Story-ideas-1011172

SA-born British Conservative Party CEO, speaks out

  • MickDavis
South African-born businessman Sir Mick Davis was recently voted Britain’s most influential Jew. While his views on Israel are controversial, he holds the position of Chief Executive of the Conservative Party, as appointed by Tory Prime Minister Theresa May.
by SHIRA DRUION | Aug 02, 2018

At the moment, the Conservative Party is seen as the lesser of the two evils in England in the light of the anti-Semitic threat posed by Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Just last week, the three British Jewish newspapers, The Jewish Chronicle, The Jewish News, and The Jewish Telegraph, all published the same editorial warning of the “existential” threat to British Jewry that a Corbyn government would pose.

Davis told the SA Jewish Report that the Labour Party’s policies regarding Israel were cause for concern, and that anti-Semitic sentiment continued to infect Corbyn, and the thousands who shared his attitude.

“The current Labour leadership is failing the Jews of the United Kingdom, and its stance on Israel is confusing and at the same time troubling. It is sad to see that although there are many Labour MPs who have made it their life’s mission to fight anti-Semitism and stand up for the legitimacy of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, it continues to fester,” he says.

“It is indeed sad that today, so many Jews whose political home was Labour now feel estranged because the party’s leaders do not stand up to anti-Semites, and at times legitimise organisations which promote anti-Semitic tropes and encourage BDS [the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement].”

As for anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom as a whole, Davis says: “Yes, of course there are incidents of anti-Semitism in the UK. And in some parts of the UK’s establishment, it appears to be an institutional problem. But this country is not anti-Semitic.

“Jews have risen to the heights of society, and our community is admired for its resilience and contribution. I pay tribute to my friend Gerald Ronson who established the Community Security Trust to ensure that all Jews in the UK are safe, and that anti-Semitism is rooted out.”

Davis, however, has had his fair share of criticism for his outspoken views on Israel which have challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies.

“Israel is at risk of becoming an apartheid state over its treatment of Palestinians,” says Davis. “If she abandons a two-state solution for a one-state solution, she will be forced to choose between being Jewish or democratic, it can’t be both.

“The policies and actions of the Israeli government can also affect Jews in the diaspora both positively and negatively, and have an impact on the Jewish identity and connection to Israel of young diaspora Jews. I fear that the occupation, and more specifically the apparent lack of will or vision to end it, is harming Jewish and Zionist identity. Then, as now, many diaspora Jewish leaders share those concerns, as do many Israelis.”

Davis, who hails from Port Elizabeth, studied at Rhodes University.

In this exclusive interview with the SA Jewish Report, he says, “I left South Africa at the end of 1997. The company I worked for undertook an Initial Public Offering in the London market, and listed on the London Stock Exchange as Billiton Plc. As its then Financial Director, I relocated to the UK as its financial centre and head office were in London from then on.”

Sir Mick, as he is fondly known, has continued to make an impact at the highest echelons of society in business and politics, and has held a multitude of illustrious positions in the United Kingdom, including Chief Executive of Xstrata, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, and Chair of former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Holocaust Memorial Commission.

When discussing his journey to his position in the Conservative Party, he says, “I am not ‘in politics’ in a classical sense. I have never sought elected office, and that is not a current goal. At the time of the global financial crisis, the UK’s society and economy came under stress.”

His impressive business acumen comes into play as he deals with the complex variables that come with the territory. “I believed that the policies of a conservative Government would offer more realistic and deliverable solutions to the challenges of the time. I became a donor to the party, and when I left Xstrata, I was asked to become its treasurer – chief fundraiser. After the 2017 general election, the Prime Minister asked me to assume the role of Chief Executive of the party, and rebuild its campaign and research capability.”

Davis speaks with piercing focus about Zionism, and how he feels about being a Zionist in the United Kingdom. “I am full of admiration for Jewish communities around the world. My values as a Jew were born from being part of a vibrant Zionist and hugely connected community in South Africa.

“I will not pretend that when first entering, the community of Great Britain was not without its challenges. I have been blessed since then to have been part of, and in a small way to have contributed to this community’s growth and emerging vibrancy and vitality. Israel and its people will always hold a special place in my heart. They are robust, brave, innovative, and fearless in challenging convention. But, across the Jewish world, challenges and divisions are potentially becoming all consuming,” he says.

His love for South Africa stands. He visits South Africa often, and continues to retain a patriotic sentimentality. “My wife Barbara and I have investments in South Africa, and are engaged in programmes in support of young people at risk, education, and of course programmes which underpin the Jewish community.”

He is concerned about the current situation, but is emphatic that with the right procedures in place, things could improve. “The government under my old friend President Ramaphosa has many challenges to overcome. The previous regime did a great deal of harm, and the aftermath of its corrupt stewardship will be felt for a long time to come. The challenges of home ownership, education, and healthcare are capable of being met provided honest, pragmatic, and strategic interventions are made in good time.

His stance of standing up for what he believes in plays out in outspoken views on Israel. “The Israeli government has a duty to ensure that the citizens of Israel are safe and secure, and the existential threats that they face are met and overcome,” says Davis.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu deserves a lot of credit for having pursued this goal. However, the lack of progress on the two-state solution is an existential threat. While it is not Israel’s sole responsibility to build the conditions which will over time create momentum for this goal, it is occupying land which in 1947 we agreed would be the Palestinian state. It is an occupying power. I understand full well the complexities, but the corrosive effects of this are beginning to challenge the modern Zionist goal of a Jewish and democratic state. It may well be that there is no partner to negotiate with right now – but there are so many opportunities to build the conditions for productive negotiations which are being neglected.”

These sentiments have been echoed by philanthropist and ardent Zionist, Ronald Lauder, who has also spoken out against Netanyahu’s policies. “The crisis is especially pronounced among the younger generation, which is predominantly secular,” says Lauder. “An increasing number of Jewish millennials – particularly in the United States – are distancing themselves from Israel because its policies contradict their values.”

Comment

  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
       
    Toolbar's wrapper 
     
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
      
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.
       

Injure

 

Follow us on

Newsletter