At the age of 12, Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher helped her family hide a young Austrian Jewish refugee from the Nazis. The experience left a permanent mark on her consciousness. It reminded her that the strength of her moral conviction is worth far more than the prevailing wisdom of her generation.
Thatcher, who passed away Monday, served as an inspiration to an entire generation of policy makers and statesmen. The Baroness may have begun her career as a chemist, but it was in politics that she finally found the perfect mixture for the elements of her personality. Long before Israel's Iron Dome began defending Israel's citizens from terror, the Iron Lady was defending Western liberty, freedom, and democracy. While there are certainly leaders who are made by history, Thatcher was one of those rare politicians who made history herself.
In her economic and foreign policies, Thatcher emphasized self-reliance and self-preservation. She saw the forces of freedom being subverted and undermined by the most dangerous of totalitarian ideologies. She had the courage and the chutzpah to speak out against these dangers – even when it was more politically convenient to simply turn a blind eye.
It is no surprise that the Baroness was a great admirer of the State of Israel. Unlike many of her fellow members of Parliament, the Iron Lady had the ability to see Israel for what it was: a bastion of liberty in the world’s greatest hotbed of tyranny. As she herself once put it—in a statement quite fitting for Israel’s upcoming Independence Day—“the political and economic construction of Israel against huge odds and bitter adversaries is one of the heroic sagas of our age.”
Thatcher belonged to a generation of luminaries that is slowly fading. She stood shoulder-to-shoulder with visionaries who never hesitated to stand up for basic values of human decency. Like Winston Churchill, her predecessor, Thatcher had no delusions about the threats that free-loving peoples face – and the steps that a democracy must take to defend itself from those who seek to do it harm.
The international community could use a healthy dose of her moral courage today. As Bashar Assad slaughters his people with impunity, the United Nations continues to inexplicably single out, scrutinize, and demonize the liberal democracy to Syria’s south. As terrorists in Gaza rain rockets down upon Sderot and Ashkelon, the UN Security Council only finds its voice to condemn Israel when it defends itself. As the West spins around in circles on the Iranian nuclear program, the centrifuges in Iran are simply continuing to spin.
It is our generation’s responsibility to pick up the torch of moral clarity that the Baroness set down. It is our responsibility to continue supporting democratic institutions and aspirations in the Middle East. It is our responsibility to continue defending our people and our state from those who seek to take our freedoms away.
Just as the Iron Dome protects Israel’s south, we must protect the Iron Lady’s legacy – and speak out on behalf of the values of Western civilization to which she devoted her life.
The writer is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations and former Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now