The Lewis Trust Group, its donations to Conservative constituency parties, Think Tanks and Palestinian Media Watch
Donations to Conservative constituency parties made by the Lewis Trust Group were mentioned in a pamphlet which accompanied the Dispatches documentary, “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” broadcast on 16 November 2009 on Channel 4. The pamphlet mentions Conservative constituency parties who, in 2008 “received small donations to their constituencies from prominent CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) sponsors”. Most of the donations were given by just one sponsor, the Lewis Trust Group, whose donations totalled £23,500. All of these donations were declared, as can be seen by using the drop-down menus at the “Register of donations to political parties” webpage on the Electoral Commission`s website.
The other donations from the Lewis Trust Group are listed below
Lewis Trust Group: Donations to Conservative constituency parties
03.03.08 S Basildon & E Thurrock Stephen Metcalfe £3,500
06.03.08 Brighton Kemptown Simon Kirby £2,000
11.03.08 Hove Mike Weatherley £2,000
27.03.08 Cheltenham Mark Coote £2,000
27.03.08 Stroud Neil Carmichael £2,000
30.03.08 Burton Andrew Griffiths £2,000
05.04.08 West Worcestershire Harriet Baldwin £2,000
09.04.08 Staffordshire Moorlands Karen Bradley £2,000
10.04.08 Burton Andrew Griffiths £2,000
20.04.08 Stourbridge Margot James £2,000
23.09.08 Northampton North Michael Ellis £2,000
Who are the Lewis Trust Group?
The Lewis Trust Group, owned by one of Britain’s wealthiest families, is an investment company that operates retail stores, real estate, a wealth management company, and hotels. In the UK the company owns the River Island retail chain of 200+ stores. More details are available here
The most political member of the family, it seems, is David Lewis (CBE, FCA) who has been on the board of the Jewish National Fund
The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (which describes itself as an independent think tank) describes David Lewis as “One of the founders of BIPAC” (British Israel Public Affairs Committee) in their Winter 2000 newsletter . The name invites comparison with AIPAC (before which Barack Obama felt compelled to genuflect), although in contrast, BIPAC went bankrupt in 1999.
A brief history of BIPAC is given on this webpage (though there is no reference to David Lewis):
Lewis is currently President of UK Board of Governors of The Israel Center for Social & Economic Progress, ICSEP(www.icsep.org.il) This organisation describes itself as “an independent pro-market public policy think tank since 1984” and whose slogan is “Where there is no bread, there is no Torah”. ICSEP is run by Daniel Doron, who the website spinprofiles.org describes as a “former Israeli intelligence officer and Special Consultant to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv”
ICSEP lists five pages of praise it has received which include these quotes:
“Daniel Doron is helping me fight the historic battle that is now taking place over the future of Israel’s economy.” Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Israel
“Daniel [Doron] has always been a staunch advocate of free market reform. In the United States, such advocacy may not seem extraordinary, but in an Israeli society long dominated by socialist economic thinking, decades of unabashed support for free market reform makes Daniel a very rare breed.” Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Israel
“Your materials are riveting, to the point, and analyse correctly what has taken place… Indeed, a free economy and true democracy march hand in hand, and they shall also lead to true peace…” Shimon Peres, President, Israel
“The economic growth spurred by open markets is the engine to counter Islamist extremism. ICSEP is the beacon for the free market in the Middle East.” Mark Kenny, Rear Admiral, US Navy
Although the donations to Conservative Parliamentary candidates have been made directly from the The Lewis Trust Group, other donations to blatantly political entities like ICSEP and Palestinian Media Watch (see below) have been made in a more tax-efficient way through the LEWIS FAMILY CHARITABLE TRUST.
The Lewis Trust Group & Donations to The Israel Centre for Social & Economic Progress
The LEWIS FAMILY CHARITABLE TRUST which is almost entirely funded from the Lewis Trust Group, donates to the Israel Centre for Social & Economic Progress and thus allows tax-deductible donations from the corporate coffers to end up in a think tank whose policy prescriptions benefit corporations with interests in Israel – like the Lewis Trust Group!
Each TRUSTEES’ REPORT AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS has a section entitled “Transactions with trustees and connected persons” but nowhere is the fact that David Lewis is a “connected person” by virtue of being President of UK Board of Governors of ICSEP referred to.
The amounts donated are listed below.
