'Naive' pro-PM letter dropped

By Marcus Dysch, August 14, 2014

Communal leaders scrapped a show of support for David Cameron's Israel policy amid fears they would fuel accusations that Jewish donors were influencing government policy.

A letter signed by around two dozen influential figures was due to be published in The Times on Monday.

Lord Kalms, Vivian Wineman, Leo Noe and other JLC members are believed to have been among the signatories.

The idea is said to have been initiated by Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps. But it was withdrawn by JLC chairman Mick Davis after fears that it would reinforce comments by Baroness Warsi that ministers were being influenced by pro-Israel groups.

Having resigned from the government over its position on Gaza, she told the Sunday Times: "I congratulate the friends of Israel and those who lobby on behalf of Israel because they are incredibly effective. I sincerely hope that how the Tory party raises its funds does not have an impact in relation to its policy in government. The national interest should never be subject to the chequebooks of anybody."

The round robin letter had focused on Gaza and the domestic challenges posed by Islamist terrorism.

It concluded with praise for Mr Cameron: "He has made clear his opposition to the tactics of terrorism, and he has recognised the rights of democracies to defend their citizens under fire.

"He has done so publicly and unstintingly. He has shown true leadership as befits his office and our nation."

One senior community figure said the letter "was very naïve and misguided and I am very pleased they had second thoughts. It would add fuel to the fire for those who think the government is influenced by Jewish donors."

Mr Wineman, the president of the Board of Deputies, wrote privately to Mr Cameron last month to thank him for his stand on Israel.

Last updated: 1:19pm, August 14 2014