Mrs Meir—by Mrs Thatcher
Mrs Margaret Thatcher, Finchley MP and Secretary for Education, told an audience on Monday about her recent meeting with Mrs Golda Meir and other Israeli leaders.
Mrs Thatcher was speaking to about 140 people at the annual meeting of Finchley Anglo-Israel Friendship League, held at Finchley Methodist Church Hall, Ballards Lane.
She said she was told by a friend that her meeting with Mrs Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister, would be of “one tough nut visiting another tough nut.”
But Mrs Thatcher found Mrs Meir to be an outstanding leader “tempered by kindness and humanity.”
Mr Abba Eban, Israeli Foreign Minister, was “one of the world's greatest intellects with a supreme command of the English language.”
Mrs Thatcher said she opened “a great big agricultural trading exhibition” in Jerusalem where the quality of citrus fruits “were better than anything I've known.”
She said: “They put a great deal in their research and get the very best produce … of superb quality and so excellently packaged that the fruit remains good when it reaches England.”
Mrs Thatcher, in the old city of Jerusalem, met Mr Yigal Allon, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education—and saw the beauty of the old city for the first time.
Israel had certain problems in common with other countries in the free world. Students were swinging away from the sciences to the arts; there was “a slight revulsion” with science. The young people were saying that technology mattered less than the humanities.
In Israel's great education debate, people were asking: “At what age do you start education?” and “How much of your resources do you put into higher education?”
Other shared problems were strikes, pollution and environment matters. Israel had problems with crime and with hippies, “which indicates perhaps that the pioneer spirit is ending.”
Israel's building programme, especially in the areas of great historical value, also presented problems.
Mrs Thatcher said: “How far in the opening up of beauty spots do you destroy that which you wish to preserve?
“A degree of commercialism shakes you a bit and it needs a great deal of careful control.”
But, she said, the attitude of the Israeli Government was one of great care for the holy places.
Mr. Albert Tomlinson, chairman, and a former Labour parliamentary candidate for Finchley, said earlier that although many issues divided him from Mrs Thatcher, “the thing which unites us is our friendship with Israel.”
He had been a pioneer in his long association with Israel—which was “a socialist oasis in a feudal wilderness.”
He said: “Israel was set up by a majority vote of the United Nations and all countries should respect that decision.”
A vote of thanks to Mrs Thatcher was proposed by the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Ken Hughes, who was accompanied by the Mayoress. “There is a charge upon us all to promote international understanding,” he said.
The Mayor praised Mrs Thatcher, Finchley Anglo-Israel Friendship League, and the Rev. Leonard Barnett, Minister, for the use of the church hall.
Elections: Mrs Thatcher, president; Mrs Queenie Weber, vice-president; Mr Tomlinson, chairman; Councillor Frank Gibson, vice-chairman; Father Moore O'Ferrall, treasurer, and Mr Michael Grossobel, secretary.