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May 05, 1989 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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38

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 1989

day celebrated the tenth an-
niversary of her accession to
power.
This
extraordinary
milestone in an altogether ex-
traordinary career has,
predictably, provided the occa-
sion for an extravaganza of
books, newspaper articles and
television documentaries on
the "Iron Lady."
Less predictable in this
mediafest, however, has been
the attention focussed on one
particular phenomenon of her
reign: "Thatcher's Jews." In-
deed, the Jewish contribution
to the Thatcher Revolution
will merit more than a foot-
note in British history books.
It is not altogether surpris-
ing that Britain's tough and
hugely successful prime
minister should have close
ties with the Jewish com-
munity. Her parliamentary
constituency is the heavily-
Jewish London borough of
Finchley, and political good
sense would dictate that she
demonstrate friendship
toward Israel and work hard
for Soviet Jewry.
But Margaret Thatcher's
affinity for Jews has
transcended political expe-
diency. When she talks of
Soviet Jewry, the tears she
weeps are genuine; more im-
portant, when she addresses
economic and political issues,
her instincts and philosophy
coincide almost precisely with
the instincts and philosophy
that prevail among a large
section of British Jewry.
"It is not so much a matter
of Thatcher leading and the
Jews following," one Jewish
banker in London told me
this week. "On the contrary,
the Jews have set the pace for
Thatcher."
What has startled the
British media is that the
leader of Britain's Conser-
vative Party, which
newspaper columnist Ian
Aitken describes as having a
"more than average number
of anti-Semites," has given
such public expression to her
affinities.
Thatcher was not content,
as were her predecessors, to
hide her retinue of "court
Jews" in government think-
tanks and policy committees,
carefully shielded from the
public gaze.

Thatcher has brought "her
Jews" out of the closet. No
less than five of her most
senior ministers — and clo-
sest advisers — have been
Jews: Education Secretary
Keith Joseph, Home
Secretary Leon Brittan,
Trade Secretary Lord Young,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Nigel Lawson and Scottish
Secretary Malcolm Rifkind.
It was a phenomenon that
moved one former British
Prime Minister to remark
that there were more Old
Estonians in Thatcher's

Margaret Thatcher

cabinet than Old Etonians —
a reference to the ancient
British school of the
aristocracy which has tradi-
tionally educated Britain's
future leaders.
Of Thatcher's Jews, only
Lawson, Young and Rifkind
remain in their posts: the rest
have been elevated to higher,
even more powerful, positions.
Brittan, now Sir Leon, has
become the British Commis-
sioner at the European Com-
munity; Joseph, now Lord
Joseph and widely considered
to have been the architect of
the Thatcher Revolution, re-
mains Thatcher's "guru,"
while Lord Young is being
groomed for the immensely
powerful job of chairman of
the Conservative Party.
Moreover, according to One
of Us, the much-admired,
much-quoted biography of the
Iron Lady by journalist Hugo
Young, Britain's Chief Rabbi
Immanuel Jakobovitz has re-
placed the Archbishop of
Canterbury — head of the
Anglican Church — as "the
spiritual leader of Thatcher's
Britain."
Thatcher has made no
secret of her admiration for
the Chief Rabbi's up-by-the-
bootstraps ethic of self-help,

hard work, community ser-
vice and devotion to family.
Last year, she gave expres-
sion to this high regard by
elevating the Jewish religious
leader to the ranks of nobili-
ty. He now glories in the title
Lord Jakobovitz — a title un-
qiue for a Chief Rabbi.
"The entrepreneurially suc-
cessful Jew is in fact the
model in many ways of That-
cherite achievement,". says
Jewish playwright Jonathan
Miller. "The Conservative
Party now underwrites the
values of Jewish en-
trepreneurial initiative, thrift
and ingenuity."
This was not always the
case. Historically, British
Jews were identified firmly
with the mildly socialist
Labor Party. It was a natural
home for working-class im-
migrants who not only felt
that Labor policies reflected
their own interests, but who
also believed that Judaism's
demand for social justice was
best expressed by the social-
democratic values Labor
espoused.
It helped that most of the
Labor Party's leaders were
also staunchly and warm-
heartedly pro-Israel and well-
disposed to the Jewish com-
munity. Jews and the Labor
Party went together, just as
Jews in the United States
found a natural home in the
Democratic Party.
Time and Thatcher broke
the mold. The immigrant
tailors and shopkeepers in
London's impoverished East
End gave birth to a genera-
tion of doctors, lawyers, ac-
countants and bankers. And
in the past 20 years they have
effortlessly relocated
themselves and their life-
styles in the affluent, genteel
suburbs of North London.
For them, the priorities are
not welfare benefits, socializ-
ed health and state educa-
tion, but the creation of
wealth. The wholesale shift
into Margaret Thatcher's
arms was also helped by the
strident anti-Israel rhetoric,
tinged with anti-Semitism, of
Labor's neo-Marxist "loony
left" (Labor's current
"shadow" Foreign Secretary,
Jewish-born Gerald Kauf-
man, recently visited PLO
leader Yassir Arafat in his
Tunis headquarters and
declared his support for the
intifada).
Jewish names are promi-
nent in the media, the arts,
show business, academia, in-
dustry and the professions. A
list of Britain's 200 wealthiest •

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