Israel & Jewish History Collection

Sir Martin writes:

Since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in AD 70, the Jews, who were dispersed all over the Roman Empire, had prayed for a return to Zion. ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ was – and remains – the hope expressed at the end of every Passover meal commemorating the ancient exodus from Egypt. For two millennia the dream of such a return seemed a fantasy. Everywhere Jews learnt to adapt to the nations within whose borders they lived. Frequent expulsion to other lands made a new adaptation necessary, and this was done. But Zion, which had been under Muslim rule almost without interruption since the seventh century, and under the rule of the Ottoman Turks since the early sixteenth century, was possible only for a few.

Sir Martin with a Soldier in Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973
Sir Martin with a Soldier in Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973

On This Day: 29 August 1897

“… Herzl was an optimist, and he persevered with his efforts, making contact with Jews all over the world, and enlisting their support for his World Zionist Organisation, committed to creating a Jewish State in Palestine. … On the morning of Sunday 29 August 1897, … Herzl opened the First Zionist Congress, in the Swiss city of Basle.”

Israel, A History

 

Read more about Sir Martin’s inspiration and interest in Israel & Jewish History, his blogs, films and book talks.

Israel: A History

During two millennia the Jews, dispersed all over the world, prayed for a return to Zion. Until the Nineteenth Century, that dream seemed a fantasy. Then a secular Zionist movement was born and soon the initial trickle of Jewish immigrants to Palestine turned into a flood as Jews fled persecution

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Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century

“When the Twentieth Century opened Jerusalem was a small provincial town of the Ottoman Empire, one of the towns furthest from the imperial capital, Constantinople. It had a population of only 70,000, of whom the majority, 45,000, were Jews, and 25,000 were Arabs. As the Twentieth Century draws to a

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Jerusalem: Rebirth of a City

In 1838, Jerusalem was desolate and forsaken, a remote provincial town of the Ottoman Empire which pilgrims visited at their peril.  By 1898, it had been transformed into a modern city in which six European powers – Russia, France, Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy – had each established their political

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Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time

The young Soviet Jewish activist and “refusenik” Anatoly B. Shcharansky (now known as Natan Shcharansky), gained his freedom in February 1986 after nine years in Soviet prisons and labour camps.  This dramatic biography of one of the authentic heroes of our time tells a remarkable story of a fearless young

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