By November 18, 2020 December 8th, 2020 No Comments

Lord Stuart Polak (UK)

CFI Honorary President

Lord Polak was elevated to the House of Lords in October 2015. He has sat on the EU Security and Justice Sub-Committee since May 2016, and sat on the European Union Committee from October 2018 until July 2019.

Lord Polak was appointed as only the second Director of Conservative Friends of Israel in 1989, a position which he held until 2015 when he was made Honorary President.

In March 2015, he was awarded the CBE for political services to Conservative Friends of Israel.

Born in Liverpool in 1961 where he grew up and was educated, Lord Polak began his career working for the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 1984 as Education Director.

He has coordinated and led more than 150 Conservative Friends of Israel delegations of politicians to Israel over 28 years and through this he has developed extensive relationships with MPs, Peers, MEPs and advisors throughout all levels of the Conservative Party.

Dr. Liam Fox (UK)

The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP has been Member of Parliament for North Somerset since 1992.  In John Major’s Government he served as a Minister at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and as Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury).  He had previously served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Howard, then Home Secretary.

Between 1997 and 2010, he held several roles on the Conservative Party Opposition Front Bench such as Constitutional Affairs Spokesman, Shadow Health Secretary, Conservative Party Chairman, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Defence Secretary.

In May 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed him Secretary of State for Defence.  In 2013, he published ‘Rising Tides’ a book analysing crucial world issues with Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm Rifkind and Donald Rumsfeld.

Between July 2016 and July 2019, he served in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government as Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade.  As International Trade Secretary he was tasked with creating the UK’s first Independent Trade Policy for forty years post-Brexit.  During his time in post he strongly argued for global trade liberalisation, championed free trade and supported a rules-based system with WTO reform.

Before entering politics, Dr Fox worked as an NHS doctor and then as a family GP.  He is also a former Civilian Army Medical Officer and Divisional Surgeon with St John Ambulance.  In 2012, he founded the military charity ‘Give Us Time’.

He was born in Scotland and attended St Bride’s High School, the biggest comprehensive state school in Europe, before studying medicine at the University of Glasgow Medical School.

Sen. David Fawcett (AU)

David Julian Fawcett (BSc, MBA, MAICD, QTP, psc) served in the Australian Defence Force for more than 22 years. An Army pilot, he flew helicopters and fixed wing aircraft and was the senior flying instructor at the School of Army Aviation in Queensland.

Graduating as an experimental test pilot from the Empire Test Pilots’ School (UK), he finished his full time career in Defence as the Commanding Officer of the RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit.

Elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Wakefield (South Australia) in 2004, he served in the Parliament until 2007. David continued to fly as a test pilot and ran a small business working in the Defence and aviation sectors before being elected to the Senate in 2010, 2016 and again this year.

With tertiary qualifications in science and business administration, he is known for his evidence- based approach to policy development and oversight with a focus on outcomes that are in the national interest.

David is a strong advocate for reform and investment that lead to a more effective and efficient national defence capability. This work has led to reform of the governance underpinning Defence and a sovereign defence industry being formally recognised as one of the fundamental inputs to defence capability. His widely respected policy understanding has led to a number of appointments, including as chair of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

He was appointed the Assistant Minister for Defence in during the 45th Parliament.

David’s experience in aviation has helped to facilitate change in Australia’s aviation policy and approach to aviation safety regulation. As chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services in the 44th Parliament, he led an inquiry into the educational and professional standards of the financial advice industry. This body of work has been a catalyst for significant legislative and industry-led reforms in the finance sector.

David has been an active member of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel since his election in 2004 and was chair of the group from 2014 to 2018.

Having lived in Asia, the UK and across Australia, David is proud to call South Australia home. He is a keen sailor and is married to Lorna with two adult daughters.


Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman (IL)

Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

Dr. Lerman was deputy director for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. He held senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence for over 20 years. He also served for eight years as director of the Israel and Middle East office of the American Jewish Committee. He teaches in the Middle East studies program at Shalem College in Jerusalem, and in post-graduate programs at Tel Aviv University and the National Defense College. He is an expert on Israel’s foreign relations, and on the Middle East. A third-generation Sabra, he holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, and a mid-career MPA from Harvard University.

Dame Louise Ellman (UK)

Dame Louise Ellman served as the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside from 1997 to 2019.

Louise is a former Parliamentary Chair of Labour Friends of Israel. She is a vociferous opponent of antisemitism, particularly the rise of it within the Labour party, and was one of Israel’s biggest friends in Parliament.

