally provides very good employment opportunities for Palestinians). During the 2014
conflict Oxfam openly supported Hamas and even backed up Hamas’s demand of a sea port to import weapons by staging a major stunt in central London. In case anybody thinks that Oxfam’s obsessive anti-Israel fetish has anything to do with the ‘occupation’ they should read this. Oxfam also uses its website to promote well known antisemites and Jihadists.

Discover the Networks describes Oxfam as an:

  • International relief organization that condemns Israeli defensive measures against terrorism
  • Supports boycotts of Israeli products

“Operating with an annual budget of over $300 million, Oxfam regularly issues political condemnations of Israel while remaining silent about Palestinian-perpetrated human rights abuses and acts of terror. The British branch of Oxfam denounces also Israel‘s security policies against terror attacks. Oxfam Belgium recently produced a poster, in both Flemish and French, calling on Belgian consumers to boycott Israeli products; the poster declared that “Israeli fruits have a bitter taste,” and depicted blood dripping from an Israeli fruit.

Oxfam’s claim to be impartial is questionable. Read the following and judge for yourself:

What does Oxfam do in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel (OPTI)?

Oxfam has been working in OPTI since the 1950s. Working with Israeli and Palestinian partner organizations, Oxfam aims to improve the lives of poor and marginalized Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Why is Oxfam against settlements?

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are widely recognized by international governments as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace. In our daily work we see the negative impact of Israeli settlements on the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian businesses, farmers and herders. These settlements are a major cause of Palestinian poverty and the denial of rights which we try to address in our work. Settlements continue to expand across the West Bank – in the past 20 years the settler population has more than doubled to over 520,000 today. This has resulted in the confiscation of Palestinian land and resources and has fuelled poverty. Settlements also threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state, leaving the West Bank carved into 167 disconnected enclaves. Oxfam supports the two-state solution but settlements are a direct threat to that solution.

But settlements also provide jobs for Palestinians, don’t they?

The occupation, of which Israeli settlements in the West Bank are a large part, is a cause of poverty. According to the World Bank, restrictions on Palestinian access to Area C – the 61% of the West Bank that is under full Israeli government control and where most settlements are located – cost the Palestinian economy about $3.4 billion a year.

Unemployment in the West Bank has risen as a result, with nearly one in three working age Palestinians under 29 unemployed. Some Palestinians do find work in Israeli settlement farms and factories, but this is often because they are restricted from pursuing other livelihoods and have little other choice.

Oxfam works with olive farmers and animal herders living near settlements across the West Bank. They are prevented from accessing parts of their land and receive much less water per person than Israeli settlers. Palestinians in Area C require Israeli permits to build new homes, wells, irrigation systems or animal shelters, but over 95 percent of Palestinian applications are rejected. At the same time, Israeli settlements continue to expand.

Around 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted, and in the past year more than 660 Palestinian homes and property have been demolished. Palestinian olive oil production alone has dropped by 40 percent in the past decade. Unable to make a living on their own land, the only option available to many Palestinians is often settlement factories and farms which receive support from the Israeli government.

Does Oxfam support a boycott of Israel?

No. We oppose trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank because they are illegally built on occupied land, increase poverty among Palestinians, and threaten the chances of a two-state solution. However, we are not opposed to trade with Israel and we do not support a boycott of Israel, or any other country.

We do not fund activities that call for a boycott, divestment or sanctions. Oxfam believes that a vibrant civil society is the best way to overcome global poverty and injustice, and we know that a strong civil society will have many different opinions and approaches. We work with more than 30 diverse Israeli and Palestinian partners and we do not expect that all of them agree with us on all policy issues. Some of them may support a boycott, but we do not fund this part of their work.

Oxfam also does not fund or support any organizations that promote anti-Semitic or any other discriminatory practices, or advocate violence. We believe that trade with settlements, or companies located in settlements, contributes to legitimizing their presence and denying the rights of Palestinians. We promote ethical consumption and we support the right of consumers to know the origin of the products they purchase. Therefore we urge the Israeli government to ensure proper labeling of Israeli products and of settlement products so that consumers can differentiate between them.

So next time Oxfam asks you to buy a goat, tell them to butt out!



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