Labour Friends of Israel
|Motto||Working towards a two state solution|
|Purpose||Promotes support for a strong bilateral relationship between Britain and Israel|
Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is a group in the Parliament of the United Kingdom that promotes support for a strong bilateral relationship between Britain and Israel, and seeks to strengthen ties between the British Labour Party and the Israeli Labor Party. LFI says it supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, with Israel recognised and secure within its borders, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. As of April 2020[update], it comprises around one quarter of the Parliamentary Labour Party and one third of the Shadow Cabinet.
LFI was founded at the 1957 Labour Party Conference. Its membership is organised into local branches. Seeking to strengthen the bond between the Labour Party and the Israeli Labor Party, it organises meetings of senior figures in both the UK and Israel.
In 2003, LFI described itself as "a Westminster based lobby group working within the British Labour Party to promote the State of Israel". It has been described as "less unquestioning in its support of the Israeli government than the Conservative Friends of Israel". Between 2001 and 2009, LFI sponsored more than 60 MPs to visit Israel, more than any other group.
In 2011, LFI adopted a new strategy of becoming a wider membership organisation and of operating under the slogan "Working Towards a Two-State Solution".
In 2014, Adrian Cohen, a corporate lawyer, the chair of the London Jewish Forum, a trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council and a deputy of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was appointed Lay Chair.
With the ascent to the leadership of the Labour Party, in September 2015, of Jeremy Corbyn, who has a history of support for Palestinians, the relationship between the LFI and the party leadership became more complicated.
LFI had been depleted of Parliamentary supporters who had lost their seats at the 2015 general election. In 2016, LFI announced it had trebled its number of Parliamentary supporters, at a time when many moderate MPs rebelled against the leadership of the party, stating that 65 MPs had pledged to back the group. LFI re-branded itself as "Labour Friends of Israel: For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace", created a Young LFI group, and stated it would support the Alliance for Middle East Peace’s international fund.
In early 2017, Al Jazeera released a four-part documentary entitled The Lobby, which investigated aspects of the Israel lobby in the United Kingdom, particularly relating to the Labour Party. A member of Israeli embassy staff, Shai Masot, was recorded "plotting" to take down British MPs who favour recognition of a Palestinian state; links to the Labour Friends of Israel were put under the spotlight, including a reference to the availability of £1m from the Israeli government.
In March 2018, supporters of LFI, along with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, took part in a protest critical of the Corbyn leadership, stating that antisemitism was present in the Labour Party.
In February 2019, after having lost a vote of no confidence by her local constituency Labour Party, Joan Ryan resigned from the Labour Party to join the recently formed The Independent Group but retained her position as Chair of LFI. She became Honorary President in August 2019 and Dame Louise Ellman succeeded her as Parliamentary Chair. In October 2019, Ellman resigned from the Labour Party. Neither stood for reelection in the 2019 General election. However, despite resigning from the Labour Party, they remained members of LFI.
Parliamentary supporters of LFI
As of March 2020, the Officers, sitting MPs, Lords and former members who were supporters of LFI are set out below.
Labour (unless otherwise stated)
- Steve McCabe: Chair
- Sharon Hodgson
- Pat McFadden
- Rachel Reeves
- John Spellar
- Meta Ramsay, Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale
- Jonathan Reynolds
Labour (unless otherwise stated)
- Mike Amesbury
- Nick Brown
- Chris Bryant
- Liam Byrne
- Feryal Clark
- Rosie Cooper
- Yvette Cooper
- Jon Cruddas
- Wayne David
- Angela Eagle
- Maria Eagle
- Chris Elmore
- Chris Evans
- Barry Gardiner
- Preet Gill
- Mary Glindon
- Lilian Greenwood
- Nia Griffith
- Andrew Gwynne
- Fabian Hamilton
- Margaret Hodge
- George Howarth
- Dan Jarvis
- Diana Johnson
- Darren Jones
- Kevan Jones
- Mike Kane
- Liz Kendall
- Peter Kyle
- David Lammy
- Chris Matheson
- Conor McGinn
- Catherine McKinnell
- Stephen Morgan
- Toby Perkins
- Jess Phillips
- Bridget Phillipson
- Lucy Powell
- Virendra Sharma
- Barry Sheerman
- Jeff Smith
- Karin Smyth
- Wes Streeting
- Graham Stringer
- Gareth Thomas
- Emily Thornberry
- Karl Turner
- Derek Twigg
- Rosie Winterton
Labour (unless otherwise stated)
- Donald Anderson, Baron Anderson of Swansea
- Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top
- Jeremy Beecham, Baron Beecham
- Lord Blunkett
- Lord Boateng
- Lord Clarke of Hampstead
- Lord Collins of Highbury
- Baroness Crawley
- Lord Desai
- Lord Donoughue
- Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
- Baroness Gale
- Lord Grantchester
- Lord Hain
- Lord Harrison
- Lord Haskel
- Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
- Lord Hughes of Woodside
- Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
- Baroness Kennedy of Cradley
- Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead
- Lord Levy
- Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke
- Lord Livermore
- John Maxton
- Paul Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen
- Lord Rooker
- Lord Stone of Blackheath
- Lord Tomlinson
- Lord Touhig
- Lord Turnberg (Independent)
- Lord Watts
- Lord Winston
- Lord Wood of Anfield
- Lord Young of Norwood Green
- David Abrahams, former Treasurer
- Lord Archer of Sandwell
- Sir Stuart Bell
- Luciana Berger, former Director of LFI
- Tony Blair, former Prime Minister
- Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister
- Stephen Byers, former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
- Andrew Dismore
- Michael Dugher
- Derek Foster
- Anthony Greenwood, first Chair of LFI (1957)
- Baroness Hayman
- Joan Humble
- Barbara Keeley
- Jane Kennedy, Chair of LFI (2007)