In Parliament, Louise chaired the Parliamentary Transport Committee from 2008 until 2017, having served as a member of it since 2002.

In October 2019, Louise resigned from the Labour party saying that she “can no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM”. Louise had been a member of the party for 55 years.

In her resignation statement, Louise said that “under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour party. Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out. Antisemites have felt comfortable and vile conspiracy theories have been propagated. A party that permits anti-Jewish racism to flourish cannot be called anti-racist.”

She graduated from the University of Hull with a BA in Sociology and History before being awarded an MPhil from the University of York. She was a lecturer for the Open University and the Labour leader of Lancashire County Council before her election to Parliament.

In December 2018, Louise was made by a Dame Commander of the British Empire as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her parliamentary and political service.

Louise is also the long-standing president of the Jewish Labour Movement, the membership organisation of Labour supporting members of the Jewish Community.

Yossi Melman

Profile coming soon


Behnam Ben Taleblu (IL)

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at FDD where he focuses on Iranian security and political issues. Behnam previously served as a research fellow and senior Iran analyst at FDD. Prior to his time at FDD, Behnam worked on non-proliferation issues at an arms control think-tank in Washington. Leveraging his subject-matter expertise and native Farsi skills, Behnam has closely tracked a wide range of Iran-related topics including: nuclear non-proliferation, ballistic missiles, sanctions, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the foreign and security policy of the Islamic Republic, and internal Iranian politics. Frequently called upon to brief journalists, congressional staff, and other Washington-audiences, Behnam has also testified before the U.S. Congress and Canadian Parliament.

His analysis has been quoted in The Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalReutersFox NewsThe Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse, among others. Additionally, he has contributed to or co-authored articles for Foreign AffairsForeign PolicyFox NewsThe HillWar on the RocksThe National Interest, and U.S. News & World Report. Behnam has appeared on a variety of broadcast programs, including BBC NewsFox NewsCBS InteractiveC-SPAN, and Defense News. Behnam earned his MA in International Relations from The University of Chicago, and his BA in International Affairs and Middle East Studies from The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

Michael Easson (AU)

Michael Easson is executive chair of EG Funds Management, with offices in Sydney, Australia, and Austin, Texas, and co-founder and executive director of the building technology company Willow Inc., with offices in Sydney, New York, London and Tel Aviv. He is the first independent chair of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia. After serving in several significant positions in the Australian trade union movement, for the last 25 years Michael has worked in business, including serving on boards in many fields including insurance, infrastructure, construction, sport, and the arts. He has a long standing interest in and has written articles on the Middle East and Australian foreign policy. He has a BA (Hons.) in politics from the University of NSW (UNSW); a MSc from Campion Hall, the University of Oxford; a PhD in History from the Australia Defence Academy, UNSW; and a PhD in transp

John Lee (AU)

Dr John Lee is a senior fellow and adjunct professor at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC.

From 2016-2018, he was senior adviser to Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop. In this role, he served as the principal adviser on Asia and for economic, strategic and political affairs in the Indo-Pacific region.

John was also appointed the Foreign Minister’s lead adviser on the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the first comprehensive foreign affairs blueprint for Australia since 2003 and written to guide Australia’s external engagement for the next 10 years and beyond.

He is one of the foremost experts on the Chinese political-economy and on strategic and economic affairs pertaining to the Indo-Pacific.

His articles have been published in leading policy and academic journals in the United States, Asia and Australia and his first book was entitled Will China Fail? – published 2007 and updated and published again in 2009.

His opinions are published frequently by The Australian and has been published in more than 50 major newspapers and current affairs magazines in the United States, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.

He received his Masters and Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford and his Bachelor of Laws and Arts (1st Class – Philosophy) degrees from the University of New South Wales.

Dr Lee is based in Sydney, Australia.


Tony Abbott (AU)

Tony was elected Prime Minister by the Australian people on September 7, 2013 and served for two years.

In his time as PM, the carbon tax and mining tax were repealed, free-trade agreements were finalised with China, Japan and Korea; the people smuggling trade from Indonesia to Australia was halted; Australia became the second largest military contributor to the US-led campaign against Islamic State in Iraq; the biggest federally-funded infrastructure program in Australian history commenced; and Australia hosted the G20 meeting of global leaders in Brisbane in November 2014.

In 2014, and again in 2015, he spent a week running the government from a remote indigenous community.

As opposition leader at the 2010 election, he reduced a first-term Labor government to minority status before comprehensively winning the 2013 election.

