Conservative Friends of Israel at UK Political Conference

The Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a British parliamentary lobby made up of Conservative party MPs, is hosting three events and running a booth at the Conservative party conference.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz , | updated: 8:31 PM

Among those attending CFI events this week at the Conservative party conference in Bournemouth are MPs Dr. Liam Fox, Sir John Butterfill, Tobias Ellwood and parliamentary chairman of the CFI, MP James Arbuthnot. Tzvi Heifetz, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, and Shmuel Ben-Tovim of the embassy's economic desk were there as well.

The CFI will be hosting a private lunch for senior members of the Tory party, a larger reception for all the delegates to the conference and a special event for the Jewish community of Bournemouth.

The CFI booth promoting Israel at the conference has been operating since the conference's opening on Sunday and will continue through Wednesday, the concluding day of the Conservative party event. During the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, from Sunday night through Monday night, Christian pro-Israel activists took over manning the CFI booth. In addition to allowing delegates the opportunity to learn more about Israel, the CFI informational stand also boasted some of the latest wines from the Israeli Yarden vineyards, which sponsored the booth this year.

CFI, whose primary objectives are defined as "supporting Israel and promoting [political] conservatism," also sponsors parliamentary delegations to Israel as an integral part of its efforts. The next CFI delegation is due in Israel in November of this year. On the trips, British MPs are introduced to Israeli politicians and officials for comprehensive briefings. Delegates also tour Israel to gain a greater understanding of the facts on the ground.

CFI also has Labour and Liberal Democrat party sister organizations. The Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), is considered one of the most prestigious sub-groups in that party. Touting its links to Israel in campaign literature ahead of the last parliamentary elections, the UK Labour party boasted, "More Labour MPs have visited Israel than from any other party." In September of 2005, an LFI delegation visited the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem's Old City.