Summary: The British branch of Oxfam deviated again from claims to be non-political by attacking Israel anti-terror policies and the British government’s support for these actions.


Previous editions of NGO Monitor have profiled Oxfam International, an organization with an annual budget of over $300 million, and its political activities and impact in the conflict. These analyses highlighted Oxfam’s political condemnations of Israel, the tendency towards silence on human rights abuses committed by Palestinians, including the use of children for acts of terror (Abuse of Palestinian Children – NGO Monitor March 2004), and failure to condemn Palestinian suicide bombings (Majority of International and Palestinian NGO’s Fail to Condemn Jerusalem Suicide Bombing – NGO Monitor Feb. 2004). As shown below, the British branch of Oxfam has expanded this political campaign to Israeli security policies against terror attacks.

On 21 April 2004, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that “Oxfam will today demand that the government reveal if British companies have supplied components for Apache helicopters to Israel, the kind that were used to assassinate two Hamas leaders” (“Oxfam Calls for Clarity on Apaches”) This news article quoted Ed Cairns, senior policy analyst at Oxfam: “It’s clear that the government has licensed all sorts of components to Israel without giving us the details." Mr Cairns said it was time the government came clean, stating: "Until they do, people will continue to suspect the government of undermining its bold public statements with secretive arms deals."

While Oxfam’s actions could be seen within the context of its ongoing campaign against British governmental involvement in global arms sales, the organization’s emphasis on Israeli Apache helicopters highlights Oxfam’s ideological agenda. It is clear that Israel has employed such weaponry in order to carry out pinpoint strikes in self-defense against terrorist leaders, with the aim of protecting Israeli lives while minimizing civilian casualties. Nonetheless, Oxfam has seen fit to attack the British government for selling weapon component parts to a fellow democratic nation fighting terrorism. Oxfam is also exhibiting a double standard, condemning Israel’s legitimate security while failing to mention massive British arms sales to Middle Eastern states such as Saudi Arabia as well as other countries with abysmal human rights records.

In addition, as reported by NGO Monitor in April 2004 (Sharon’s disengagement plan – NGOs rush to reject Gaza withdrawal), Oxfam, in partnership with Christian Aid and Cafod, expressed its opposition to Prime Minister Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan in a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is clear that Oxfam continues to advocate for the Palestinian cause, including efforts to influence the political views of the British government and its stance towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


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