Between 1996 and 2007, he was successively parliamentary secretary, minister, cabinet minister, and leader of the House of Representatives in the Howard government. As health minister, he expanded Medicare to include dentists, psychologists and other health professionals and resolved the medical indemnity crisis. As workplace relations minister, he boosted construction industry productivity through the establishment of a royal commission against union lawlessness. And as employment minister, he developed private-sector job placement services and work-for-the-dole for long-term unemployed people.

Tony served as the member for Warringah in the Australian parliament between 1994 and this year. As the local MP, he was instrumental in the creation of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to preserve the natural and built heritage of his electorate and elsewhere.

Before entering parliament, he was a journalist with The Australian, a senior adviser to opposition leader John Hewson, and director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. He has degrees in economics and law from Sydney University and in politics and philosophy from Oxford which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

He is the author of three books: The Minimal Monarchy (1995), How to Win the Constitutional War (1997), and Battlelines (2009).

He is a Member of the Australian War Memorial Council, and a Director of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.

Since 1998, he has convened the Pollie Pedal annual charity bike ride which has raised almost $7 million for organisations such as Soldier On, Carers Australia, and other charities. He still does surf patrols with the Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club and serves as a Deputy Captain with the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade. He was appointed by the UK Government as an Advisor to the Board of Trade in 2020.

He is married to Margaret and they are the parents of three daughters – Louise, Frances and Bridget.


Tobias Ellwood (UK)

Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East
Chair of the Defence Select Committee

Tobias Ellwood has been the Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East since being elected in the 2005 General Election. He retained his seat in the 2019 General Election with a majority of 8,808.

Tobias is the Chair of the Defence Select Committee, after being elected to the position in January 2020. He previously served as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Defence from June 2017 to July 2019.

In July 2014, Tobias was appointed as Minister for the Middle East and Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In his role as Minister, serving until June 2017, Tobias’s responsibilities include the Middle East, Africa, counter terrorism, countering violent extremism, consular policy, and illegal wildlife trade.

He has visited Israel on numerous occasions as Middle East Minister, and has spoken at many CFI events.

Tobias was Parliamentary Adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron for the 2014 NATO Summit and a member of the Parliamentary Delegation to the NATO Assembly 2014.

Shortly after being first elected to Parliament in 2005, he was appointed Opposition Whip. In July 2007, he was promoted to the post of Shadow Minister for Culture Media and Sport where he was responsible for a portfolio including tourism, gambling and licensing. After the May 2010 General Election, Tobias was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary, Rt. Hon Liam Fox MP. He was appointed to similar positions for the Minister for Europe, Rt Hon David Lidington MP, in October 2011, and the Health Secretary, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, in October 2013.

Tobias was in the Royal Green Jackets from 1991 to 1996, and served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kuwait, Germany, Gibraltar and Bosnia. He left the Army at the rank of Captain and is a current Army Reservist. In September 2018, Ellwood announced that he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as a reservist in the 77th Brigade.

Before his parliamentary career, Tobias was a senior business development manager with the London Stock Exchange for two years, and then with Allen and Overy in a senior role.

Yossi Melman

Profile coming soon


Tin Pei Ling (SG)

TIN Pei Ling MP represents the MacPherson Single Member Constituency in the Singapore Parliament, where she has served since 2011. She is also the Chairperson of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Communications & Information. And is now the CEO of Business China, a non-profit organisation that harnesses the support of the public sector and private enterprises to strengthen the ties between Singapore and China. Business China was created by Lee Kuan Yew in 2007 to nurture a bilingual and bicultural group of Singaporeans in developing a cultural and economic linking of Singapore & China.

Pei Ling’s former professional experiences included business consultancy at Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd and group corporate strategy at Jing King Tech (now known as Adera Global).

Married with two children, she takes an interest in diverse topics, including public health (incl mental health) and smart nation/digital economy.

Mary Easson (AU)

Chief Executive

Mary Easson has been involved as co-chair of the Australian Israel Leadership Dialogue for 10 years. She is a former Federal Member of the Australian Parliament, serving in the Keating Labor Government until 1996. Mary has served on the board of Australia’s largest insurance company, chairing its risk management and audit committee. Through her business, Probity International, she has advised listed and unlisted international and Australian companies. She graduated with a Masters of Philosophy from the School of Business at the University of NSW. She was chair of the advisory board of the Institute for Research into Retirement Policy and Management, the Sydney Business School.

She is author of Keating’s & Kelty’s Super Legacy: The Birth and Relentless Threats to the Australian System of Superannuation (Connor Court 2017).