The Lewis Trust Group & Donations to Palestinian Media Watch
To date two donations of £15,000 have been made in recent years to Palestinian Media Watch (previously at www.pmw.org.il (which now contains archived material) & now at www.palwatch.org). The most recent was mentioned in the Trustees’ Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 May 2008 under the heading “General Charitable Funding“.
LEWIS FAMILY CHARITABLE TRUST – YEAR ENDED 31 MAY 2007 – TRUSTEES’ REPORT AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT under “Educational Funding” another £15,000 was donated to Palestinian Media Watch.
Palestinian Media Watch
There is invaluable information on Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) on the Neocon Europe website from which the following is taken:
PMW (not to be confused with Palestine Media Watch (PMWATCH)) is an Israeli NGO founded by ‘counter terrorism analyst’ Itamar Marcus. The organisation’s website claims that “Palestinian Media Watch was established in 1996 to gain an understanding of Palestinian society through the monitoring of the Palestinian Arabic language media and schoolbooks. Palestinian Media Watch analyzes Palestinian Authority culture and society from numerous perspectives, including studies on summer camps, poetry, schoolbooks, religious ideology, crossword puzzles, and more.” The banner on PMW’s website, ‘A Self Portrait of Palestinian Society’ [emphasis added], appears to be a misnomer as it belies the organisation’s Israeli credentials.
Beyond the moderate rhetoric of its official remit of ‘gain[ing] an understanding’ and ‘analyz[ing]…culture and society from numerous perspectives’, PMW’s recent extra-curricular activities include alleging that Norwegian aid money is used to fund Palestinian childrens’ television programmes, the purpose of which, according to Marcus, ‘is to get hold of children while they are young and shape them in the way they [the Palestinian Authority/Fatah] want.’ Marcus continues, ‘No, it does not seem like Jonas Gahr Støre [Norwegian Foreign Minister] knows what he helps financing’ [sic].
While at the helm of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (1998-2000), Marcus was criticised by Ha’aretz journalist, Akiva Eldar, (‘What Did You Study In School Today, Palestinian Child?‘, Ha’aretz, 2 January, 2001 (This excellent article is a must-read) who reported that:
“In recent years Marcus has been making a living translating and disseminating defamatory communications against Israel, extracted by his staff from Palestinian publications. Marcus, a settler, used to work for David Bar Illan, Benjamin Netanyahu’s PR chief, and served on the Joint Israeli Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee. Marcus’s center routinely feeds the media with excerpts from “Palestinian” textbooks that call for Israel’s annihilation. He doesn’t bother to point out that the texts quoted in fact come from Egypt and Jordan.
Users of PMW materials
The right-wing Tory front-group the Taxpayers’ Alliance has helped to publicise the work of PMW. The text below is taken from a PMW web page, boasting about its achievements in the UK:
Making a Difference
Media uproar in Britain over funding of PA hate education
Jan. 31, 2008
In January 2008, PMW was instrumental in bringing about a media uproar in Britain. At PMW’s initiation, and with PMW supplying the documentation and participating in the writing, the British Taxpayers’ Alliance presented a report to the British Parliament showing how British aid to the Palestinian Authority had been spent to help fund Palestinian hate education against Jews and the West, including incitement to kill Jews and British troops.
The following are all headlines from British press articles responding to the report:
Daily Express main front page headline: “Our taxes pay for lessons in terror: Britain gives £47M to finance classes on suicide bombing.”
News of the World: “You pay £47M to fund terror. Aid used to promote murder of British troops.”
The Daily Telegraph: “Aid to Palestine ‘funds extremism’”
Daily Mail: “Taxpayers ’fund hate textbooks’”
The Press Association: “UK funds ‘used for indoctrination’”
Daily Express: “Stop terror cashing in”
The Jewish Chronicle: “Your tax money boosts terror’”
PMW has since continued to supply British MPs with the latest hate education summaries from the PA media. PMW has been in close contact with the parliamentary group Conservative Friends of Israel, and a follow up in parliament is being discussed.
In response to Toronto newspaper The Globe & Mail‘s ‘See Hamas for What It Is’ of 15 February, 2006, Samah Sabawi writes that:
“the Globe & Mail’s editorial relied on Palestinian Media Watch – a well-known right-wing propaganda site run by Itamar Marcus, an Israeli settler notorious for his jaundiced views of the Palestinians. In fact, much of the wording (the translation) printed in the editorial came directly from the PMW website. Thus, the Globe has relied entirely on a scurrilous anti-Palestinian screed without referencing that source; I believe the correct word for this is plagiarism.”