Thatcher's secret Falklands plea
Revealed: Maggie asked UK Jews to intervene over Israeli arms deal to Argentina
Newly-declassified official documents reveal that Margaret Thatcher suggested Britain's Jewish community should be used to 'influence the Israelis' after she discovered Prime Minister Menachem Begin was secretly arming Argentina during the Falklands War.
- Miliband: I've No Tolerance with Boycotts
- David Ward Faces Fresh Lib Dem Action Over JN Comments
- Threatened and harassed
Thatcher is recorded as saying at the top-secret meeting: 'There are disturbing reports that Israeli military supplies to Argentina are continuing and might be stepped up. Pressure should be brought to bear on Israel in all appropriate ways, eg through the Jewish community in Britain and through investigative journalism.'
Israeli arms exports to General Galtieri were previously known. However, the papers show for the first time that the British government actively sought to use the nation's Jewish community as a foreign policy tool.
Thatcher's idea came on the back of intelligence reports at the time which showed Israel covertly supplied 23 advanced Mirage IIIC fighter jets to Argentina's military junta. The aircraft were provided alongside other military hardware, including air-to-air missiles, anti-tank mines, mortars, bombs and machine guns.
The declassified papers further detail Thatcher's parallel efforts to influence the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Morocco to stem the flow of weapons to South America during the 1982 hostilities.
Thatcher, who regarded Finchley's Jewish residents as 'her people', fostered close links to Israel and the Jewish community.
She became a founding member of the Anglo-Israel Friendship League of Finchley as well as a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel.
There is, however, no indication that any serious efforts were made to encourage Britain's Jewish community to influence Israel's export policy, nor that there would have been sufficient leverage within the community to do so at the time.
In the event, the French-made aircraft only arrived after the Argentine surrender, smuggled in via Lima and camouflaged with the insignia of Peru.
Nevertheless, speculation has continued as to Israel's motives.
Hernan Dobry, author of a book on Israeli-Argentine relations at the time of the Falklands War, has suggested the Israeli exports were motivated by Menachem Beginís deep-rooted hatred of the British.
This, contends Dobry, stemmed from the death of Begin's close friend, Dov Gruner, who was captured and subsequently hanged in 1947 when Britain administered Palestine.
- Archbishop Exclusive: 'My Cousin The Rabbi' - 21/03/13
- Opinion: As Charedim, We Must Take Responsibility For Ourselves - 18/03/13
- Opinion: The Joy And Tears Of Marrying 'In' To The Jewish Community - 18/03/13
- Opinion: Shared Parenting - One Size Definitely Does Not Fit All - 18/03/13
- Opinion: At Pesach, Let Us Remember Our Obligation To Others - 18/03/13
- Opinion: Hamas Scurrying From Peace Like Cockroaches From Light - 18/03/13
- We Team Up With Tzedek To Help Fight Poverty - 14/03/13
- Blair speaks of Israel friendship as he opens new Mill Hill shul centre - 14/03/13
- Miliband: 'My Debt To Israel' - 14/03/13
- Coalition Marks 'Direction Change' for Israeli Politics - 14/03/13
- 'This Place Is A Life-Saver' London's Only Kosher Soup Kitchen - 08/03/13
- Another Shabbat On The Streets - 08/03/13
- Opinion: Was The ZF Right To Reject Yachad? ... NO - 07/03/13
- Opinion: Was The ZF Right To Reject Yachad? ... YES - 07/03/13