- Ivan Lewis, former Vice-Chair of LFI
- Lord Macdonald of Tradeston
- Denis MacShane
- Michael McCann, Vice-Chair of LFI
- Anne McGuire, Chair of LFI (2013)
- Jonathan Mendelsohn, former Chair of LFI (2002)
- Alun Michael, former Leader of the Welsh Labour Party
- Andrew Miller
- Jim Murphy, former Chair of LFI (2001), former Secretary of State for Scotland
- Dan Norris
- Nick Palmer
- James Purnell, former Chair of LFI, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
- John Reid, former Home Secretary (2007)
- Terry Rooney
- Dari Taylor
- Gary Titley
- Glenis Willmott, Vice Chair of LFI
- Lord Winston
- John Woodcock
- Iain Wright, former Chair of LFI (2006)
- Lord Young of Norwood Green
- Conservative Friends of Israel
- European Friends of Israel
- Friends of Israel Initiative
- Israel lobby in the United Kingdom
- Israel lobby in the United States
- Jewish lobby
- Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East
- Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel
- Northern Ireland Friends of Israel
- Harpin, Lee (7 August 2019). "Dame Louise Ellman becomes new Labour Friends of Israel chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
- Oborne, Peter and Jones, James (16 November 2009). "Friends in high places". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Labour Friends of Israel (8 December 2008). "Labour Friends of Israel – 50 Years". Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2007.
- "Labour Friends Of Israel website – about us". 1 August 2003. Archived from the original on 1 August 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
- Black, Ian (16 November 2009). "Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
- Dysch, Marcus (7 September 2010). "New strategy for Labour Friends of Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Bright, Martin (13 January 2011). "Israel friends change tack and relaunch". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Dysch, Marcus (19 October 2011). "Labour Friends go to Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- "Stirling MP Anne McGuire to chair Labour Friends of Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Marcus Dysch (10 August 2015). "Don't vote for Jeremy Corbyn, urges new Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- Harpin, Lee (7 August 2019). "Dame Louise Ellman becomes new Labour Friends of Israel chair". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
- Rocker, Simon (19 June 2014). "Miliband warms the hearts of the Labour Friends". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- "Adrian Cohen". Jewish Leadership Council. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
- "U.K Labour Party pro-Israel Group Triples Support Ahead of Relaunch". Haaretz. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
- Dysch, Marcus (22 September 2016). "MPs flock to support Labour Israel group". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
- "The Lobby". Al Jazeera. January 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- MacAskill, Ewen (8 January 2017). "Israeli diplomat who plotted against MPs also set up political groups". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- Cohen, Justin (21 March 2017). "Labour dismiss complaint against Joan Ryan MP over Al Jazeera series". Jewish News. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- "Labour's Joan Ryan and Gavin Shuker lose no-confidence votes". BBC News. 7 September 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
- "MP Louise Ellman quits Labour Party". 16 October 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 18 October 2019.
- "Yigal Allon Educational Trust". Stone Ashdown Trust. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- Charity Commission. Yigal Allon Educational Trust, registered charity no. 327009.
- Symons, Leon; et al. "David Abrahams gave in secret 'to quell conspiracy fears'". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007.
- "Who We Are". Labour Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008.
- Bell, Stuart (30 January 2008). "Sir Stuart Bell MP, Biography". Archived from the original on 30 January 2008.
- Bartlett, David (5 February 2010). "Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson could run for parliament in Liverpool". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Uni, Assaf (10 December 2007). "Finance scandal has local community worried". Haaretz.
- Temko, Ned (2 December 2007). "Behind-the-scenes group's unerring knack of backing the right man". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712.
- Brown, Gordon (25 September 2007). "Speech by Gordon Brown to the LFI Annual Reception". Labour Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007.
- Wright, Oliver (10 October 2010). "Anger grows within Labour over forced Palestinian vote". The Independent. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
- H. M. Cabinet Office (2003). "Speaker Biographies, Ivan Lewis MP".
- Dysch, Marcus (25 February 2015). "Labour MP Michael McCann calls for total Hamas ban". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- Hope, Christopher (9 February 2007). "Jon Mendelsohn profile: a real Mr Fix-It". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
- Mulholland, Hélène (3 October 2008). "Government reshuffle: Profile: Jim Murphy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
- Purnell, James (12 December 2002). "Five days in Israel". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
- Kite, Melissa and Hennessy, Patrick (5 January 2005). "David Blunkett to return to the Cabinet in major reshuffle". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Dysch, Marcus (5 July 2011). "Labour Friends of Israel name new chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- Official website
- "General Election – 1 May 1997". Labour Friends of Israel. 1997. Archived from the original on 29 January 1999.
- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (2 November 2005). "United Kingdom and Israel Share the Same Democratic Values". Labour Friends of Israel event speech. Archived from the original on 28 December 2005.
- Blair, Tony (26 September 2006). "Speech by PM Tony Blair to LFI Annual Reception". Labour Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007.
- Speech by Gordon Brown to the LFI Annual Reception, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 25 September 2007