Newsletter & Book Club

   May 2016

Israel A History
14 May 1948, The State of Israel is founded

Routledge Atlas of the Second World War
8 May 1945, the Second World War in Europe comes to an end
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Israel A History

Winston Churchill and the foundation of Israel
© Martin Gilbert

Originally published in Jewish Observer and the Middle East Review
as "How Churchill Fought for Zionism
", 26 November 1976

For the first half of this century, during one of the longest active political careers in this country, Winston Churchill was interested and sympathetic to Zionism. Hating tyranny in all its forms, he had reacted strongly against the Tzarist pogroms in the first years of the century and always understood the desperate need of a haven for Jews.
            “I recognise,” he wrote in a private letter on 2 January 1906, “the supreme attraction to a scattered and persecuted people of a safe and settled home under the flag of tolerance and freedom.” Two years later, on 30 January 1908, he wrote in another letter of his sympathy with the “ultimate goal” of the Jewish people. As he explained in his letter: “Jerusalem must be the only ultimate goal. When it will be achieved it is vain to prophesy: but that it will some day be achieved is one of the few certainties of the future.”
        Read More ........      

Great-grandson Randolph Churchill with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at the unveiling of an Oscar Nemon bronze bust of Winston Churchill at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Jerusalem.
4 November 2012; Photograph:  Abir Sultan, EPA

One of my favourite stories Martin told of his travels in Israel was being with the archaeologists Yigal Yadin and Trude Dothan in the late 1970s.  Driving in the car with them, Martin said they would come over a rise and before them stretched a panorama which one or the other scholar would bring to life with intimate knowledge.  Martin never knew which to expect when the car came to a halt:  a battle from Biblical times, or from the Israeli War of Independence.  These are the condensed layers of history in the space of a few miles, a history that Martin has tried to convey in his books, along with the personal recollections and insights of those he met along the way.

During one of his visits to Israel, also in the late 1970s, Martin found himself at a party, and being quite shy, he noticed another young man standing nervously alone.  And so began a friendship with Yitzhak Rabin.  Nearly twenty years later Martin was to guide Rabin around the Churchill War Rooms during a visit Rabin made, as Prime Minister of Israel, to London.  During that visit, that Martin describes so movingly in one of his blog pieces, Martin was able to stir a memory in Rabin that gives insight into the character of both Rabin and Churchill, and became part of the history told in Israel, A History.

Yigal Yadin died in 1984, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, and Trude Dothan died this last January, at the age of 93.  Their stories and perspectives, their scholarship and insights, are among the many Martin was able to weave into his book and into what is known about Israel's first decades.

Read Sir Martin's Blog: Yitzhak Rabin in Churchill’s War Rooms with Sir Martin

New on Sir Martin's Website
View Sir Martin's Films on Israel & Jewish History
Israel: A History
Israel: The Birth of a Nation ( ישראל לידתה של אומה )
Sowing the Seeds of Jewish Statehood: Britain and Palestine, 1909-1922
The Defining Moments in the History of the Jewish People (1998)
Jerusalem: A Microcosm of Jewish Rights

The Israel British Mandate Foreseen in the 19th Century book Elpis Israel
See More.........

Explore the Index, find people, places and events
Israel: A History
Atlas of the Second World War
Book Club Quiz, May 2016

On what page in Israel A History did Hannah Billig devote her life to the poor?

Find the Answer on Sir Martin's website
Click Here

Win a copy of Israel a History
from Sir Martin's private library.

First to answer click here
Congratulations to Avinoam Miller from the USA,
our April 2016 Book Club winner


In 2008 and 2009, I had the truly once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to work for Sir Martin Gilbert. He needed me to type documents that would be published in volumes called “The Churchill Documents.”

The Churchill 21st Century Global Leadership Programme

The aim of the Global Leadership Programme is to pay fitting tribute to Winston Churchill’s legacy as a world statesman, and to put the finger on today’s top level strategic issues. As Phase One of the Global Leadership Campaign culminated with the thrilling publication of the sixteen panel reports from international experts on 13th October 2015, we follow the Programme as it moves apace into 2016.

May 2016
 An historical event in May for each of Sir Martin's book collections
* Churchill Biography * Churchill Collection * First World War *
The Second World War * Holocaust * Israel & Jewish History
20th Century * Historical Atlases *
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