The Jewish Press notes with sadness the passing of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. A member of Britain’s Conservative Party, she was the longest serving British prime minister since the early 19th century, leading her party to three electoral victories starting in 1979.
She was lauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres as a staunch and loyal friend of Israel who stood by the Jewish state in times of need. She was known for her support of the Soviet Jewry movement and her disdain for anti-Semitism.
Prior to becoming prime minister, Ms. Thatcher as a member of parliament represented the heavily Jewish district of Finchley and developed relationships with the Jewish community as well as several of its institutions. A founding member of Finchley’s Anglo-Israel Friendship League, she had a number of Jews as her closest advisers and at one point nearly a quarter of her cabinet was of Jewish origin.
In a revealing comment, Ms. Thatcher said she considered her efforts at helping save a young Austrian girl from the Nazis her greatest accomplishment. And she cut to the chase when asked about her understanding of the Middle East: “Israel must never be expected to jeopardize her security: if she was ever foolish enough to do so, and then suffered for it, the backlash against both honest brokers and Palestinians would be immense – ‘land for peace’ must also bring peace.”
Would that more Margaret Thatchers were found in office in capitals around the world.