Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Oxfam anti-Israel campaigns taste bitter: the "Unattributable Gaza Update"

In July 2003, Oxfam Belgium produced this poster: "Israeli fruit tastes bitter. Say no to the occupation of Palestine. Don't buy any fruit from Israel." for which it eventually apologized, after an international campaign was successfully launched by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (here and here). The poster still features prominently on the website of the Belgian-Palestinian Association, whose chairman is a former Oxfam Belgium head, Pierre Galand, who keeps the tradition very much alive.

Now Blue Truth has this story:
Oxfam's Unattributable Gaza Update

""Unattributable Gaza Update": that is the actual title of periodic e-mail alerts sent out from Oxfam International, the UK-based NGO. The subtitle states "This document is for your information only – do not attribute to Oxfam International – check and confirm all figures before reporting." One of the e-mails that I received was signed by 'Mohammed Ali' Abu Najela "Advocacy and Media Researcher, Oxfam GB, Gaza Strip - Occupied Palestinian Territories" and the other was signed by Michael Bailey "Advocacy and Media Manager, Jerusalem Office".

The e-mail contains various statistics regarding reports of food and fuel delivery, electric power supplies, personnel movement, and incidents of rocket fire between Hamas and Israel. Interestingly, despite the significant amount of humanitarian aid supplied by Israel, none of the aid reported in Oxfam's e-mail is listed as coming from Israel-sources are UNRWA, WHO, "commercial" and "conveyor belt" (presumably unloaded at one of the crossings).

Given the curious disclaimers in the e-mail, I sent my own e-mails to Oxfam asking why they send out information that they don't want to be attributed to them. I received a response from one Elizabeth Stevens, Oxfam America Humanitarian Communications Officer:

"I think you received an update that we sent to a specific distribution list. The sources for the information for these updates are thought to be reliable, but as most of the observations aren't our own, we can't say with absolute certainty that they are true. We included the caveat because we don't want anyone on the list to pass the information on without taking further measures to verify it. It is important that people intervening in any volatile conflict situation be able to keep track of the ever-changing landscape; however, not all information collected under these conditions can be verified quickly or easily. We want to be sure the readers on our list get what they need to do their jobs and that they also understand the limitations of the fact-gathering."

Now comes the interesting part: now that I have made this inquiry, I am now on the "specific distribution list" for more of these Unattributable Updates! Last I checked, I don't need this information to do MY job. So why does Oxfam think I should receive these? Given the history of deliberate misinformation and media manipulation by Palestinians and their advocates, this could be just another way that Palestinians use NGOs as part of their propaganda war. Certainly it's not like information, especially unattributable information, would ever circulate around the Internet!

Unfortunately, this is not really a humorous matter. The al-Durah affair was used by Palestinians to inflame tensions and inspire heinous acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. The so-called "Jenin massacre", the Hezbollah photo frauds unquestioningly disseminated by Reuters, and the Gaza beach incident in which the deaths of civilians from a Palestinian land mine were blamed on an Israeli attack-- all were prominently used against Israel while the "corrections", if ever acknowledged at all, were made very quietly. Just 2 months ago, there was a miracle that occurred in Gaza that received remarkably little press coverage-- a Palestinian who had died, allegedly because he was denied access to Israel for medical care according to the press release from Physicians for Human Rights in a story given prominent play on the BBC, was resurrected the next day, though I don't think the BBC felt that his resurrection was unusual enough to publicize. What if I suggested that Oxfam and other NGOs knowingly manipulate their reports to deliberately harm Israel? What if I suggested that Oxfam and other NGOs knowingly employed Hamas terrorists on the ground in Gaza; or that they were required to pay a percentage of their funds (donated by well-meaning citizens in Europe and the US) to Hamas to help fund Gazan rocket factories; or that they knowingly collaborated in allowing Hamas to limit the distribution of aid to its own loyalists? These observations aren't my own, so I can't say with absolute certainty that they are true. (...)"

Special Report: "Pierre Galand (Belgium) Using Political NGOs to Promote Demonization & Anti-Semitism in the UN & EU" (NGO Monitor, 2004).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do not buy anything from Oxfam.