web analytics
January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Thatcher Remembered For Befriending UK Jews And Maintaining Strong Ties With Israel


Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

WASHINGTON – 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, her naming of several of their number to Cabinet positions and her determined pushback against anti-Jewish grumbling among the Conservative Party’s backbenchers made what once was unimaginable: 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. After the war was won 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, calling him the “most difficult” man she had to deal with, and pressed Reagan to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, who dealt with Thatcher when he served as prime minister in the 1980s, said her strength served as an example.

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

(JTA)

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 Befriending UK Jews And Maintaining Strong Ties With Israel”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hezbollah rocket headed for Haifa in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Israel Won’t Go to War against Hezbollah because It Can’t Win [video]
Latest News Stories
Hezbollah rocket headed for Haifa in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

“Not wanting to stir things up in the north” means “Yes, we could bomb them to kingdom come, but. no, we won’t.”

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The US condemns Hezbollah’s attack on “IDF forces” but never mentions civilians or terror. Why not?

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

Canada comes out in strong support of Israel as it faces another threat from Iranian Mideast proxy, Hezbollah.

Manot Skulls 1

Professor Israel Hershkovitz (above) of the David-Manot Cave project compares a Neanderthal skull (L) and a Homo Sapiens skull (R), outside the excavation cave in Manot, Western Galilee in Northern Israel, on January 28, 2015. Archaeologists discovered a 55,000-year-old human skull in the Manot cave, which is the earliest fossilized evidence of an anatomically modern human […]

Five IDF soldiers are in Ziv Hospital in Tzefat…

9:31pm The Mt. Hermon ski resort on the Golan Heights will be open for business tomorrow morning — having receiving permission from the IDF. 8:03pm Channel 2 reports that Hezbollah terror cell was located 5 kilometers from Israel, and not within Israel as originally thought.Soldiers in 2nd vehicle were saved after they jumped out of […]

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday night that “whoever is behind today’s attack will pay the full price.”

The Gazans are protesting the freeze in the money transfer from the UN for rehabilitating their region.

Rivlin returning early to Israel from US trip due to situation in northern Israel.

The soldiers were part of an IDF convoy that was using a civilian road, one that hundreds of civilians use on a daily basis.

The GOC Northern Command declares Israel’s northern border with Syria in the Golan Heights to be a closed military zone.

The names of the IDF soldiers killed by Hezbollah at Mount Dov on Wednesday have been released for publication.

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters celebrate IDF deaths Wednesday by giving sweets to motorists.

Two IDF soldiers were killed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the most serious attack on Israel since the start of Syria’s civil war.

Soldiers hit in missile attack were patrolling in non-armored jeeps.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
Hillary Clinton

Clinton derided perceptions that U.S.-Israel tensions had become tense under Obama.

“We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text.”

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.

“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA

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.

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/europe/thatcher-remembered-for-befriending-uk-jews-and-maintaining-strong-ties-with-israel/2013/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: