Margaret Thatcher, one of the greats (& Hamas fires rocket at Holocaust memorial service)

April 08, 2013


Margaret Thatcher prepares for victory in the 1983 general election



[Note by Tom Gross]

In many respects, Margaret Thatcher, who died today, was one of the greatest political leaders of our lifetime. She was certainly the greatest British Prime Minister since Churchill, and one of the most important leaders of the Western world.

Obviously her attitudes towards Israel and Jews were not the most significant aspects of her legacy, but they were notable nonetheless.

In January last year, I sent out a dispatch about her, which those interested, can read again here.

Among the points in it:

* “When asked about her most meaningful accomplishment, Margaret Thatcher did not typically mention serving in the British government, defeating the Argentine invasion of the Falklands, taming runaway inflation, or toppling the Soviet Union. The woman who reshaped British politics and served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 often said that her greatest accomplishment was helping save a 17-year-old Austrian Jewish girl from the Nazis.”

* Thatcher had no patience for anti-Semitism. “I simply did not understand it,” Thatcher wrote in her memoirs. Indeed, she found “some of my closest political friends and associates among Jews.” Aghast that a golf club in her district [Finchley in north London] consistently barred Jews from becoming members, she publicly attacked her own Conservative 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 until then.

* Lord Young of Graffham, who served as a senior cabinet minister under Mrs. Thatcher (and is also a subscriber to this email list) said: “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?’”

Margaret Thatcher with Yitzhak Shamir, who also died recently, in Jerusalem in 1986



Israeli President Shimon Peres said today: “There are people, there are ideas. Occasionally those two come together to create vision. Lady Thatcher was an exceptional leader, a colleague in the international arena and a friend for me personally. She served as an inspiration for other leaders, as the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain she broke new ground. She showed how far a person can go with strength of character, determination and a clear vision.

“She was a true and dedicated friend of Israel, who stood with us in times of crisis and used her influence to help us in trying to make peace. During our negotiations with Jordan in the late 1980s, she stood as a mediator and a source of wisdom for me and the King of Jordan.”


* Thatcher was right about so many things. For example, she was the only leading politician in Europe who opposed the single currency. As it turns out, she was right. The YouTube videos in this link are worth watching.

* Here is a comprehensive tribute to Margaret Thatcher in The Wall Street Journal by leading British historian Paul Johnson.

* The Economist magazine said today: Only a handful of peace-time politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher, who died this morning, was one.

* In the 1960s, Thatcher was one of only a handful of Conservative MPs to vote for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

* So, duly vetted by MI5, Carl was chosen to work on what has been called the greatest hair in British politics (pre-Boris, that is)

* Tweet today by Jonah Goldberg: No chance of Heaven going wobbly now.



A rocket fired from Gaza by the terror group Hamas strikes the south of Israel while a community mourns for lost relatives at a Holocaust memorial service last night.


At 10 am this morning, all Israel paused for a two-minute siren in remembrance of those murdered in the Holocaust



Today, the “March of the Living” at the site of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland was led by the Commander in Chief of the Israeli army, Benny Gantz. Gantz, whose mother Malka was a child survivor of Bergen-Belsen death camp, walked into Auschwitz hand in hand with his counterpart, the head of the Polish army, and vowed that Israel’s army would prevent the Jews from ever suffering another Holocaust.

Gantz was joined by Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, himself a child survivor of Auschwitz, and some 10,000 other participants, many of them young people, on the three-kilometer walk from Birkenau this afternoon.

Earlier, participants watched a video message from Israeli President Shimon Peres, who said that the Jewish population of the world has not recovered from the Holocaust, and its numbers are still less than they were on the eve of World War II. “The pain, the wound, the lacking is still there. They live inside us. We live from what happened to them,” Peres said.

* Yesterday’s Holocaust memorial dispatch can be read here:

A rare BBC recording from 1945: Survivors in Belsen sing Hatikvah (& “No Place on Earth”).


* Thanks to Michael Warren at The Weekly Standard and all those others who linked to this dispatch.

* Thanks to former Pentagon official Michael Rubin at Commentary and all those others who linked to the previous dispatch.

* You can comment on this dispatch here: Please also press “Like” on that page.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.