According to news reports, following a letter from Oxfam (a British NGO with quasi-autonomous international branches), and in consultation with the group, the British Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs met on March 31, 2009 “to discuss the draft of new, voluntary guidance on origin labeling” regarding the West Bank. Mike Bailey, Oxfam’s representative in Jerusalem, expressed concern that “if the produce is not clearly labelled, consumers are denied the opportunity to make an informed choice, so they may unwittingly be supporting an illegal occupation.” In contrast, critics noted that this type of political activity was entirely out of Oxfam’s mandate, could deprive Palestinians of badly needed employment, hurt successful examples of economic cooperation, and was a step towards legitimizing wider boycotts against Israeli products. Oxfam officials have ignored Palestinian abuse of aid for terror attacks, and this highly biased charity has also been silent in the face of Palestinian violations of international law.
Oxfam is also supporting a program to spray-paint messages on the Security Barrier, with the goal of “encourage[ing] Palestinians living in the West Bank.”
Oxfam’s pro-Palestinian campaign was very active during the Gaza fighting, featuring false international legal claims, a webpage that featured tendentious blog entries, and calls for increased diplomatic pressure and demands that the EU and other international bodies suspend agreements with Israel (no similar demands were presented with respect to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, or Iran). In fact, the BBC and Sky News refused to air a television appeal on behalf of Palestinian victims by an Oxfam-affiliated charity on the grounds that it would jeopardize the broadcasters’ impartial and objective stance on the conflict. Oxfam’s biases are inconsistent with claims to focus on humanitarian activities.