Pro-Israel Tycoon Gives Labour Half a Million Pounds

ER Editor: This piece was written 2 days before the July 4, 2024 UK election.

Readers may be interested in this piece from October, 2023. Note that the Conservative Party initiated this colossal rise in the limit on party donations

Labour courts wealthy donors as UK election spending cap soars

Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government is set to raise the national election spending cap on political parties by almost 85 per cent to about £35mn, putting pressure on Labour to ramp up its fundraising efforts with business backers.


Labour officials are confident that three individuals will each have pledged the party £5mn in the run-up to the election, a move that would mark a significant shift from the opposition party’s reliance on trade union donations. 

Were Labour and Conservatives working hand in hand over this? After all, this FT article suggests that raising money for Labour to meet the new limit wasn’t difficult. Further, the Tories knew they would likely lose after 13 years in power, and that someone like Farage might enter the ring.

From the Independent, June 5, a month ago —

Labour’s election war chest boosted by £5m megadonor

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Pro-Israel Tycoon Gives Labour Half a Million Pounds

Stuart Roden started a company with an Israeli special forces veteran and a senior Conservative. He’s now among Labour’s top election donors.

JOHN MCEVOY

Stuart Roden, the chairman of Israeli venture capital firm Hetz Ventures, has given the Labour party over half a million pounds ahead of the UK’s general election, Declassified has found.

His donations worth £570,000 were registered with the Electoral Commission after Rishi Sunak called the snap poll.

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on Emily Upjohn with connections and owner Andrew Lloyd Webber (right) during the QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire. Picture date: Saturday October 15, 2022.

Stuart Roden (glasses) celebrates behind Frankie Dettori after they win at Ascot. (Photo: John Walton / Alamy)

He is among a number of pro-Israel businessmen in Britain to have contributed to Labour’s election warchest, with figures such as Gary Lubner also donating £900,000 to the party in recent weeks.

Roden is joined at Hetz Ventures by an array of former Israeli soldiers, many of whom have served in elite intelligence units.

He is also the prime funder of a Zionist educational programme in Britain which teaches children that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are acting proportionately in Gaza.

Roden was filmed shouting at peaceful pro-Palestine protesters outside the Labour party conference in October. “You murdered children” he screamed at the crowd, which included elderly women, telling journalists the demonstration should be banned.

Hetz Ventures

Roden began working in the City of London in the 1980s and launched Hetz Ventures in 2018.

His net worth was estimated in the following year’s Sunday Times Rich List at around £280m, putting him among Britain’s 500 wealthiest people.

Roden owns a thoroughbred racehorse with Andrew Lloyd Webber that Frankie Dettori rode to victory at Ascot.

His company, Hetz, describes itself as “the first choice investor for ambitious early-stage Israeli startups”.

Based in Tel Aviv, the firm’s three founding partners are Roden, ex-Conservative party chairman Lord Feldman, and London-born former Israeli special forces soldier Judah Taub.

Feldman was described by the Financial Times as “David Cameron’s oldest political friend”.

Taub “served as an officer in a classified intelligence unit” and passed through Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s version of the SAS.

He served 111 days for the Israeli reserves since 7 October, apparently in Gaza, which he describes as a “privilege rather than a burden”.

Other members of the Hetz leadership team include Pavel Livshiz and Yael Barsheshet, both of whom have served in elite Israeli military intelligence units.

The company has volunteered for the Israeli “war effort” in Gaza “with food packing, donations, and farming”.

Roden defended the Israeli military during a recent interview with the British press.

He told the Spectator on 12 October that the IDF “will do everything in its power, as it always has done, to avoid civilian casualties”, arguing that Israel was engaged in a “clash of civilisations” where one side respects civilian life and the other does not.

By this time, the death toll in Gaza had risen to over 1,500 people.

Roden added that there “was absolutely no way” he would have voted for Jeremy Corbyn, “and voted actively against him… The idea that the party hasn’t changed [under Starmer] is ludicrous, because it seriously, seriously has”.

The interview was conducted after Roden was filmed denouncing a pro-Palestine protest in Liverpool, shouting: “Starmer is absolutely right. Kick them out. I did not vote Labour last time under Corbyn”.

I-gnite

Roden is also the lead funder of a Zionist educational initiative named I-gnite, which was established after Israel’s last war with Gaza in 2021. It aims “to support students, teachers and parents” in Britain “to find their voice when discussing Israel and antisemitism”.

The programme is co-chaired by Dana Brass, a former director of the pro-Israel media monitoring group Just Journalism, which was closely associated with the neo-conservative Henry Jackson Society think tank.

I-gnite’s website hosts informational content on “The Big Questions” surrounding Israel and Palestine, such as apartheid, colonialism, genocide, and occupation.

“Calling Israel an apartheid state is offensive, false, and an insult to the millions of black South Africans and others who have suffered under true apartheid regimes”, the group says.

“Israel is not a ‘colonial’ state as you cannot colonise the land your ancestors are from,” it continues. “Those painting Israelis as colonisers are trying to dehumanise Jews”.

On the issue of proportionality, I-gnite claims that “Hamas places weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques” in Gaza, making them a “legitimate military target” for the IDF.

The organisation has hosted a webinar with Natasha Hausdorff, the director of UK Lawyers for Israel, who has argued that the Palestinian death toll in Gaza is being overcounted.

Roden also sits on the board of the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank founded by former Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

He chairs the charity Unlocking Potential and is a trustee of the National Gallery and Rabbi Sacks Foundation.

Labour’s warchest

Roden has now donated over £1m in total to Labour since 2023. He has funded the party directly, as well as shadow ministers Bridget Phillipson and Lisa Nandy.

Declassified approached his company for comment on why he is giving this amount of money to Labour. No response was received at the time of publication.

His donations are dwarfed by those of another pro-Israel funder, Gary Lubner, who has given Labour around £6m since Keir Starmer became party leader.

Lubner was a policeman in Apartheid South Africa whose family donated to the ruling white supremacist National party. Lubner claims he opposed Apartheid.

The scale of Labour’s funding from pro-Israel businessmen is significant and exceeds the £5.9m it received from trade unions last year.

Donations to Labour from wealthy individuals and companies are now at record levels, with the Guardian saying it “helped offset a £3m drop in income from members, after a sharp decline in grassroots involvement since Corbyn’s departure, and counterbalance the weight of support from trade union funding”.

Andrew Feinstein, an independent candidate standing against the Labour leader in Holborn and St Pancras, told Declassified: “It’s absolutely appalling and indefensible that Keir Starmer is taking millions of pounds from pro-Israel lobbyists.

“Between Gary Lubner and Stuart Roden we’re talking about over £1.5m to fight this election, from two people whose primary interest would appear to be protecting Israel from criticism”.

Feinstein, the son of a Holocaust survivor, fears these donations could deter Starmer from speaking out over Gaza, where Labour has not demanded an arms embargo or unqualified ceasefire.

He added: “It is because of massive donations like this from incredibly wealthy individuals that today Britain has the best democracy money can buy.

“It is for this reason that we must stop Keir Starmer becoming prime minister, and we must get money out of our politics – because our politicians represent the interests of their super-rich donors rather than their constituents.”

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