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: 1 June 1941

The beginning of the Farhud, the Iraqi pogrom against its Jewish community: “… the Farhud marked the beginning of the end of the vibrant life of Iraqi Jewry: 178 Jews had been murdered in Baghdad and nine outside the city. Several Muslims who had tried to come to the defence of their Jewish neighbours were also murdered. Several hundred Jewish women and young girls were raped. More than 240 Jews were orphaned and at least two thousand Jews were badly wounded. In addition, 911 Jewish homes and 586 Jewish-owned shops and stores were looted, as were four ancient synagogues.”

In Ishmael’s House, A History of Jews in Muslim Lands

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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