Something is seriously wrong in British politics. Parliamentarians from every political party and none, most of whom are not Jewish, have joined a highly organised pro-Israel witch-hunt against Professor David Miller at the University of Bristol. Professor Miller is under attack for presenting evidence-based research on how parts of the Zionist movement fuel Islamophobia. How has this happened and why?
We can reveal that a substantial number of the parliamentarians hounding Professor Miller have a vested interest in shielding Israel and the Zionist movement from scrutiny. Many have: accepted thousands of pounds in donations from Israel lobby groups; associated with pro-Israel campaigns; and forged connections with Zionist groups.
This parliamentary campaign against Professor Miller began on 19 February 2021, when officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPGAA) wrote to the Bristol University Vice Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, accusing Professor Miller of ‘inciting hatred against Jewish students’ on campus.
On 4 March 2021, the APPGAA sent a second letter to Professor Brady, which was signed by more than a hundred parliamentarians, demanding that the university take action against Professor Miller. On the same day, Robert Halfon MP used his parliamentary privilege to attack Professor Miller, demanding ‘an urgent statement on antisemitism at Bristol university’ as well as an intervention from the Minister for Universities.
On 24 March 2021, a debate took place in the unelected House of Lords – from where almost half of the letter’s signatories originate – led by Ian Austin. He asserted that Professor Miller should not be employed to ‘teach wild conspiracy theories about Jewish people’, misrepresenting his respected scholarship.
We have taken a look at who exactly is leading this campaign and reveal that an Israel Gravy Train is at the heart of the attacks against Professor Miller.
Who are Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI)?
CFI and LFI are both pro-Israel lobby groups that exist to build parliamentary support for the State of Israel and Zionism, the colonial project to ethnically cleanse Palestine, replacing Palestinians with white European and other Jewish settlers. The impact of these groups is pernicious, securing the loyalty of UK MPs to Israel through all-expenses-paid visits, serving as go-betweens for the Israeli embassy and influencing debates and votes in both Houses of Parliament.
A former minister in David Cameron’s government wrote anonymously in The Mail on Sunday that ‘British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on’. The author singled out CFI and LFI for special mention as groups that ‘worked with – even for – the Israeli government and their London embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK Government policy and the actions of Ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights’. They identified that MPs from both of the main political parties were ‘working with the Israeli embassy which has used them to demonise and trash MPs who criticise Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament’.
In early 2021, another former Conservative minster, Sir Alan Duncan (who served as a Foreign Office minister under Theresa May), revealed how he was subject to ‘the most disgusting interference’ by pro-Israel lobbyists and groups, like CFI, when he was in government. In an interview with journalist Michael Crick about his memoirs, he said:
It’s a sort of buried scandal that has to stop […] they will interfere at a high level in British politics in the interests of Israel on the back of donor power in the UK. Most of the Jewish donors would never want their donations to be used to influence in this way – I just think it’s a mess.
How can we stop the Israel Gravy Train’s attacks on Professor Miller?
You should write to your MP (find your MP here) and local newspapers, and organise locally to hold your elected representatives to account, challenging them to stop engaging with CFI and LFI. The Israel Gravy Train thrives on people being unaware that it exists. It is time to lift the lid on its corrosive impact on British politics and on those who make our laws.
We all have a responsibility to apply pressure to our parliamentary representatives to stop their campaign against Professor Miller, which is being fuelled by misrepresentations. You can use the evidence we have compiled in our FAQs to take on these distortions of his comments.
AICE - Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange
APPGAA - All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism
CFI - Conservative Friends of Israel
GFCA - Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism
ICCA - Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism
LFI - Labour Friends of Israel
Conservative MP for Harlow
Robert Halfon has been accepting cash from pro-Israel sources since he first stood for Parliament at the 2010 election. One of his first cash donations was £2,500 from Chaim ‘Poju’ Zabludowicz, son of an Israeli arms dealer, who set up the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and had a share in a property in a suburb of Jerusalem defined as an illegal settlement under international law. The same sum was paid by Zabludowicz to Harlow Conservative Association during the 2010 election campaign, followed by £5,000 from one of his business interests, Tamares Real Estate Investments, in December 2014 and the same amount in Zabludowicz’s own name in January 2015. Donations to Harlow Conservative Association from pro-Israel sources since 2010 total £87,750. Records at the Electoral Commission show that Halfon visited Israel twice at the expense of CFI in May 2012 and February 2014.
The parliamentary register of members’ financial interests shows a further CFI-funded visit to Israel in May 2014. Since 2011 (excluding 2015), Halfon’s hotel costs at the Conservative Party conference have been covered by CFI. Halfon also received a £4,473.99 cash donation from CFI director David Meller in October 2016, towards the cost of an apprentice in his office, and six further cash donations to his Conservative Association from the same source (including £1,843.20 in legal costs).
