web analytics
August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Thatcher Remembered for her Affection for Britain’s Jews


3786827108

WASHINGTON (JTA) — History will remember former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for relentlessly facing down communism and helping to turn back more than three decades of socialist advance in her country.

But it was Thatcher’s embrace of British Jews and insistent promotion of Jews in her Conservative Party that inspired an outpouring of tributes from Jewish and Israeli leaders following her death Monday at 87.

Thatcher, who suffered from dementia in her later years, died peacefully after suffering a stroke, her spokesperson said.

Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister, from 1979 to 1990, helped thrust Britain back onto the international stage following its post-World War II years of end-of-empire angst and political turmoil.

For the country’s Jews, however, the naming of at least five of their number to Cabinet positions and her determined pushback against anti-Jewish grumbling among the Conservative Party’s backbenchers made what once was laughable imaginable: the possibility of a Jewish prime minister.

“Lady Thatcher was always extremely supportive and admiring of the ethos of the British Jewish community,” Vivian Wineman, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told JTA.

Wineman said the mutual admiration was rooted in personal history. In the 1930s, Thatcher’s family took in an Austrian Jewish refugee. In 1959, Thatcher was elected to Parliament representing Finchley, a north London constituency with a large Jewish population.

“She counted a number of Jews among her closest advisers and confidants, and at one point nearly a quarter of her Cabinet were of Jewish origins,” Wineman said.

Moshe Maor, a Hebrew University political science professor whose expertise is Britain, said Thatcher admired the British Jewish community’s self-reliance, an ethos she embraced as she dedicated herself to weaning Britons off public assistance.

“Thatcher admired hard work, and the Jewish community was not dependent on the state,” Maor said. “It was structured in such a way that Jews help others in their community. That was the culture Thatcher tried to advance.”

It was one also embraced by Britain’s late chief rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits, whom Thatcher elevated to the House of Lords. Frustrated by protests among Christian leaders of the rapid pace of her economic reforms, she increasingly turned for spiritual reinforcement to Jakobovits, who became widely known as “Thatcher’s rabbi.”

Thatcher’s rule coincided with social changes among the country’s 350,000 Jews. Once proudly working class, British Jews by the 1980s had become increasingly middle class, more likely to be self-employed and alarmed at the leftward lurch of the leadership in the Labor Party.

“She got on quite well with Jews,” Wineman said. “She said once that she thought she probably had more constituents in Tel Aviv than in Finchley.”

Thatcher never hesitated to advance the careers of talented young Jews in her party — among them Leon Brittan, a secretary of trade; Nigel Lawson, a chancellor of the exchequer; Edwina Currie, a health minister; Malcolm Rifkind, a secretary of state for Scotland; and Michael Howard, a secretary of employment.

Rifkind went on to become foreign minister. Howard became home secretary and then opposition leader, burying forever the notion that a British leader had to come from the country’s official faith, Anglicanism.

Thatcher’s embrace of the Jewish community did not make its romance with the Tories a permanent one. Tony Blair’s purges of the Labor left after his 1997 election helped draw back some Jewish voters. But Howard’s precedent helped set the stage for ascension of the current leader of the Labor Party, Ed Miliband, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants.

Thatcher also earned kudos for her robust foreign policy and maintaining strong ties with Israel at a time of tension between the Jewish state and other European nations.

“She was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength; a woman of greatness,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Monday. “She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders.”

Thatcher restored the notion of Britain shining everywhere the sun rose when she launched a war in 1982 to keep Argentina from claiming the Falkland Islands. The war won — and the days of Argentina’s autocracy of the generals numbered — Thatcher was ready to take on the mantle of Iron Lady vs. Iron Curtain. She became President Ronald Reagan’s indispensable partner in squeezing the life out of Soviet hegemony.

In 1983, she told leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement that she would do “absolutely everything” to support their cause, which dovetailed with her revulsion of communism.

Thatcher did not shy away from taking on Israeli leaders. She tussled with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin over his refusal to deal with Palestinian leaders and the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, calling him the “most difficult” man she had to deal with.

In the mid-1980s, she worked Shimon Peres, then the head of a fractious national unity government, to reach a peace agreement with Jordan, but it was scuttled by Begin’s successor as Likud leader, Yitzhak Shamir. Thatcher also pressed Reagan to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization, suasions that bore fruit when the president recognized the group during his final months in office in 1988.

Peres, now Israel’s president, said Thatcher’s strength served as an example.

“She showed how far a person can go with strength of character, determination and a clear vision,” he said.

(Cnaan Liphshiz contributed to this article.)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Thatcher Remembered for her Affection for Britain’s Jews”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US Marines walk a city street in Fallujah, heavily damaged by the fighting. (2004)
Netanyahu Says Making Gaza ‘Israel’s Fallujah’ Was Too High a Price
Latest News Stories
US Marines walk a city street in Fallujah, heavily damaged by the fighting. (2004)

Israel is better off with a weak Hamas rather than a dead Hamas, for the time being, says Netanyahu.

Two mortars landed close to the Israel-Syrian border/cease-fire lines in the Eastern Golan Heights

Growing anti-Semitism is Israel;s fault according to a chaplain at Yale.

If Israel would just not exists, and if Jews would stop being Jewish, there would be no anti-Semitism in the world.

Jewish comedienne Joan Rivers .

Doctors are hopeful but worried. Her daughter Melissa is an “emotional wreck.”

We wish him a speedy recovery and a lifetime of laryngitis.

The FIlipino UN troops were successfully extracted by Irish UN troops from the Syrian rebel siege.

Joan Rivers, 81, is in an induced coma following throat surgery on Thursday. Rivers suffered a heart attack during surgery.

With new neighbors along our Syrian border, we thought we’d check out what they’re saying and what’s going on…

We wish a speedy recovery to Joan Rivers, the straight-shooting Jewish comedienne whose exact analysis of the war was, “Hamas started it.”

An IDF soldier who was critically injured last week by a rocket that hit Ashdod died from his wounds today. He is Israel’s 71st casualty in the war. Sergeant Natanel Maman, 21, from Gan Yavne, an Ordnance Corps soldier, was critically injured by a rocket that hit Ashdod last Friday. He was promoted posthumously from […]

More than 200,000 Muslims live in Michigan. Fifty of them showed up for a protest against ISIS.

Sofer, who may have died from dehydration after falling in a ravine while hiking, is being buried in Beit Shemesh.

The Boycott Israel movement, so far, is more bark than bite.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

Netanyahu gets support from Congressmen on House Armed Services Committee

Some Chareidi entertainers thrilled the crowd on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street with some Jewish entertainment.    

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Secretary of State Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

“As we have since the beginning of the process, we continue to support Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a secure and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in a statement to JTA.

WASHINGTON – Until recently, the rule of thumb in the pro-Israel community was that the bigger the academic group, the less likely it was to consider a boycott of Israeli colleagues.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/thatcher-remembered-for-her-affection-for-britains-jews/2013/04/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: