So declared a senior Board of Deputies figure following the Board's decision last Sunday (by 113 votes to 65 with 15 abstentions) to proceed with the initiative known as Grow-Tatzmiach, a partnership in which Oxfam will train Jewish activists to fight global hunger.
Explained Board president Vivian Wineman following the vote:
“It’s a great project. It doesn’t mean we agree with Oxfam – we’ve made it clear to them, and they are very aware of how the Board feels. They’ve had to explain to their own supporters why they are doing a project with an organization that is so anti-boycott. We are not giving a ‘hechsher’ [kosher certification] to Oxfam’s views on Israel or its actions, but showing that we can engage on things we do agree on.”But deputy Jonathan Hoffman, the doughty high-profile Zionist Federation stalwart who spearheaded the campaign against cooperation with Oxfam, observed:
“This project sends entirely the wrong message. To Israel’s enemies, it says even the Board supports an organization hostile to Israel – look how isolated Israel is. To Israel’s friends, it says the Board’s not serious about fighting delegitimization. How can it be, when it rushes into a tie-up with one of the most hostile charities?
It’s a sad day for British Jewry. I apologise to the people in southern Israel for the fact that deputies have endorsed as a partner an organisation that wants to put their lives in danger by completely opening the borders of Gaza.
I have applied to be on the Project Oversight Committee and, given Oxfam’s record, I fully expect the Board’s ‘red lines’ to be crossed within a matter of weeks, if not days.
I pay tribute to those who spoke so eloquently on our side and to those who fronted the campaign in recent weeks... We could not have done more.”Just how hostile Oxfam is was summarised, during the campaign, by StandforPeace.
As one deputy who spoke against the proposal said of Oxfam:
“It is tainted by its history of statements on Israel. The ramifications of this do not seem to have been thought through.”Added deputy and Middle East analyst Jonathan Sacerdoti:
“This is a PR attempt to make Oxfam look like they are working with Jews. We don’t need a PR stunt to prove we care about world hunger. We are being asked to do something quite cynical.”It seems that some deputies who wished to vote against the project were prevented by the wintry conditions of snow and ice from travelling, and accordingly missed out.
"The Board and those Deputies who voted for the partnership are naïve if they think they can persuade Oxfam GB to change its views because of this partnership.
If anything, this partnership will energise those who seek to demonise and delegitimise Israel.
As the Board’s co-ordinator for the ‘Stop the Co-op boycott of settlement goods’ for the north-west, how am I going to convince the Co-op to end their boycott when the Board has just aligned itself with the organisation that was the main lobbyist for labelling settlement goods?”As the report in the third of the links below indicates, the fall-out from the Board's decision is by no means over.
Read more here, here, and here