Gordon Brown has praised renowned Jewish historian Sir Martin Gilbert’s contribution to Britain.
The former Prime Minister opened a library in the writer’s honour at Sir Martin’s former school, Highgate, in north London, on Tuesday.
Mr Brown said: “Some people are born great but are not necessarily good. Others are good people but don’t have the opportunity to be great. Sir Martin is that rare thing, a great man, a good man, and this library is a tremendous celebration of what he has achieved in his life.”
Reflecting on a trip to Israel made in Sir Martin’s company, Mr Brown said: “I saw at first-hand how he wanted to see the world coming together. He is optimistic about the future, a true citizen of the world and a great humanitarian.”
Sir Martin, Winston Churchill’s official biographer, had aided Mr Brown’s predecessors as well, he added: “Through his expertise, he helped Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair. He also helped me and was always available, believing that the best outcomes are possible if we are able to learn lessons from history.”
Lady Gilbert said her husband had worked closely with Mr Brown on the politician’s two books about courage.
“These are two men who view humanity with a similar perspective, a similar belief in education,” she said.
Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub, said it was appropriate that the unveiling of the library should take place on Yom Ha’atzmaut. “I can’t think of an honour more appropriate than naming a library, to inspire and educate young people, for him,” he said.
Sir Martin, the author of more than 80 books, including seminal works on Israel and the Holocaust, was unable to attend the event due to ill health.
He has said his school days had given him “confidence, and they instilled in me a love of learning which I hope I shall never lose”.