Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Kinloss Synagogue, Finchley
Source: (1) THCR MPs & Peers (Maudling) (2) Finchley Times , 5 December 1975
Editorial comments: 1815 for 1845. Speech to be "just a few minutes: off the cuff" (appointment diary). MT in fact delivered a section from a prepared text which was given to the press, with the purpose of squashing the idea that a recent speech in the Commons by Reggie Maudling amounted to a shift of Conservative policy towards the Arab-Israeli dispute in favour of recognition of the P.L.O. and a “two state solution”.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 821
Themes: Foreign policy (Middle East), Terrorism

(1) Speaking text (extract)

The Conservative Party have always attached immense importance to the achievement of a lasting settlement in the Middle East and a resolution of the problem between the Israelis and the Arabs.

We must never forget how explosive the situation is. [end p1]

Conflict could break out again with incalculable consequences, not only for the Arabs and Israelis, but for the whole of the Western world.

We, therefore, welcome the recent agreement between President Sadat of Egypt, and Prime Minister Rabin of Israel.

This was a great achievement.

But it is only a step on the way. [end p2]

Unless momentum is maintained, and that agreement followed by others, all that has been achieved might be undermined.

So I hope very much that further progress can be made now, involving the Governments of Israel, Syria and Jordan.

I also hope that the recent United Nations Resolution condemning Zionism as a form of racial discrimination will not impede progress.

We are glad that Her Majesty’s Government voted against that wrongful expression of view by the majority of U.N. member countries.

We considerable it will have done nothing to help the cause of peace. [end p3]

The Conservative Party believes, as it has always done, that any settlement must be based upon United Nations Resolution 242.

There is no change of policy.

This Resolution stressed the two fundamental requirements.

“Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in the recent conflict”; and recognition of the right of every State in the area “to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

These two requirements go together.

Mr Maudling, speaking on behalf of the Conservative Party on the 10th November, reaffirmed our adherence to Resolution 242.

He said that it:

“remains the basic text for any lasting settlement in the Middle East.” [end p4]

Mr Maudling also emphasised that there must be “a genuine, effective and lasting guarantee of security before the Israelis can be expected to enter the sort of agreement that we must seek.” [end p5]

Finally, may I make it absolutely clear that the Conservative Party condemns terrorism in whatever form, and whatever cause it purports to serve. [end p6]

(2) Finchley Times report: “Mrs Thatcher pays tribute to Ajex”

A Tribute to the sacrifices made during the war by Jewish Servicemen and women was paid by Opposition Leader Mrs Margaret Thatcher when Finchley and Garden Suburb branch of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women held their annual dinner and dance at Kinloss Synagogue, Finchley, last Thursday.

Mrs Thatcher told her audience of 250, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Barnet, Councillor and Mrs Norman Hirshfield, and Rabbi Dr B. J. Gelles, the synagogue minister, and his wife, that she knew of some of the sacrifices that had been made by people in the association during the wars.

“I remember the sacrifices their families have made and for which you now fight very successfully,” she said.

The Tory leader, who was accompanied by her husband, began her speech on a lighter note by commenting: “How nice it is to eat off British crockery after the House of Commons.”

Then she became more serious, referring to a rumour of change in the Opposition's attitude to the Middle East.

“I have neither authorised, discussed or endorsed any change,” she stated emphatically, to loud cheers. “The party of which I am head condemns terrorism in whatever form and whatever cause it purports to serve.”

The causes of the last war she believed, were the five freedoms—freedom of speech and of worship freedom from want and from fear, and freedom of choice.

“These were the five freedoms the ex-Servicemen fought for during the last war, and since the end of that war there have been more than 40 different hostilities over the world as a whole,” she added.


The association's chairman, Mr Gordon Infield said that 18 per cent of Barnet's electorate were Jewish.

He was glad that Mrs. Thatcher was a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, and had been pleased to see her joining in the singing of the Hatikvah.

Proposing a toast to the association, he detailed some of the work—the defence of Russian Jewry, and work for AJEX House. “If we reach our target tonight our total donations to AJEX charities over the past year will be over £8,000,” he added.


The association's national chairman, Mr Ronald Shelley, paid tribute to Finchley branch as “one of the premier branches of our association with tremendous vitality, verve and singlemindedness of purpose.”

He praised committee members and especially the chairman for his sense of dedication.

Earlier, Mrs Thatcher had joined the branch members and their wives and guests for an eight-course meal.