In April 2010, the UK’s Charity Commission announced it would evaluate War on Want (WoW) over a protest against Israeli goods at the central London Waitrose supermarket.

Protesters wore “Boycott Israeli goods” t-shirts and blocked checkout lines with shopping carts filled with Israeli produce. A YouTube video shows WoW Executive Director John Hilary harassing the supermarket’s manager.

WoW also wrote a letter to the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain chief executives, encouraging them to boycott Israeli products: “By selling settlement produce, your supermarket is complicit in their illegality and making a killing from Palestinian suffering.”

WoW receives government funding from the UK (£231,592), EU (£240,068), Ireland (£69,995). But, the demonstration was a clear violation of Irish Aid policy: “The Irish government is opposed to proposals for trade sanctions or boycotts against Israel.” An Irish Aid representative told the Jerusalem Post that the Irish government “does not fund War on Want Northern Ireland or War on Want UK for work in Palestine.”

Irish Aid’s funding for WoW has changed, and may reflect an awareness that the NGO’s political advocacy is highly problematic: In 2008, Irish Aid funded WoW’s “Sweatshops and Plantations” and “Conflict Zones” programs, while in 2009, support was restricted to “Sweatshops and Plantations” programs only.