Al Jazeera’s 2017 documentary, The Lobby, featured Halfon’s then chief of staff plotting with an Israeli government operative to ‘take down’ the then Foreign Office Minister, Sir Alan Duncan.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £115,847.18.
Former Labour MP for Dudley North
Ian Austin is the Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Israel. He is also an honorary patron of the pro-Israel Campaign Against Antisemitism. Between 2015 and 2019, Austin included LFI director, Jennifer Gerber, on his list of staff, and, in 2019, he employed Ella Rose (former employee of the Israeli Embassy, president of the Union of Jewish Students and director of the Jewish Labour Movement).
Records at the Electoral Commission show that, while he was an MP, Austin visited Israel twice, once as a guest of LFI and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March 2016 and once at the expense of the Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) in July 2018.
The parliamentary register of members’ financial interests reveals that the Israeli Knesset and Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage paid to extend the second of these trips. It also shows that Austin undertook two further trips to Israel, one funded by AICE in December 2015 and one covered by LFI and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 2017. In March 2017, LFI covered the cost of Austin’s attendance at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, at which he would speak in 2020.
In May 2019, the American Jewish Congress paid for Austin to visit Washington to talk about antisemitism in the UK. These visits were estimated to cost a combined total of £10,500. Austin also accepted generous cash donations from two pro-Israel donors, Sir David Garrard (£20,900) and Sir Trevor Chinn (£15,000 plus a further £2,500 to Austin’s Dudley North Constituency Labour Party).
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £58,900.00.
Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole
Andrew Percy is a vice chair of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). Records at the Electoral Commission show that Percy has visited Israel six times since May 2013 (funded by CFI, AICE and the Ubertas Group) and that he has been funded by CFI and the Antisemitism Policy Trust to visit the United States twice, to discuss Hizballah and to visit social media companies respectively. The Antisemitism Policy Trust also funds the APPGAA, with resources from two pro-Israel donors, Stephen Rubin and Trevor Pears.
The parliamentary register of members’ financial interests shows that Percy made a further five visits to Israel – one in February 2011 (funded by CFI), one in January 2012 (funded by AICE), one in April 2014 (funded by CFI), one in December 2015 (funded by AICE) and one in March 2018 (funded by the Antisemitism Policy Trust) to attend the sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism (GFCA). The GFCA formalised Israel’s use of ‘the new antisemitism’ strategy as a diplomatic weapon. The total cost of these 11 visits was £24,122.23, including a contribution from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Percy’s Brigg and Goole Conservative Association has also benefited from £13,000 of contributions from donors including Lord Fink, who opposes the boycott of Israel, and Mick Davis, former chair of United Jewish Israel Appeal, the UK’s main fundraising organisation for Israel. In October 2015, Percy signed a letter opposing the cultural boycott of Israel.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £37,442.23.
Former Labour MP for Bassetlaw
John Mann is the government’s ‘tsar’ on antisemitism and former chair of the APPGAA. He visited Israel in February 2008 at the expense of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism (forerunner to the Antisemitism Policy Trust) to attend the second GFCA. At that meeting, the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) was founded. In a keynote address, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated: ‘I would also like to take this opportunity to thank John Mann for volunteering to host the Global Forum next year’. This would suggest that the ICCA meeting which Mann organised the following year was seen in Israel as a continuation of the GFCA. At the expense of the ICCA, Mann visited Central America in August 2014 and Google headquarters in San Francisco in September 2014.
Mann returned to Israel in November 2009, to give a speech at the Balfour Dinner at the invitation of the Israel-Britain Commonwealth Association. Mann visited Israel again in May 2013, this time at the expense of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in London. Courtesy of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, Mann visited Berlin in January 2008 and March 2016, Washington DC in June 2016 and Israel and Qatar in January 2017. The same funder covered the salary of a researcher in Mann’s office to support the work of the APPGAA.
Mann returned to Israel in March 2018, at the expense of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, as part of an APPGAA delegation and to attend the sixth GFCA. The same donor flew him to the US in September 2018 to visit social media companies. The American Jewish Committee covered the cost of further trips to the US in May 2009, February 2018 and June 2019. The total declared cost of these visits was £27,815.92.
In addition to this, Mann’s Bassetlaw Constituency Labour Party received donations from two pro-Israel donors, Sir Trevor Chinn and Sir Trevor Pears, totalling £9,000.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £36,815.92.
Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire
Stephen Crabb is parliamentary chair of CFI for the House of Commons. According to the Electoral Commission, he has visited Israel six times at the expense of CFI, with contributions from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2017 and 2018. The total cost of these visits was £13,200. More than £2,000 of hotel costs at the Conservative Party conference were covered by CFI in 2018 and 2019, and Crabb accepted a £2,500 cash donation from CFI director, Stephen Massey.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £17,909.00.
