URGENT ALERT: Campaign against Oxfam agreement with Starbucks

URGENT ALERT: Campaign against Oxfam agreement with Starbucks

Islamic Human Rights Commission

28th October 2004

URGENT ALERT: Campaign against Oxfam agreement with Starbucks

Suggested Action

Innovative Minds (www.inminds.co.uk) and IHRC are calling on campaigners to contact Oxfam and protest their decision to collaborate with multinational coffee chain Starbucks.

This campaign is also supported by The Palestinian Return Centre (www.prc.org.uk), Friends of Al-Aqsa (www.aqsa.org.uk), Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (www.scottishpsc.org.uk) and the Muslim Association of Britain (www.mabonline.net).

In an agreement announced last week, Starbucks has agreed to contribute £100,000 to Oxfam\’s rural development programme in the East Hararge coffee growing region of Ethiopia. There are a number of critical concerns regarding this partnership, outlined below.

Please see the Innovative Minds page dedicated to this at:
or read on below.

1. Starbucks pro-Israeli stance. Please see the Innovative Minds webpage at:
URL: http://www.inminds.com/boycott-starbucks.html for more details. In summary. Starbucks’ chair Howard Schutltz is a pro-Israeli activist whose own activities include helping student projects in North America and Israel give presentations on the Israeli perspective of the intifada. Starbucks has sponsored the bowl4isreal event (see Innovative Minds webpage), and despite pulling its stores out of Israel has maintained that it will return in response to questions raised by the Zionist Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

We are of course concerned that a humanitarian organization is getting involved with a company that supports a country with such an abysmal human rights record.

2. Oxfam’s double standards in co-operating with Starbucks need to be brought to light. A couple of years ago Oxfam turned down a £5000 donation from Prof Honderich
because he defended Palestinians right to resort to violence to fight occupation. The reason Oxfam gave was quoted in the Guardian (9 Oct 2002):

”The charity said in a statement: \”The decision to decline Prof Honderich\’s donation was taken for one reason alone, that Oxfam cannot accept, endorse or benefit from certain opinions given in the book. Oxfam\’s purpose is to overcome poverty and suffering. We believe that the lives of all human beings are of equal value. We do not endorse acts of violence… No other facts were considered in taking the decision.\”

Jewish Chronicle (18 Oct 20002):
”An Oxfam spokeswoman told the JC: ‘We said: No thank you,’ because you condone acts of terrorism and we can’t accept donations from someone taking that standpoint.

‘Oxfam spokes-woman maintained: ”We can’t condone violence in any form.” She added that the charity would doubtless have been criticised had it accepted the money.”

At the time Bob Cartridge, head of campaigns for War on Want, when asked about this opinion said:

\”It is absolutely legitimate to question the sources of donations particularly when they are associated with business or (in this case) a business deal. Accepting a donation implies a degree of endorsement. But in this case I suspect Oxfam has reacted to a vocal pro-Israeli minority and concerns about potential damage to its future fundraising. All NGOs working in Palestine are well aware of this lobby, which complains on a daily basis about any support given to the opposition.\”

Full articles and more information on it is available at:


3. The Oxfam – Starbucks agreement is being heavily criticized by campaigners for Fair Trade. According to the Organic Consumers’ Association a similar agreement between Oxfam America and Starbucks was an exercise in ‘greenwashing’ i.e. Starbucks getting endorsement from a humanitarian organization in return for a minimal donation towards a project that helped its image. For an analysis of the discrepancy between the image and the reality please visit:


B. Suggested Action

IHRC is calling on all campaigners to write to Oxfam asking them to protest Oxfam’s decision to enter and agreement with a pro-Israeli multinational given that they previously rejected a donation from a pro-Palestinian donor on the basis that Oxfam should not be seen to “condone violence in any form…” and that by accepting it Oxfam “would doubtless have been criticised had it accepted the money.”

IHRC also requests campaigners to raise the issue of greenwashing with Oxfam whose credentials as a promoter of Fair Trade are surely undermined by such an agreement.

Donors to Oxfam may consider these issues before making future donations, and consider charities less prone to political manipulation and lobbying.

Barbara Stocking
Oxfam House
274 Banbury Road

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\”And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.\”

Holy Qur\’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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