| Stuart Polak |
|Born||28 March 1961|
Has done more than most to promote Israel’s case to the right of British politics
Stuart Polak was born in Liverpool, England. He attended the Childwall Hebrew Congregation, a synagogue in Liverpool, where he was a chazan, or cantor, on Jewish High Holidays. He took educational trips to Israel from the age of fifteen.
Polak joined the Conservative Friends of Israel in 1989. He was its Director for twenty-six years, until August 2015; he now serves as its honorary president. He also serves as chairman of TWC Associates and as a senior consultant to Jardine Lloyd Thompson.
Polak was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for political service in the 2015 New Year Honours. He was created a life peer taking the title Baron Polak, of Hertsmere in the County of Hertfordshire on 2 October 2015.
Conservative Friends of Israel
Polak has been the director of Conservative Friends of Israel since 1989 and is partner in two Westminster based lobbying firms - The Westminster Connection (TWS) and Kesher Strategy, as a result of which he is known as an 'effective behind-the-scenes lobbyist.'He is listed in the Telegraph's "The Right's 100 Most Influential" in 2007 and the "Top 100 most influential Right-wingers" 2010, as well as the Jewish Chronicle's "Power 100" in 2008,
According to Polak's Telegraph profile:
- Polak regularly takes leading Conservatives on trips to Israel to educate them. The sceptics invariably return, if not indoctrinated, fully onside. A familiar face around the corridors of the Houses of Parliament, he has done more than most to promote Israel’s case to the right of British politics.
In October 2015, Polak signed a letter in The Guardian along with more than 150 people drawn from the arts and politics. The letter launched Culture for Coexistence, an organisation that opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
'General's for hire' allegations
The Sunday Times reported on Polak's double role as a lobbyist and head of Conservative Friends of Israel in October 2012:
- The two roles of Stuart Polak, director of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), have emerged as a result of this newspaper’s exposé last Sunday of “generals for hire”. He denies any impropriety. As well as heading CFI, a significant party donor, Polak is a key figure in The Westminster Connection (TWC), a political consultancy. Clients of TWC include Elbit Systems, Israel’s defence electronics giant. Retired Lieutenant General Richard Applegate, Elbit’s British chairman, boasted of his own and TWC’s role in lobbying MPs on behalf of Elbit when he was secretly taped for last week’s report. He claimed that the consultancy could gain access “from the prime minister down”. Applegate was seeking an increase in British spending on helicopter safety, one of Elbit's specialisms.
Resignation of Priti Patel
On 3 November 2017, the BBC's Diplomatic correspondent James Landale reported that Polak had accompanied Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for International Development when she had held a series of meetings in Israel in August 2017 without telling the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They met Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel's centrist Yesh Atid party, and visited several organisations where official departmental business was discussed. Those meetings, and others later, led to Patel's resignation from the Cabinet on 8 November 2017.
- Conservative Friends of Israel - Director, (1989 - )
- Kesher Strategy - Partner
- The Westminster Connection - Partner
- Jardine Lloyd Thompson, Insurance Brokers - Senior consultant
- Ladbrokes plc - consultant
- Marsh MacLennan - consultant
- Rotch Property Group - consultant
- Jewish Chronicle, "The JC Power 100: Numbers 81 - 90", Jewish Chronicle, 5 September 2008, accessed on 16 December 2010
- Telegraph, "The Right's 100 Most Influential: 50-26", Telegraph, 2 October 2007
- Telegraph, "Top 100 most influential Right-wingers: 100-76", Telegraph, 3 October 2010
- Kesher Strategy LLP, ben-tovim.com, accessed 14 October 2012.
- Harriet Sherwood, 'Star authors call for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue rather than boycotts', The Guardian, 22 October 2015, accessed 23 October 2015
- Insight Double role of a top Tory lobbyist: The head of Conservative Friends of Israel also represents an arms firm Sunday Times, 21 October 2012 accessed 28 October 2012
- CFI, "About CFI", Conservative Friends of Israel, accessed on 15 December 2010