Michael Abraham Levy, Baron Levy
(born 11 July 1944)
is a Labour member of the British House of Lords.
Born in Hackney, East
London, to immigrant parents of modest means, Levy was educated at Hackney Downs Grammar School, making his fortune during the
1960s and 1970s as an impresario, managing singers such as Alvin Stardust and Chris Rea.
He founded Magnet Records, which gave the public the
popular 1970s/80s ska band Bad Manners.
A resident of Mill Hill and close friend
and tennis partner of Tony Blair,
Levy ran the Labour Leader's Office Fund
to finance Blair's campaign before the 1997 General Election and received substantial
contributions from such figures as Alex Bernstein and Robert Gavron, both of whom were ennobled by Blair after he
came to power. Levy himself was made a life peer in 1997 as
Baron Levy, of Mill Hill in the London Borough of
He is a supporter of Labour
Friends of Israel and has been described by The
Jerusalem Post as "undoubtedly the notional leader of British Jewry".  Since 2002, he has acted as the Prime Minister's personal envoy to the Middle East. Sir Christopher
Meyer, former British Ambassador to Washington, has said that that the Saudi and Jordanian royal
families told him Levy was "not terribly welcome in their countries; and that he was
received only out of friendship for Tony Blair." He was also criticised in Sir
Christopher's memoirs for his pretensions and over-playing his expectations (e.g. of
meetings with high-level US Administration officials).
Lord Levy undertook both visits in his capacity as the Prime Minister's
envoy. On 23 January 2003, Lord Levy met Yasser Abed Rabbo, Nabil Qassis, Sa'eb Erekat and
Akram Haniyeh (in their respective roles as Chairman of the Ministerial Reform Committee,
Ministerial Reform Committee Co-ordinator, Chief Negotiator and adviser to Yasser Arafat)
Lord Levy met Richard Armitage (Deputy Secretary, State
Department) and Elliott Abrams (Senior Director,
National Security Council) in Washington on 19 February 2003.
He was appointed President of The Council of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust
in September 2005.
Fundraising for Labour
Known as "Lord Cashpoint" to some in the media and politics,
he is a leading fundraiser for the Labour Party and was central to the "Cash for Peerages" controversy of March 2006, in
which it was revealed that the Labour party had raised £14 million in loans from private
individuals. Unlike political donations, loans do not have to be declared. He has
suggested that he will stop his fundraising activities when Blair leaves office and is now
believed to advocate the state funding of political parties.
In 1997, Levy secured a £1m donation to Labour from Formula One supremo Bernie
Ecclestone. When the government changed its policy to allow Formula One to continue
being sponsored by tobacco manufacturers, the Labour Party
returned the donation.
In 2000, Levy was criticised when it was revealed that he had paid only
£5,000 tax during the financial year 199899equivalent to that paid on a
salary of £21,000. In an interview at the time, repeated on BBC2's
Newsnight on 16 March
2006, Levy stated that "Over the years I have paid many millions of tax. And, if you
average it, each year it comes to many hundreds of thousands of pounds. In that particular
year, I was giving my time to the Labour Party and the voluntary sector, and I just lived
off of capital."
Michael Levy is a pre-eminent fundraiser for charity. Simon Morris,
director of Jewish Care, is quoted as saying that when it
comes to fundraising, "there's no one better in the country."
Labour Friends of Israel
Labour Friends of Israel is a UK Parliament based campaign group promoting support
throughout the British Labour Party for a two-state
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israel
recognised and secure within its borders and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.
Founded in 1956, it has developed into one of the largest interest
groups in the Labour Party, drawing wide support from Members of Parliament and Government Ministers. It
seeks to strengthen the bond between the British Labour Party and the Israeli Labor Party, organising
meetings in both the UK and Israel between senior figures.
In 2005 its Chair was David Cairns MP and President was Rt Hon Gwyneth Dunwoody MP.
Vice Chairs were Mike Gapes MP, Andrew Dismore MP, Louise
Ellman MP and Meg Munn MP. Members of the Labour Friends
of Israel Policy Council were Rt Hon Stephen Byers MP,
Rt Hon Derek Foster MP, Rt Hon George Foulkes MP, Barbara Roche MP and Lord Macdonald of Tradeston. House of Lords Chair was Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale.
Labour Friends of Israel
Labour Friends of Israel
UK FOREIGN SECRETARY JACK STRAW & ISRAEL:
'UNITED KINGDOM AND ISRAEL SHARE THE SAME DEMOCRATIC VALUES'
JACK STRAW (02/11/05)
Event: Labour Friends of Israel
Speech Date: 02/11/05
Speaker: Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw
Edited transcript of speech given by Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
Your Excellency, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen
In nearly six decades, Israel has achieved an astonishing amount. It has built a thriving
democracy in a region historically dominated by autocratic regimes. And, as a leading
global competitor in areas such as medicine, scientific research, and information
technology, it now has one of the most advanced economies in the world. These are things
for which the people of Israel and the wider Jewish community are rightly proud. Today the
United Kingdom and Israel share the same democratic values and we enjoy practical
collaboration in many areas.
Sadly there is something else we share with Israel. When, in July, I met Foreign Minister
Shalom, I made the point that over a 30-year period we in Britain had become all too
accustomed to the terrorist atrocities of the Irish Republican Army. But until the
horrific attacks on 7 July, the British public had not lived with the danger of murderers
prepared to take their own lives and determined to kill as many innocent people as
possible. On that day we better understood the anxiety which Israelis have felt every day
for years as they simply go about what is their daily business and travel on the bus or
eat in a café.
