Britain Appoints Pro-Israel Trade Minister

YERUSHALAYIM -
Ian Livingston, the next British trade minister, speaking at a recent Chamber of Commerce Annual Conference in London. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Ian Livingston, the next British trade minister, speaking at a recent Chamber of Commerce Annual Conference in London. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

News of Britain’s new trade minister will surely be welcomed in Yerushalayim.

Ian Livingston, a prominent businessman, is also an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, which he has called “the most amazing state in the world,” according to The Times of Israel.

Livingston, 48, is widely credited with successfully navigating the global downturn as chief of BT (formerly British Telecom).

An indication of just how much his leadership was admired: The announcement of his departure for government, to take effect in September, immediately wiped £400 million ($618 million) off BT’s market value.

Livingston belongs to an Orthodox shul, and has long actively supported various Jewish and Israeli causes.

Livingston is not a supporter “of the current Israeli government,” he said during a recent interview with the UK’s Jewish Chronicle. “If there is a Labor government in Israel, I am happier. I can be more emotionally attached to it,” he said, but he stressed that this did not dramatically change “my approach and attitude to Israel, any more than saying because I might disagree with the actions of the British government in some places, it somehow makes me less British.”

During his tenure at BT, Livingston rebuffed pressure from the charity War on Want for the company to disassociate itself from Israel’s telecom company Bezeq. “I have not received a single email from anyone in War on Want expressing any concerns about a relationship we may or many not have had in Syria, in Libya or anywhere else,” noted Livingston. “You wonder and ask yourself repeatedly: Why is it? Is it anti-Americanism? Is it anti-Semitism? Is it anti-Zionism where they treat Israel differently?”