Sir Martin's Newsletter & Bookclub July 2020
One mans meate, is another mans poyson
Thomas Middleton,1604, after Lucretius
Sir Martin's July Books
Sir Martin's history of the Jews in letters sent to his adopted Indian Aunt
Mapping the history of the United States including the struggle for Civil Rights
For discount, enter DC 360
        at checkout. 
Sir Martin's Blog
SSmashing Statues – the Biblical Precedent
Letters to Auntie Fori, an excerpt
 625 words/3 minute read
Dearest Auntie Fori,
According to the Biblical chronology, Abram, the son of Terah (later known as Abraham), was born in Mesopotamia, some four thousand years ago.  His birthplace was the town of Ur, on the River Euphrates, less than two hundred miles from the head of the Persian Gulf, at the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent, which stretched as far as Canaan on the Mediterranean Sea.  From the social system described in Genesis, scholars deduce that the story of Abraham took place around 2000 BC.  The BC-AD dating, incidentally, is the Christian one, Before Christ and Anno Domini, the Year of the Lord.  In recent years Jews have come increasingly to refer BCE and CE – Before the Christian Era, and the Common Era.
As a young man, Abraham turned against the idols worshipped by his tribe, one of many small communities of farmers and shepherds.  According to rabbinic tradition, when he found himself alone with the idols of his father he took hold of an axe, smashed all but the largest, and then, in a gesture of contempt, rested the axe on the arm of the largest idol.  (Continue Reading)

A Soviet-era statue of Lenin in the tiny hamlet of Zaverichchya, Rivne Oblast, Ukraine, with Ukrainian post-independence commentary, August 2011.

              From Esther Gilbert                                                        
Memorials and Narratives
 900 words/4 minute read

There's a story of two Jews who are arguing over a particular dispute.  Not getting anywhere toward resolution, they agree to take their dispute to the rabbi to be settled.  The first presents his case and the rabbi thinks it over very carefully and says:  “You're right.”  The second presents his case and the rabbi, thinking it over also very carefully, says:  “You're right.”  Whereupon the rabbi's assistant, who had witnessed this exchange says:  “But wait, they can't both be right?”  And to this, the rabbi responds:  “You are also right!”
The story comes to mind with the discussions in many countries about the historical figures who are portrayed in statues that present them as heroes.  “But wait,” many people say, questioning the view that though the figures may have been heroes to some people, they were perpetrators to others, and maybe even their heroism came at the expense of the evil they inflicted on others.  Who is right?  (Continue Reading)


Postage stamps memorialising two Ukrainians from a postcard Martin sent during our 2011 Ukraine visit.  Martin wrote:  "Hope you like my juxtaposition of Stefan Bandera - whose men killed tens of thousands of Jews in this region (Volhynia) - and dear old Shalom Aleichem."  Bandera is now viewed as a Ukrainian national hero; Shalom Aleichem, also from Ukraine, is the pen-name of one of the great Yiddish writers whose stories of Tevye the Dairyman became Fiddler on the Roof.
Read Gilbert
OpenDor Media is producing a series of films being released on their YouTube channel, Unpacked, based on Sir Martin's book Letters to Auntie Fori.  The series will cover Jewish history in a similar way to how he presented it in his book.  The launch was on June 29 and new films will go live every other Monday.  This segment, below, describes Sir Martin's relationship with Fori Nehru and how the book came to be written. 
Click here to watch the video
Sir Martin in the News
The Article,, “How Churchill might have won the war in 1940,” by Daniel Johnson, posted 9 June 2020:
“Volunteers did not take long to clean off the graffiti daubed by Black Lives Matter protestors on the plinth of Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square. Public art has always been vandalised by iconoclasts; if effigies of heroes and villains did not arouse strong feelings, who would bother to erect them?
“More serious than the damage to Ivor Roberts-Jones’s bronze is the question of Churchill’s reputation, which is yet again under the spotlight. In a career lasting some seventy years, the 'Greatest Briton' (as many see him) inevitably did many things that were controversial at the time or have become so since. The Bengal famine, which now looms so large on the charge sheet of his detractors, went unmentioned in the thousand pages of the 1991 Churchill, A Life by his official biographer Martin Gilbert. Similarly, the bombing of Dresden is now used by some critics to depict him as a war criminal. What can be said with confidence is that while Churchill’s judgement was often erratic, his motives were almost invariably above reproach. His failures were as spectacular as his successes, but even in defeat his audacity commands respect. His enemies denounced him as a warmonger, but his aim was always to shorten the war. Churchill loved life too much to be careless with the lives of others.”
For more on the Bengal Famine and Churchill, please see
“Gideon Polya dismisses all who disagree with him, including Sir Martin Gilbert, as Zionist propagandists. Since it’s always a good idea to question the accused, we asked Sir Martin. 'Churchill was not responsible for the Bengal Famine,' he replied. 'I have been searching for evidence for years: none has turned up. The 1944 Document volume of the official biography will resolve this issue finally.'”
For more on the bombing of Dresden, please see “Book Excerpt” on:

Churchill, A Life

Read more Web Citings 

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Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre
“Anti-Semitism, Jews and the Left” a 6-week course beginning September 4, with Professor Shirli Gilbert
and Derek Spitz, a barrister who is involved with the
Equality and Human Right Commission's Inquiry in to Antisemitism in the Labour Party
For more information on upcoming events:
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