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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

October 26, 2002

Iron Lady Speaks

Friends don't forget friends and speak out for Israel
Former prime minister Lady Thatcher urged the world not to forget that “Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East” in a rare address at the Commonwealth Jewish Council (CJC) annual awards dinner this week.

The 77-year-old, who suffered a series of strokes earlier this year that forced her to limit public engagements, spoke to more than 150 ambassadors and Jewish leaders at the event in central London.

She said: “The security of the State of Israel affects our security. Israel may be in the front line of terror, but the west is not far behind.

“After what happened on September 11 last year and the tragedy in Bali, it is clear that the forces of evil have everyone of us in their sight.”

Praising the work of the CJC, which she helped established 20 years ago, Lady Thatcher added: “Because Jewish people now live in so many different countries, this international organisation is vital to their well being –particularly with the consequences of extremism which falsely cloaks itself in religion.”

The baroness also praised the Jewish community of Gibraltar, which received the CJC’s annual award for their “generosity of spirit” in a year fraught with political uncertainty.

She also urged Britain to stand by the Rock, like Israel’s friends have stood by her.

Lady Thatcher, once described as the Iron Lady by political opponents, said: “Governments talk a great deal about democracy, but if neither Spain nor Britain allow the people of Gibraltar to decide their own future, it will be a sorry reflection on what we owe the people of the Rock.”