01 May '11
My local Oxfam is one of several "charity shops" in town (in Australia they're known as "op [opportunity] shops" and in America "thrift shops").
It has the dubious distinction of being the smelliest of them, as well as the most expensive - it seems to think that just because a garment has a "Per Una" or "Monsoon" label (representing the "designer" end of High Street couture) it merits inflated prices, even though the garment's a decade out of date if not threadbare.
Over-charging is characteristic of Oxfam shops in general, I'm told, with some second-hand items actually costing more than their exact counterparts for sale new, although its bookstores have proved so reasonable in pricing that they've put many a struggling independent bookseller out of business.
I must confess that I've bought many a used book in this town's separate Oxfam bookstore, trying to block my ears to the leftist anti-American talk at the counter as I browse the shelves, and doing my utmost to convince myself that the looks of disapproval that greet volumes favourable to Israel when they're presented at the checkout are entirely figments of my imagination. Once, when I purchased a handsome atlas of the Bible, the two lefties behind the counter didn't bother to disguise their sniggers; I assume they mistook me for one of the Christian fundamentalists who were holding a convention in town.
I'm pleased to help poor farmers in Africa and India and other parts of the Third World get a better deal. I approve of Oxfam's "Fairtrade" policy, although doubts have apparently been cast on how it works in practice.
However, Oxfam has a very nasty track record regarding Israel:
http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article.php?id=1313 and http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article.php?viewall=yes&id=138 and http://philosemitism.blogspot.com/2008/11/gaza-will-oxfam-uk-also-make-appeal-to.html
And once again Oxfam has proved itself an inveterate foe of Israel, issuing this press release on 29 April:
'In order to improve the lives of Palestinians divided between Gaza and the West Bank it is imperative that the international community welcomes reconciliation and avoids adopting policies that would set unity efforts back, says international aid agency Oxfam.
“Over the past four years Oxfam and its local partners have seen ordinary people paying the highest price for the divide between Fatah and Hamas. The split has compounded the suffering of civilians in Gaza, already living under the Israeli blockade, leaving them with less access to essential services such as adequate electricity, clean water, and essential drugs,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs.
As Palestinian political factions are making strides towards an interim unity government, the aid agency calls on the international community to abandon the failed policy of non-engagement and begin dialogue with all the major Palestinian parties.
“Palestinian reconciliation is a crucial step towards achieving a just and durable solution to the conflict,” Hobbs added.'
Yes, I guess it's really time to ask myself: "Do I really want that Oxfam shlock?"
Since Oxfam, so taintedly politicised, is so out of touch with realities, perhaps Israel's supporters need to be out of touch with Oxfam.
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