Cameron broke that promise when he recently appointed Stuart Polak, a veteran lobbyist for Israel and the arms industry, to the House of Lords.
For the past quarter century, Polak has been a director with Conservative Friends of Israel, a pressure group inside the current ruling party. He has combined that post with running a consultancy firm that puts corporations in touch with lawmakers.
Rules applying to the House of Lords stipulate that its members will “declare all relevant interests in order to make clear what are the interests that might reasonably be thought to influence their parliamentary actions.” The rules add that “information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for doing so.”
Polak is not living up to these requirements. His entry in the Lords’ register states that he is a director of TWC Associates yet does not list that consultancy firm’s clients.
According to the website of TWC Associates (formerly The Westminster Connection), references for its clients are made available on request. Last week I contacted the firm asking for such references. I did not receive a reply.
That secrecy wouldn’t be so serious if Polak was planning to spend his time in the Lords focusing on a topic like wetlands conservation. Yet Polak has stated that he will use his new platform “to continue to advocate for Israel.”
The website of TWC Associates says that it represents clients in the defense sector — a euphemism for the weapons industry. Elbit Systems, a provider of drones to the Israeli military, has been among its clients, according to The Sunday Times.
Most, if not all, of the West’s large arms manufacturers have business connections to Israel. So there is no excuse for Polak to hide the identities of his clients. Each time he defends Israel, it should be emphasized that he has a vested interest in supporting that state.
Polak has been gloating about the effectiveness of his pro-Israel work. Earlier this month, he celebrated how Conservative Friends of Israel had moved from being “a reasonably active organization to one somewhat feared” in Westminster.
His role in TWC Associates is not the sole case of an overlap between his business and political pursuits. He is also named as a director of Cedars Oak, a firm providing the administration to a cross-party alliance for Israel in the Houses of Parliament.
In 2011, she claimed — in the present tense — that Hamas was using children for suicide bombings. After receiving a complaint, the BBC acknowledged that she should have been challenged when she made that claim on its current affairs program Newsnight. The BBC admitted that there was no record of anyone under 18 conducting a Hamas-linked suicide bombing since 2003.
Ellman has also described Israel’s use of extrajudicial executions as “legitimate” — despite how the tactic violates due process.
Polak’s pro-Israel activities are not confined to London. In 2006, he founded European Friends of Israel, a group headquartered in Brussels that has played an important role in integrating Israel into the EU’s single market for goods and services.
A seat in the Lords (a “peerage” in Westminster parlance) is the second honor that the British establishment has bestowed on Polak in as many years. In late 2014, it was announced that he would be given the title Commandant of the British Empire by the queen of England.
It is noteworthy that Polak and his chums in Conservative Friends of Israel had been busy cheerleading for Israel during its 51-day bombardment of Gaza earlier that year. Attending a recent CFI event, Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, said he was “proud” to have supported the 2014 offensive.
Israel killed more than 2,200 Palestinians during that attack. Of those, 551 were children.
People of conscience everywhere were horrified by Israel’s crimes. The UK government was proud to support the criminals.