Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a friend of Israel despite a rocky relationship with Menachem Begin, has died. She honored the Rebbe's "inspiration."
By COLlive and news wires
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had a good relatinship with England's Jewish community and was considered a good friend of Israel despite a rocky relationship with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, has died.
Thatcher died Monday after suffering a stroke. She was 87.
The only female to serve as prime minister of Britain, she also was the longest continuously serving prime minister in the 20th century, leading the country and her Conservative Party from 1979 to 1990.
Thatcher was supportive of Israel but had a troubled relationship with Begin, who served two terms in the 1980s, JTA reported. She called Begin the "most difficult" man she had to deal with, according to the Chronicle. She also strongly opposed Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.
"She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "She was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength; a woman of greatness."
Netanyahu, who has often mentioned her as a role model, added that Thatcher has "inspired a generation of political leaders."
Thatcher had a strong relationship with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and together they fought communism, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Her Cabinets included several Jewish members, including Nigel Lawson, Malcolm Rifkind, Keith Joseph and Leon Brittan, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
Britain's outgoing Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has said: "Baroness Thatcher was a giant who had a transformative impact on Britain. 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."
Lady Thatcher, who visited Lubavitch schools in London and was supportive of the Lubavitch Shluchim, spoke with JEM in 1992, about the Rebbe's leadership.
"I honor the Rabbi and the work he's done, and the example he set, and the inspiration therefore that he's given to many many people and will continue to give," she said in video remarks.
The house where Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham * Photo: Thorvaldsson
Ronald Reagan's Cabinet and Margaret Thatcher's Ministry meet in the White House Cabinet Room in 1981
G-7 Economic Summit in Williamsburg, Virginia (from left) Pierre Trudeau, Gaston Thorn, Helmut Kohl, François Mitterrand, Ronald Reagan, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Margaret Thatcher & Amintore Fanfani
Margaret Thatcher bids farewell after a visit to the United States in 1981 * Photo: Williams, U.S. Military
President George H. W. Bush awards Thatcher with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor * Photo: George Bush Presidential Library
Lubavitch UK presents Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a Chanukah Menorah at 10 Downing Street