(Prime Minister 1979-1990, Most lately a movie star, “A natural fit”. Philo-Semitism)
… Aghast that a golf club in her district consistently barred Jews from becoming members, Margaret Thatcher publicly attacked her own party members for supporting the policy. The Jews of Finchley were “her people,” Thatcher remarked – certainly much more so than the wealthy land barons that dominated her party.
… In her desire to change and modernize Britain, Thatcher surrounded herself with bright Jewish advisors: Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman, David Young, Nigel Lawson, Leon Brittan, Victor Rothschild, Malcolm Rifkind, David Wolfson, David Hart, and others.
Margaret Thatcher, the greatest Prime Minister of Britain since Churchill, and one of the great stateswomen of modern times, has been in the news again recently following the success of the film “The Iron Lady” which has already won several awards. Meryl Streep, who plays Thatcher, is expected to be nominated for a best actress Oscar when the short list is announced on Tuesday, and could well win the Oscar next month.
One aspect of Mrs. Thatcher’s world view which is often under-explored (though of course it would not be appropriate in the film) is her philo-Semitism. Unlike many other European politicians, Thatcher was always sympathetic to and admiring of Jews and the state of Israel .
Other papers have also been commenting on this recently. Charles Moore, whose officially authorized biography of Thatcher will be released after her death, told The Jewish Chronicle last week that Thatcher considered Jewish values and Conservatism “a natural fit”. Moore says she was frequently irritated by Anglican leaders “lecturing her on socialist type solutions to everything. She found people like British Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits more congenial in their way of thinking.”
Lord (David) Young of Graffham, who served as Employment minister and then Trade and Industry minister under Mrs. Thatcher said, “Margaret’s affinity for Jews had nothing to do with religion, rather more to do with empathy for the usual first or second-generation immigrants’ drive to better themselves. She liked self-starters, people who would do more than they were asked and particularly those who were in any way entrepreneurial.
“The Cabinet I joined, back in the mid-’80s, was different from any before or since. Of the 21 of us, no less than 11 had started their own business. Secondly, at one time or another, there were five Jews in cabinet, although not all were practicing. “I remember years later, when we were reminiscing with her and her husband Denis, I asked her which was her most memorable overseas visit. ‘ Israel ,’ she replied instantly, ‘it was, Denis, wasn’t it?'”
This is all somewhat different from the atmosphere in Britain today, where there has been a resurgence of anti-Semitism in some quarters. One Conservative MP was recently caught on film attending a Nazi-themed stag party where guests dressed up in SS uniforms and others toasted senior Nazis including Hitler. The Mail on Sunday newspaper reports that the MP in question, Aidan Burley, had ordered the uniforms himself. (Burley has now been disciplined by his own party.)
And last November four Oxford University students were forced to resign from the university’s Conservative association after accusing other members of anti-Semitic behavior. Those who were forced out had exposed other members after they sang a song about “dashing through the Reich” and “killing lots of kike”.
Last week, students at another of Britain’s most prestigious universities, the London School of Economics (LSE), faced censure after playing a “Nazi drinking game” and breaking the nose of a Jewish student who objected. The 20-year-old Jewish student (whose identity is being kept anonymous after he received further threats) had refused to join in with “Sieg Heil salutes to the Führer.” The LSE said they will take disciplinary action against the students.
By Tom Gross
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