CFI’s biggest ever Annual Business Lunch attracted over 150 Conservative Parliamentarians and 600 Business people yesterday, including 13 members of the Cabinet and around 40 Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.
CFI were delighted to be joined by keynote speaker Prime Minister David Cameron, and H.E. Daniel Taub, Ambassador of Israel.
The Prime Minister received a standing ovation for his staunchly supportive speech, from the 750-strong audience.
In his speech, the Prime Minister underlined that he was a solid friend of Israel: “I’ve been a friend of Israel through thick and thin. I believe in Israel – and that belief is rock solid. It is an extraordinary nation – and even more extraordinary when you think where it is”.
Mr Cameron asserted that the Conservative Party “will always stand behind [Israel], the homeland of the Jewish people”.
The Prime Minister praised the work of CFI: “This amazing organisation, bigger today than I have ever seen it, works both ways. This group is a friend of the Conservatives. For the past 40 years, CFI has been there for this party, bringing us together, getting behind our candidates and taking people to Israel because nothing comes closer to helping you understand that country than actually visiting”.
The Prime Minister emphasised shared Jewish and Conservative values, including enterprise, responsibility, and openness.
The Cabinet members to attend included the Home Secretary Theresa May MP, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid MP, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP, and Chief Whip Michael Gove MP.
Extracts from Rt. Hon. David Cameron, the Prime Minister’s speech:
“This amazing organisation, bigger today than I have ever seen it, works both ways. This group is a friend of the Conservatives. For the past 40 years, CFI has been there for this party, bringing us together, getting behind our candidates and taking people to Israel because nothing comes closer to helping you understand that country than actually visiting”.
“I would like to thank the extraordinary, the indefatigable Stuart Polak who is celebrating a quarter century here at CFI”.
On supporting Israel:
“Israel is a vulnerable country and yet, against all odds, it has become an oasis of freedom where the call to prayer mingles with church bells, where Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, echo down narrow streets. And it’s a symbol of success supplying Britain with a sixth of our prescription medicines developing the processors that we all use in our laptops. And Israel is a country with more start-ups per capita than any other country in the world. What an incredible nation this is – and we are a true friend”.
“I’ve been a friend of Israel through thick and thin. I believe in Israel – and that belief is rock solid. It is an extraordinary nation – and even more extraordinary when you think where it is”.
“What an incredible nation this is – and we are a true friend”.
“This party will always stand behind [Israel], the homeland of the Jewish people”.
On Israel’s security threats:
“On its doorstep, the barbarism of ISIL, the tyranny of Assad, Hamas and Hezbollah a missile’s distance away, Iran looming nearby with nuclear ambitions, and terrorists all around, hell-bent on doing it harm like those last month who brutally murdered four rabbis as they prayed. One of those was a British Israeli, Rabbi Avraham Goldberg. Francis Maude and others here attended his shiva. And Rabbi Goldberg and the other victims will remain in our thoughts today”
“During the summer, Hamas rained down rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, and I agree with this, every word: “Israel uses missile defence to protect its civilians. Hamas uses civilians to protect its missiles. There can never be any equivalence between the two””.
“They’ve [Labour] now shown their true colours on Israel. Two months ago there was a vote in Parliament on whether to recognise the State of Palestine. For years in our country there has been cross-party consensus: We only recognise the State of Palestine when there is a genuine two-state solution – and Israel’s future is truly secure. Yet here was the Labour leader, on a vote put down by a couple of backbenchers, a vote he could easily have avoided or walked away from, not just breaking that consensus but actively whipping his own colleagues to support the motion. That is the Labour leader we are now faced with and he has to be defeated”.
“You see it in local Government. Look at what his local council colleagues are doing. Labour Leicester – promoting boycotts of Israeli goods, Labour Brent – supporting a theatre which has banned Jewish films”.
“Now true friends will always try to offer you good advice. This is why I will always tell Israel that illegal settlements are a bad idea. They don’t advance the likelihood of peace or security for Israel which I know its people pray for. They make that aspiration less likely. And when I went to Jerusalem earlier this year, my message to the Knesset was this: Yes, we will tell you when we think you are wrong but we will always defend your right to defend yourselves”.
“Unlike Labour, we in this party oppose boycotts. And let me remind you of what I said to the Knesset: “Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong, it is abhorrent – and together we will defeat it”.
“I’m proud of what we have done to combat anti-Semitism. In four years we have spent millions protecting Jewish schools from attack, we have excluded 152 hate preachers and others from our country, our hate crime legislation has been described as some of the strongest in the world. I know how important this is”.