So the United Kingdom, as Presidency of the European Union, strongly condemned last week's
appalling attack against people shopping in a market in the town of Hadera. Let us be
clear, there can be no justification whatsoever for terrorism. The terrorists offer no
real solutions. Indeed, confronted by signs of progress and hope, the terrorist wills an
endless cycle of violence and revenge. And in claiming to represent Islam, they insult the
overwhelming majority of Muslims who abhor and detest such violence and vociferously
reject this misinterpretation of their faith.
Last Wednesday, we saw the horrible reality of the sort of acts which President
Ahmadinejad of Iran has recently chosen to praise. His comments were profoundly disturbing
and his stated desire of wiping Israel from the map only heightens our concerns about
Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Prime Minster Tony Blair, together with the European Union
leaders at Hampton Court condemned this threat against Israel in the strongest terms,
making clear that it was inconsistent with Iran claiming to be a mature and responsible
member of the international community.
And President Ahmedinjad's stance is not one which the Palestinians themselves support.
The senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat made very clear that President Ahmedinejad
would better help the Palestinian people by focusing on putting Palestine on the map
rather than calling for Israel to be wiped off it.
The bloodshed last week threatens to put back recent progress in the region. But since
Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas met at Sharm el-Sheikh in February, the level of
violence between Israel and the Palestinians has fallen substantially. After five long
years of unrest, destruction and mistrust, hopes for peace are now again possible.
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank was particularly
significant. It was a clear movement in the direction of the shared goal of a state of
Palestine living alongside a state of Israel in peace and security. It offers the
Palestinians the opportunity to govern themselves, to manage their own security and to
prove to the world that they can lay the foundations of their own viable state.
It was a difficult step for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his government to take. The
highly emotional scenes of settlers being removed from their homes were powerful evidence
of the strain which disengagement put on Israeli society. The Israeli government showed
huge courage and perseverance. The relatively smooth process by which this withdrawal was
completed was also in part a result of effective co-ordination with the Palestinians.
The United Kingdom is proud to have played a leading role in ensuring the international
community's consistent support for the policy of disengagement. This must provide the
platform for the creation of two viable states respecting each other's right to a secure
existence and dynamic economic development. I have visited the region over the past few
months to lend our support to disengagement and to give both sides our help and
encouragement. Our hope is that the withdrawal will create the much needed momentum for a
return to the Roadmap. We welcome that fact that both Prime Minister Sharon and President
Abbas have committed themselves to the Roadmap and expressed their determination to move
toward a negotiated settlement.
So there are hopeful signs of improvement in relations between Israelis and Palestinians;
and of real progress towards that goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by
side in peace and harmony.
There are other hopeful signs too not least from the gradual but seminal shift
towards representative government and democratic elections in the Middle East. At the end
of next week, I will be going to Bahrain to attend the Forum for the Future meeting
part of the G8 Broader Middle East initiative. At this event leaders from the G8 and from
the region will discuss topics such as women's rights, corruption and human rights which,
until a few years ago were, frankly, taboo. And more than that, it will be an event in
which civil society will, for the first time in the region, participate on an equal
footing with governments.
But these remarkable shifts in attitude by Arab states throw into sharper relief the
baleful, harmful influence of two states who are in a mind-set which allows them to
believe that the clock can be turned back to before 1967, if not before 1948. These two
states are Iran and Syria.
I've already mentioned the world-wide condemnation of President Ahmedinejad's comments
last week. What is striking is how many erstwhile supporters of Iran are now deeply
worried about the direction in which the country is going. The Russian Foreign Minister,
Sergei Lavrov, called President Ahmedinejad's threats against Israel 'unacceptable' and
added that they had 'given additional arguments' to those wanting to pass Iran's nuclear
dossier to the United Nations Security Council.
As for Syria, this week the Security Council passed unanimously one of its
toughest ever Chapter Seven resolutions. This resolution 1636 states that
Syria must not interfere in Lebanese domestic affairs and that it must co-operate fully
with the investigation into the killing of Rafik Hariri. This includes detaining those
Syrian officials or individuals whom the United Nations Commission suspects of organising
his assassination. If Syria doesnt co-operate, the resolution makes clear that the
Security Council could consider further action. Syria's grudging and evasive
attitude has to change otherwise it will face serious consequences.
On Monday, as well as the report by Detlev Mehlis, the Security Council had before it an
equally significant report by Terje Roed-Larsen. For many years the Syrians have
accused Israel of occupying Lebanese land the Shabaa farms area. The Syrians have
used this in the past as a justification for keeping their troops in Lebanon and continue
to use it as an excuse for arming Hezbollah. Terje Roed-Larsen has shown conclusively that
map after map including those produced by the Syrian and Lebanese governments
marks the Shabaa farms area as part of Syria, and not Lebanon. I would now like to
see the United Nations make a clear declaration that Hezbollah cannot use the Shabaa farms
area as a reason to delay disarming and that Syria and Iran cannot use it as an excuse to
I know that you have just started the reading of the Torah from the very first portion of
Genesis in the beginning. We must make every effort for a new beginning with
renewed efforts to support the peace process.
This year, marks two important anniversaries. First, it is 350 years since Manessah Ben
Israel obtained official recognition for Jews in Britain from Oliver Cromwell. Today's
Jewish community in this country should be proud of its vitality and vibrancy and be
congratulated for its many achievements. Anglo-Jewry serves to provide a positive message
for multicultural Britain, as a religious minority who have, over time, integrated
themselves into the fabric of British life and culture, whilst still maintaining their
ancient traditions and central tenets of their faith.
And in two days' time it will be ten years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
a statesman and Nobel Prize Winner whose legacy continues to shape Israeli politics to
this day. Prime Minister Rabin embarked on a courageous journey which laid the groundwork
for future negotiations between Israel and Palestine. All the friends of Israel
both here and around the world hope that one day this vision of peace will be
Jack Straw, Lord Levy, Tony Blair
April 20, 2006