A report for the UK Department for Internatioanal Development (DFID) found that “more than half of all international coverage on the main UK bulletins focused on the USA, Australia and Israel.” Reportedly, charities are therefore finding it more difficult to “generate coverage for international stories”. Oxfam’s head of media, Sam Barratt, lamented this phenomenon saying that “Oxfam is adjusting to the decline by establishing media partnerships and longer-term projects that are better insulated from these pressures.”
Oxfam’s comments however, are ironic given the fact that Oxfam is itself a major part of the problem. Its own activities reflect a highly disproportionate focus on Israel and obsession with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Oxfam Great Britain alone put out 16 press releases on Israel between December 27, 2008 and January 30, 2009 – more than all of the press releases issued about the entire world in the month of June, 2009. Oxfam has also lobbied the EU, held press conferences and published reports on the situation in Gaza, promoting the Palestinian narrative and fueling the conflict. As part of the DEC, Oxfam attempted to televise an appeal for Gaza on the BBC and Sky News, not for any other crisis.
So which came first – the media over-emphasis on Israel, or disproportionate NGO focus? Either way, the report is clear: UK citizens are not getting the picture, and Oxfam is part of the problem.