Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Conservative Friends of Israel (The British parliamentary group)

Conservative Friends of Israel, abbreviated to CFI, is a British parliamentary group affiliated to the Conservative Party and dedicated to strengthening business, cultural and political ties between the United Kingdom and Israel. CFI is an unincorporated association.
It was founded by the late Conservative MP for Bury and Radcliffe, Michael Fidler.
According to the Channel 4 documentary "Dispatches – Inside Britain's Israel Lobby" around 80% of Conservative MPs are members of the CFI.
The group's 2005 strategy identified the following areas of activity: supporting Israel, promoting the British Conservative Party, fighting terrorism, combating anti-semitism, and promoting peace in the Middle East. According to their website, "over two thirds" of Conservative MPs were members of Conservative Friends of Israel in 2006. In 2009, at least half of the shadow cabinet were members of the group according to a Dispatches documentary.
Their website states the opinion that it is one of the fastest growing political lobby groups in the UK.According to the Dispatches show, between 2006 and 2009, the CFI funded more than 30 Conservative parliamentary candidates to visit Israel.
David Cameron, then newly elected leader of the Conservative Party, addressed the CFI annual business lunch on 30 January 2006, whose audience included half of the Conservative Parliamentary Party. As part of his speech, he stated "I am proud not just to be a Conservative, but a Conservative friend of Israel; and I am proud of the key role CFI plays within our Party. Israel is a democracy, a strong and proud democracy, in a region that is, we hope, making its first steps in that direction."
Former Conservative party leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard have also addressed the CFI lunch.
The Dispatches documentary claimed members of the group and their companies have donated over £10 million to the Conservative party between 2001 and 2009. The group called this figure "deeply flawed" saying that they have only donated £30,000 between 2004 and 2009 but that members of the group have undoubtedly made their own donations to the party.Dispatches described the CFI as "beyond doubt the most well-connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups".
In alphabetical order, members of Conservative Friends of Israel include:
    James Arbuthnot MP
    Graham Brady MP
    Alistair Burt MP
    James Clappison MP,
    Iain Duncan-Smith MP
    Liam Fox MP
    Mike Freer MP
    William Hague MP
    Robert Halfon MP
    Richard Harrington MP
    Lord Stanley Kalms
    Malcolm Rifkind MP

 a b Dispatches: Inside Britain's Israel Lobby, Channel 4, Monday 16 November 2009
 CFI INFORMED Magazine, Second Edition, Conservative Friends of Israel, February 2007, p. 3, archived from the original on 29 May 2008, retrieved 29 May 2008
 Conservative Friends of Israel – About Us
 a b c Black, Ian (16 November 2009). "Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 November 2009.
 Conservative Friends of Israel web site
 CFI INFORMED Weekly Briefing, Conservative Friends of Israel, 3 February 2006, archived from the original on 25 May 2006, retrieved 25 May 2006
 Duncan Smith: Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorists, Conservatives.com, 10 December 2001
 "Howard Speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel, at the Savoy Hotel, London". Conservatives.com. 6 December 2004. Archived from the original on 12 December 2004.
 "Ministers "will change" war crimes arrest law". Jewish Chronicle. 8 July 2010.
 "Altrincham and Sale West: Election 2010". Jewish Chronicle. 29 April 2010.
 "British MPs furious after Israel President Shimon Peres accuses the English of being anti-semiticRead". Daily Mail (UK). 1 August 2010.
 a b "Cameron's Cabinet: Who are they?". Retrieved 15 May 2011.
 "Mike's Biography". Retrieved 15 May 2011.
 "William Hague's Schmooze With The Jewish News". Totally Jewish. 25 March 2010.
 a b "Ministers lose seats in the East". East Anglia Daily Times. 7 May 2010.
 Black, Ian (16 November 2009). "Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims". The Guardian (London).
 "Rifkind elected as Kensington MP". Jewish Chronicle. 7 May 2010.

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