In My Library

In My Library


Sir Martin Gilbert has written an incredible 82 books and is the official biographer of Winston Churchill. He is recognized as one of the pre-eminent historians of our time. His latest book, In Ishmael’s House, is relatively short (under 400 pages with maps and photos) history of Jews in Muslim lands. His approach is twofold: painting the picture of Jewish life with broad strokes as well as offering smaller portraits of individuals and communities. The result is a highly readable yet fact-filled account that should be essential reading for those interested is better understanding the challenges faced by Israel today in its relationship with the Muslim world along with the larger issue of the perception of Judaism in Islam. Gilbert describes how Jews have alternately been subject to severe discrimination and oppression and acceptance and integration, all the while remaining only a tolerated minority according to the tenets of Islam. The vulnerability of Jews in Muslim lands is highlighted throughout the centuries. Most striking is the fact that despite all the animosity towards Jews, Jewish inhabitants in every Muslim country remained steadfastly loyal and patriotic. Like their coreligionists in central Europe, Jews preferred to remain as long as possible in places in which they were persecuted – even returning to lands from which they were expelled – rather than move on. Unfortunately, Gilbert does not apply his considerable academic skills to solving this mystery.



Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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