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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Oxfam covers for Miftah's doubletalk

So far, most of the NGOs that fund Miftah have been silent during the blood-libel controversy I discovered.

Oxfam, however, just responded to a couple of my readers' inquiries (and then to mine) with a canned response which illustrates a troubling downplaying of the issue:

Thank you for making us aware that a blog post published on the website of one of our partners, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), included reprehensible anti-Semitic statements.

MIFTAH has removed the offensive blog post and issued a public apology on its website. MIFTAH has assured Oxfam that the individual behind the post has been reprimanded. Oxfam Is clearly on record as opposing the use of language or acting in ways which promote hate or discrimination.

Oxfam has worked with MIFTAH since 2010. Currently, MIFTAH and three other partners are implementing Oxfam’s regional project Supporting Women’s Transformative Leadership in Changing Times. The project targets marginalized women and men to support women’s rights and gender justice with the goal of increased empowerment, self-confidence, and leadership roles for women in public and private spheres.
Oxfam is surely aware that the section of Miftah's site where the offensive article was published was not a "blog" but an essay section where they republish articles they think are interesting for their readers. They even index the section so their readers can read other articles from the same author, and Nawaf al-Zaru has been featured five times.

Oxfam should also be aware that the "apology" was not issued in Arabic, the language of the hateful essay, meaning that Arabic-language readers of Miftah have no idea what Miftah's opinion on the medieval blood libel is, and for all they know Miftah supports that heinous lie.

Moreover, Oxfam must also be aware that Miftah did not issue its English apology until it felt under pressure to do so.

Finally, this response did not even address one of the writer's points about Miftah, that they have praised suicide bombers.  And not in their "essay" section, either, but under their own name. (NOTE: Since that essay was discovered and publicized, Miftah has also silently removed that essay - but you can still find it archived at the UN!)

Clearly, Oxfam wants to find excuses for Miftah instead of holding it to a standard that it would hold any Western NGO.