‘Our friend’: How the Israel lobby spent £30,000 on Wes Streeting

Labour’s shadow health secretary has a long history of supporting Israel going back to his days at the National Union of Students—and has been rewarded handsomely for it.

4 June 2024
2T37CTY London, UK. 23rd Oct, 2023. Wes Streeting, Labour Party MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom in Westminster today. Credit: Imageplotter/Alamy Live News

Wes Streeting faces a backlash over his support for Israel. (Photo: Imageplotter / Alamy)

  • Streeting was Keir Starmer’s first shadow minister to visit Israel
  • His visit in 2022 was paid for by Labour Friends of Israel, which “works really closely” with Israeli embassy in London
  • He has taken over £20,000 from Israel lobbyists Sir Trevor Chinn, Lord Mendelsohn and David Menton, with donations as recently as April
  • Pro-Israel newspaper said Streeting’s “track-record on Israel is clear” and called him “our friend at the NUS”
  • Streeting is being challenged by British-Palestinian independent Leanne Mohamad

Wes Streeting has received nearly £30,000 from Britain’s powerful pro-Israel lobby, Declassified has found. 

Two years ago, Streeting became the first member of Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet to visit Israel, in a move designed to signal a break with Jeremy Corbyn’s pro-Palestine position. 

The trip was paid for by Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and cost £4,700. LFI also paid for Sarah Harrison, one of Streeting’s staffers, to visit Israel with him.

Another Streeting staffer, Anna Wilson, was paid an undisclosed amount to visit Israel last July. 

Her trip was funded by the European Leadership Network, a group whose UK branch is run by Joan Ryan, former chair of LFI. 

LFI is a secretive organisation that does not disclose its funders, although undercover reporting revealed Ryan, then a Labour MP, discussing a £1 million payment from Israel with Shai Masot, an Israeli diplomat, in 2016. 

In another covertly filmed conversation outside a London pub, LFI’s Michael Rubin said that he and Masot “work really closely together…but a lot of it is behind the scenes”. 

Masot was eventually forced to quit his job at the Israeli embassy and return home after he was caught on camera plotting to “take down” British MPs.

Israeli healthcare companies

Streeting was sent on a four-day “fact finding mission” by LFI during which he met with “Israeli health experts, health tech start-ups, politicians, academics and diplomats”.

“I wanted to return to Israel to see the incredible advances in medical technology being developed here, some of which blew me away,” he wrote afterwards. “Israel is 10 years ahead of the NHS.”

LFI’s chairman Steve McCabe said: “I know that Wes will come away from this delegation with a close insight into how Israeli tech can support our own healthcare system as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Israel is a serial violator of international law, and is judged to be practising apartheid against the Palestinians by both the US and UK’s top human rights groups, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Leading Israeli group B’Tselem has also reached the same conclusion.

It is currently being investigated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for genocide, while the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking arrest warrants for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes in Gaza.

Streeting described the ICJ case as a “distraction”.

He has also accepted £175,000 in donations from companies linked to private healthcare, raising concerns that he would further privatise Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Streeting, who represents Labour in the east London constituency of Ilford North, is sitting on a slim majority that nearly halved in 2019 to around 5,000.

This election he is being challenged by 23 year old British-Palestinian independent candidate Leanne Mohamad, with many voters angry at Streeting’s stance on Gaza and privatisation. 

Mohamad told Declassified: “My family work in the NHS, and the NHS affects us all. And what Wes Streeting is doing to the NHS clearly is something that’s affecting so many voters. People can’t trust the NHS in his hands.”

She added: “So it’s more than Palestine, but you have to realise the same people who are calling for this genocide to continue in Palestine, who are not calling for a ceasefire, are the same people who are calling for NHS privatisation.”


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National Union of Students

Streeting was president of the National Union of Students (NUS) from 2008-10. Soon after he was elected the staunchly pro-Israel newspaper Jewish Chronicle ran a profile of him titled “Wes Streeting: Our friend at the NUS”.

The article noted how Streeting had been “verbally abused” while reading Alan Dershowitz’s  notoriously fraudulent book The Case for Israel on the London underground.

The paper termed the incident an “antisemitic attack” although it did not elaborate on what was said and Streeting is not Jewish. 

It went to describe the service Streeting had done for Israel in Britain, praising his “zero tolerance stance” on academic boycotts. 

Streeting, it noted, had “worked hard to support the Union of Jewish Students”, which is reportedly funded directly by the Israeli government. 

Reflecting on protests at British universities against Operation Cast Lead – Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008-9 that left 1,400 Palestinians dead – Streeting told the Jewish Chronicle: “I was quite disgusted by the tactics on some campuses.”

He added: “There were a number of occupations which were so-called ‘student occupations’, but there was very little evidence whatsoever that they were being generated by students.”

When he was running to be an MP for the first time in 2015, the paper added: “Mr Streeting’s own track-record on Israel is clear. During his NUS presidency he was praised for improving relations with the Union of Jewish Students at a time when anti-Israel activism on campuses was growing.”


Two-fifths of Keir Starmer’s cabinet have been funded by pro-Israel...


Israel lobbyists

From 2021 up to April this year, Streeting has received £15,000 from Sir Trevor Chinn, a car industry mogul whose father was president of the Jewish National Fund in Britain.

The JNF is a quasi-governmental organisation which has supported illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, and was described by historian Ilan Pappé as a “colonialist agency of ethnic cleansing”.

Since the 1980s, Chinn has funded both Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel and played a key role in groups such as the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and the Jewish Leadership Council.

The Guardian has described BICOM as “Britain’s most active pro-Israel lobbying organisation – which flies journalists to Israel on fact-finding trips and organises access to senior government figures”.

Chinn’s funding for Streeting has mostly covered staffing costs for his office, although it is unclear what personnel specifically it had paid for. His latest donation to Streeting came as recently as April this year.

In 2021, Streeting received £5,000 from Red Capital again to pay for staff in his office. The company is owned by former LFI chairman Jonathan Mendelsohn.

Mendelsohn is also the director of Europa Healthcare Group, which has fed off NHS privatisation. Streeting is likely to be the next health secretary and supports further privatisation of the British health system. 

Then, in February this year, David Menton, the former director of BICOM, donated £2,230 to Streeting. Two months later, his wife donated a further £2,230. 

Streeting has also been funded by major corporate interests. For two speaking panels organised by JP Morgan in 2018 and 2019 Streeting was paid £10,000. 

In April 2019 he was paid £5,388 to visit San Francisco to participate in a trade and technology delegation. Sponsors for his trip included the world’s largest weapons company, Lockheed Martin.

Streeting did not respond to Declassified’s request for comment.