Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oxfam Gored

This is a letter that Oxfam is distributing in the name of Mark Goldring in connection with Scarlett Johannsen

Dear ,
Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years as a Global Ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions.
While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador.
Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.
Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. Ms. Johansson has worked with Oxfam since 2005 and in 2007 became a Global Ambassador, helping to highlight the impact of natural disasters and raise funds to save lives and fight poverty.
Best wishes,

Mark GoldringChief Executive
Oxfam GBOxfam HouseJohn Smith DriveOxford, OX4 2JYUnited KingdomPhone: +44 (0) 1865 

Here's one reply:

Dear  Mr Goldring Scarlett Johansson’s integrity has shone through this whole saga.   It was she who noticed that her support for the Palestinians was incompatible with the hypocritical stance being taken by Oxfam and chose to end her role at Oxfam after Oxfam expressed their disagreement with the way that she supports Palestinians. If Oxfam believes that Sodastream “further(s) the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities” then Oxfam doesn’t know what is happening in the West Bank.  SodaStream employs 500 Palestinians with wages far above what they could otherwise expect, and their factory brings further business to local Palestinian enterprises.  Businesses in the settlements typically pay Palestinians more than twice the average pay in the West Bank, but Sodastream pays considerably more than that, and the 500 Palestinian employees are very glad to have such good jobs.  There is no denial of Palestinian rights in these communities.  They have far more rights freedom there than they have in the areas under the control of Hamas or the  Palestine Authority and for that matter far more rights than in most of the Middle East.  Such restrictions that they do suffer are a consequence of Palestinian terrorism aimed at killing Israelis civilians.   Israel wants a peaceful two state solution and always has done.  When the political leadership of the Palestinians want an Arab state and a Jewish living beside each other in peace in what was British Mandate Palestine, then it shall happen.  There is no reason why Jewish communities should not live in the Arab state (as they lived in the West Bank until 1948), just as Arab communities live in Israel. The settlements are not illegal and there are many reasons why that is the case, but I gave one of them in my original letter (below).     Oxfam does great work in other countries and it is a shame that they let their politics interfere with genuine support for poor Palestinians. Yours sincerely,

The addition:

The statement that the settlements are illegal under international law is a matter of opinion.  The only source for such a claim is the part of the Geneva Convention that forbids a state to deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory that it occupies.  None of the settlers were deported or transferred.  They all went because they chose to.  That particular part of the Geneva Convention (as the ICRC confirmed in 1949) was written because of what the Nazis did during WW2.   My paternal family originally came from Breslau in what was then Germany. That part of the family that remained there were rounded up during the war and detained in a purpose built local detention centre.   From there they were transferred to Theresienstadt in German occupied Czechoslovakia before being transferred again to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. That type of forced transfer is what that law was intended to prevent. 


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