The NGO Shurat Hadin on Thursday sent a letter to Oxfam International threatening to sue in multiple countries if Oxfam does not end its relationships with two aid groups the NGO has identified as part of a terrorist group.
Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center wrote Oxfam’s international headquarters in England and its affiliates in the US, Australia and other countries shortly after a public falling out between actress Scarlett Johansson, then an Oxfam spokeswoman, and Oxfam over her appearing in a Super Bowl advertisement for SodaStream, which has a factory in the West Bank.
Johansson subsequently quit Oxfam.
The letter alleges that Oxfam “provides financial aid and additional forms of material support to the Union of Health Workers Committees (UHWC) and the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC), instrumentalities of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority.”
The PFLP has been associated with major terrorist attacks dating back to the 1972 Lod Airport massacre, the assassination of then-tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001, and – according to a report obtained by The Jerusalem Post from an expert on terrorism – rocket attacks during former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral and other recent attacks.
The letter notes that “Oxfam readily acknowledges it works very closely with these two Palestinian groups” – which it says were created and are subsidized by the PFLP – and “provides them financial support.”
“Your organization has described them as your ‘partners’ in the numerous press communications and reports you have published. Indeed, last month you signed a new agreement with the UHWC to provide it further financial support,” said Shurat Hadin.
Oxfam’s office in England said it had not yet received the letter, but referred the Post to a statement by Australia’s Foreign Ministry in May 2012 which rejected what appeared to be similar allegations by Shurat Hadin regarding the UAWC. The statement said that the UAWC was registered in Israel and not declared illegal in Israel, though the Post could not independently verify that claim.
The Australian statement also said that no offense was identified and named several European countries and Japanas supporting the UAWC.
Regarding Shurat Hadin’s evidence, the terrorism expert’s report gives numerous examples of alleged mixing of personnel and messages of incitement among the PFLP, UHWC and UAWC. For example, the expert says that Dr. Ahmed Maslamani served at the same time as the head of the PFLP and the UHWC in the West Bank, and that Bashir al Kheiry and Jamil Muhammad Ismail al-Majdalawi served at the same time or have served with both the UAWC and the PFLP.
He says that all of the above personnel were at one point imprisoned by Israel for PFLP activities, seeking to demonstrate that their PFLP activities were themselves criminal.
The report concludes that the evidence he assembled as an “initial” report “clearly” connects the PFLP and the UHWC and UAWC, while cautioning that the issue could be further researched.
Shurat Hadin said that “the UAHC is the PFLP’s health organization and UAWC is the PLFP’s agricultural organization and these entities are an agency or instrumentality of the PFLP.”
It alleged that Oxfam’s providing financial aid to the UAHC and the UAWC “directly or indirectly makes assets available to the PLFP.”
The letter notes that the EU has designated the PFLP as a terrorist organization and that, “Article 3 of the EU Common Position prohibits the making available of, directly or indirectly, funds, financial assets or economic resources or other related services to or for the benefit of the listed terrorist entities.”
Turning to US law, the letter says that the PFLP is officially designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization,” pursuant to section 219 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act and other legal provisions.
According to Shurat Hadin, under a 2010 US Supreme Court case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, “any assistance or support to designated terrorist groups, include putatively benign forms of assistance (such as agricultural aid) is criminal.”
Further, Shurat Hadin said that Australia has listed the PFLP as a terrorist organization under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, which makes it illegal “for an individual or corporation to directly or indirectly make an asset available to a proscribed person or entity.”
“While Oxfam accuses Israel of war crimes, they themselves have partnered and financially support a designated Palestinian terrorist organization. Any money given to a terrorist organization, including its instrumentalities, advances its ability to carry out murderous attacks,” Shurat Hadin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said.