Jewish community pays tribute to Margaret Thatcher
Shimon Peres with Margaret Thatcher (Photo: Yaakov Saar/GPO)
Tributes have been pouring in from Anglo-Jewry in memory of the late British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Baroness Thatcher, who died on Monday at the age of 87, was described as "a giant who had a transformative impact on Britain" by chief rabbi Lord Sacks.
He added: "I first got to know her early on in my life when she was the local MP. She was loved and admired by many in the Jewish community who will miss her deeply. Few people in my lifetime have left such a personal imprint on British life."
"She was always extremely supportive and admiring of the ethos of the British Jewish community," said Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies. "This close relationship began when her family took in a young Austrian Jewish refugee from Nazism in the late 1930s. When she entered Parliament as MP for Finchley, a very Jewish constituency, her relationship with local Jewish institutions blossomed and continued throughout her illustrious career as Prime Minister.
"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. She also greatly admired the late Chief Rabbi Dr Immanuel Jakobovits whom she elevated to the House of Lords. She was unquestionably a great statesman of the later 20th Century, and one who was a friend to the Jewish people and Israel."
"Margaret Thatcher was always a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish community. Her staunch defence of freedom and liberty perhaps explains her genuine admiration of Israel as the only democracy in an autocratic region; something that she felt should be fought for and protected," said Stuart Polak, director of Conservative Friends of Israel.
"Britain has lost a great leader but her legacy will never be forgotten."
Lord Sugar, a Labour peer, posted on Twitter that Baroness Thatcher was "a great lady".
He added: "She changed the face of British politics, created opportunity for anyone to succeed in the UK. RIP."
Conservative MP Robert Halfon described her as one of our greatest leaders. "Truly great people come along once a generation," he said. "Her influence on the Conservative Party as a whole is almost unparalleled."
Party chairman and fellow Jewish MP Grant Shapps added: "Margaret was an incredible woman, with the bravery to lead where others could only follow."
Daniel Peltz, chairman of Technion UK, spoke of the Prime Minister's strong links with the Israeli institution, including that she was awarded an honorary degree in 1989.
"She was an inspirational leader, whose passion for science and technology, and the friendship she extended to the State of Israel will not be forgotten."
The Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, sent a letter to Baroness Thatcher's children to express his deep condolences. He said: "For her strong support for Israel, for the way in which she epitomised the values of freedom and democracy that our two countries hold so dear, and in memory of her remarkable life, we mourn with you and the British people on this solemn day."
From Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences. "She was a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength, a woman of greatness," he said. "She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders.
"I send my most sincere condolences to her family and to the government and people of Great Britain."
President Shimon Peres added: There are people, there are ideas. Occasionally those two come together to create vision.
"Baroness 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."
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For coverage of Margaret Thatcher's life and career, click here