Christopher Pyne (AU)

Christopher Pyne served as the 54th Australian Defence Minister, and was responsible for delivering the $200 billion build-up of Australia’s military capability, the largest in Australia’s peacetime history.

Serving previously as Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher assisted in the development of the 2016 Defence White Paper and implementing the Integrated Investment Program.

During his time as a Cabinet Minister in the Defence portfolio, Christopher:

Christopher also worked to ensure the growth and sustainment of Australia’s Defence Industry, and thus implemented Australia’s Defence Export Strategy, Defence Industrial Capability Plan, and the Naval Shipbuilding Plan. He also created the Defence Cooperative Research Centre, the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, the Defence Innovation Hub, and the Next Generation Technology Fund.

On an international scale, Christopher was responsible for creating the Pacific Step Up to strengthen Australia’s strategic role in the South Pacific, and was the architect of the Australian Government’s position that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Christopher also worked to strengthen Australia’s defence ties with other countries, establishing the Australia France Initiative to take advantage of the close relationship with France through the Attack Class Submarine Project. He settled Defence Memoranda of Understanding with Israel, China, and Switzerland, and initiated Memoranda of Understanding with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Christopher was also the driving force behind the establishment of the Australia Space Agency.

Christopher was a Minister in the Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison Governments, holding various portfolios including Ageing, Education, Industry Innovation and Science, and Defence.

As a Minister for Education and Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, respectively, Christopher delivered the National Innovation and Science Agenda, reformed the national curriculum, introduced compulsory literacy and numeracy testing for Australian teaching graduates and expanded phonics teaching.


Shabtai Shavit

Former Director of the Mossad & Chairman of the Board of Director, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), IDC Herzliya

Mr. Shavit was the director of the Mossad, Israel's Intelligence Services, from 1989 to 1996. Mr. Shavit held a variety of positions within the Mossad for over 32 years, until becoming head of the agency in 1989. He served in "Sayeret Matkal" - Israel's Elite Force, and received an advanced degree from Harvard University. After retiring from work in the security services, Shavit was the CEO of Maccabi Health Services Group for five years. Since 2001 Shavit has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT), Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Advisor to the Israeli National Security Council, Advisor to the Sub-Committee on intelligence of the Knesset, Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Member of the N.Y.F.D. Task Force for Future Preparedness against Terrorism. He is also the author of Head of the Mossad: in Pursuit for a Safe and Secure Israel published by Notre Dame University Press.


Richard Marles (AU)

Richard Marles was elected to Federal Parliament as the Member for Corio in November 2007.

Richard was born in 1967, raised in Geelong, and educated at Geelong Grammar School. He has a LLB (Hons) and BSc from Melbourne University.

He began his career with legal firm Slater and Gordon. In 1998, he became federal assistant secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union where he was responsible for bargaining with national transport companies and managing the union’s activities in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

In 2000, he became assistant secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and ran the Working Hours Case, which gave workers the right, for the first time, to refuse unreasonable amounts of overtime. He was a member of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission and led the ACTU’s work on OHS. He also led an innovative program of co-operation between the Australian and Papua New Guinea union movements.

He has previously served as Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Trade, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and today is deputy leader of the Opposition and shadow minister for Defence.


Mike Gapes (UK)

Mike Gapes served as the MP for Ilford South from April 1992 until November 2019 when Parliament was dissolved for the 2019 general election. He was a Labour Friends of Israel Parliamentary Supporter.

In February 2019, Mike left the Labour party over Corbyn’s failures on antisemitism and Brexit. In his resignation letter, he said “I am sickened that Labour is now perceived by many as a racist, anti-Semitic party”. He also accused Corbyn “and those around him” of taking the “wrong side on so many international issues from Russia, to Syria, to Venezuela.”

He held the position of Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee from July 2005 to April 2010. He had previously served as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee from 1992 to 1997, and the Defence Committee from 1999-2001 and 2003 to 2005.

Mike was Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office from 1997 to 1999 and Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Home Office from 2001 to 2002. He was Chair of the Board of Governors of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy from 2002 to 2005.

He was a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and is a former Vice-Chair and Treasurer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

Before his election to Parliament, Mike worked at Labour Party Headquarters for 15 years including serving from 1988 to 1992 as International Secretary of the Labour Party, and prior to that as a Policy Research Officer and as the National Student Organiser of the Labour Party. Mike has also worked in the National Health Service, in Adult Education and as a Voluntary Service Overseas teacher in Swaziland, Southern Africa.