Conservative MP for Hendon
Matthew Offord is an officer of CFI, a vice chair of the Britain–Israel APPG and signatory to a letter opposing the cultural boycott of Israel. Declared at the Electoral Commission are four visits to Israel. The first of these, in June 2010, was paid for by the Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 and described by noted Israeli historian Ilan Pappé as a ‘colonialist agency of ethnic cleansing’ in Palestine. The further three declared visits to Israel – in 2013, 2015 and 2018 – were undertaken at the expense of CFI, the latter in association with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £13,148.70.
Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke
Jack Lopresti has declared two visits to Israel at the Electoral Commission – one in July 2014 at the expense of the Ubertas Group, and one in July 2018 at the expense of AICE. However, close scrutiny of the parliamentary register of members’ financial interests shows a further four visits to Israel. One of these, in February 2011, was funded by CFI and ‘other hosts’. One in January 2012 was financed by AICE. One in April 2014 was covered by CFI, then AICE and CFI jointly funded a further trip in December 2015. The declared cost of these six visits was £9,971.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £9,971.00.
Conservative MP for Harrow East
Bob Blackman is an officer of CFI and chair of the Britain–Israel APPG. He has visited Israel three times, once at the expense of the Ubertas Group in July 2014 and twice as a guest of CFI in February 2011 and July 2015 at a total cost of £6,417. In April 2014, Blackman accepted a £3,000 cash donation from Lord Fink. In October 2015, both Blackman and Fink signed a letter opposing the cultural boycott of Israel.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £9,417.00.
Labour MP for Denton and Reddish
Andrew Gwynne is a former chair of LFI who remains a supporter. He has visited Israel four times as a guest of LFI. In 2007, 2008 and 2018, a contribution was received from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The total cost of these four visits was declared as £6,013.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £6,013.00.
Labour MP for Rhondda
Chris Bryant is a supporter of LFI. He has visited Israel three times – in June 2003, September 2006 and March 2016 – at the expense of LFI and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The cost of these combined trips was £4,635.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £4,635.00.
Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North
Diana Johnson is a vice chair of LFI. She has visited Israel twice at the expense of LFI in 2006 and 2016. The first of these trips benefited from a contribution from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The total cost of these two visits was declared as £3,305.93.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £3,305.93.
Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West
Sharon Hodgson is a vice chair of LFI. She has visited Israel twice at the expense of LFI. On both occasions, in 2008 and 2018, a contribution was received from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The total cost of these four visits was declared as £3,000.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £3,000.00.
Conservative MP for Romford
Andrew Rosindell took part in a CFI delegation to Israel in July 2019. He estimated this trip to have cost £2,580.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,580.00.
Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North
Jonathan Gullis was elected to Parliament in December 2019. He has declared to the Electoral Commission one visit to Israel, made in July 2019, when he was still a parliamentary candidate, estimated to cost £2,500.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,500.00.
Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
Tim Loughton joined a CFI delegation to Israel in July 2019 valued at £2,500.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,500.00.
Conservative MP for Bury South
Christian Wakeford is an officer of CFI. Elected to Parliament in December 2019, Wakeford is a vice chair of the Britain–Israel APPG. In February 2020, he declared a donation at the Electoral Commission for a CFI-funded trip to Israel, valued at £2,300.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,300.00.
Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland
Dehenna Davison was elected to Parliament in December 2019. She has declared to the Electoral Commission one visit to Israel, made in July 2019, when she was still a parliamentary candidate, estimated to cost £2,000.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,000.00.
Conservative MP for Cleethorpes
Martin Vickers visited Israel in 2013 at the expense to CFI of £2,000.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,000.00.
Conservative MP for High Peak
Robert Largan is an officer of CFI. Elected to Parliament in December 2019, he has only declared one visit at the Electoral Commission – to Israel, at the expense of CFI in July 2019, when he was still a parliamentary candidate. This visit was estimated to cost £2,000.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £2,000.00.
Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling
Tom Tugendhat has declared no trips to Israel at the Electoral Commission. However, scrutiny of the parliamentary register of members’ financial interests reveals that he visited Israel at the expense of the Academic Study Group (an Israel lobby group that pressures universities and academics) in 2015 at a cost of £1,660. John Levy of the Academic Study Group circulated an email soliciting signatures to a separate letter attacking Professor Miller.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £1,660.00.
Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South
Barbara Keeley is a former vice chair of LFI. The only donation Keeley has declared at the Electoral Commission is for a visit to Israel funded by LFI to the value of £1,425. Keeley also received a further contribution from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Total donations received from pro-Israel sources: £1,425.00.
This page contains the considered opinions of the Support David Miller campaign, informed through research that we have conducted. We welcome robust debate about all of the issues discussed on this page and expect that it will inspire critical conversations about the impact of the Zionist movement on freedom of expression and pro-Palestine activism in the United Kingdom.
All Photos: © UK Parliament