Pro-Israel groups may be involved in British scandal
In the U.K. Jewish interest groups have traditionally been subjected to much less examination than their U.S. counterparts; this may change if a link is confirmed to the scandal.
The scandal that led to the recent resignation of Britain’s high-powered defense minister has laid bare a seamy underside to the funding and influencing of politicians in the United Kingdom, and the donors of some of the country’s key pro-Israel groups appear to be near the center of the affair.
Liam Fox, who resigned his defense post October 14, has been forced to explain the nature of his relationship with Adam Werritty, a longtime personal friend, after it was revealed that Werritty had been traveling abroad while representing himself as an official emissary of the defense minister with Fox’s knowledge. Werritty’s travels included forays to
Iran, where he reportedly met with opposition activists, and to Israel, where he is said to have met with Israeli intelligence agents, including the director of the Mossad.
In the United States, the pro-Israel lobby is large and vocal, and wields considerable influence in the national body politic. It also operates fairly openly and has been subject to frequent scrutiny. But across the Atlantic, Jewish interest groups have traditionally operated far more quietly and have been subjected to much less examination.
The bright light now being shone on the Fox resignation may change that state of affairs. Fox officially quit his post because he allowed Werritty, his close friend, to pursue his own business interests at the heart of government without an official role. Werritty, who was also best man at Fox’s wedding, went into hiding amid lurid headlines about the exact nature of the relationship between the two men.
It was a clear breach of the ministerial code of conduct, and Fox, a Conservative Party right-winger who was once regarded as a leadership rival to Prime Minister David Cameron, had to go.
Now the focus has shifted to Pargav, the not-for-profit organization that Werritty set up to fund his travels on Fox’s behalf. Among its major donors is Mick Davis, chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Leadership Council and chairman of the United Jewish Israel Appeal. Davis, 52, is also chief executive of the mining company Xstrata, listed in the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange, with a market value of about $65 billion.