“As Martin Gilbert suggests in his consistently absorbing Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship, there have been few figures in high office in any country who not only admire the Jews for their unique qualities—‘the spirit of their faith and race’ as well as their ‘peculiar genius’—but who also were able to accept them as a people apart, deserving not only tolerance but genuine respect for their differences . . . Churchill and the Jews brings together two of Martin Gilbert’s persistent passions: Among his vast output, he has written an eight-volume biography of Churchill and at least as many books on various aspects of Judaism, ranging from histories of Israel to histories of the Holocaust. This book reflects his gifts—he is a demon researcher, drawing on a trove of private correspondence, archival material, and previously unpublished government documents . . . [Gilbert’s] assessment is an accurate one.”—Daphne Merkin, The Sun"This appreciative study traces Winston Churchill's lifelong relationship with Jews and with Israel from the great British statesman's youth through his death in 1965. Written by Churchill's official biographer, the volume is characteristically comprehensive and well written, complete with illustrations and maps. It proceeds chronologically, provides ample context, and, insofar as possible, relies on Churchill's own words. It also reveals much concerning the antisemitism of Churchill's peers. The volume complements but does not duplicate Michael Makovsky's Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft . . . Together, these volumes greatly enhance understanding of Churchill's relationship with the Jewish people and his complex Zionist sympathies. Summing up: Recommended."—J. D. Sarna, Brandeis University, Choice"British historian and Churchill biographer Gilbert explores the great statesman's early, fervent support of Zionism and wartime pleas to save the Jews from Nazi persecution. Churchill believed the Jews, thanks to Moses and the code of conduct he received at Mt. Sinai, 'grasped and proclaimed an idea of which all the genius of Greece and all the power of Rome were incapable.' Continuing his father Randolph's friendship with prominent British Jews such as Lord Rothschild, Churchill, as a young MP in 1904, became a vocal critic of the Aliens Bill restricting Jewish immigration from Tsarist Russia. As Home Secretary, he dispatched troops to restore order after the pogrom at Tredegar, South Wales. Early on, he became friendly with the one who would most shape Zionist policy, Chaim Weizmann, the Manchester chemist whom he enlisted during World War I to manufacture explosives for British ammunition. While supporting the Balfour Declaration, Churchill was deeply wary of Bolshevism as representing the 'bad' Jews. Indeed, he hoped that Zionism would work to counterbalance Jewish Bolshevik sympathies. Churchill visited the Holy Land, excoriated Islam as a 'retrograde force' and lobbied against restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine, especially as Arab resistance grew and Nazi persecution of the Jews gained force. Regarding the rise of the Nazis, Churchill demonstrated extraordinary prescience as early as 1933 and continually warned in speeches and writings of the impending menace. He led the debate against Partition and called the MacDonald White Paper (devising a policy in Palestine of permanent Arab majority) a 'shameful act of appeasement.' Gilbert diligently pursues Churchill's attempts to save Jews throughout the war, his disillusionment with Jewish terrorism and failure to bring up the future of Palestine at Potsdam. The author masterfully sketches the evolution of Israel through a long, difficult British Jewish process of conception. Gilbert's deep, lifelong scholarship and knowledge of his subject lend his book both authority and accessibility."—Kirkus Reviews
"Primarily known for his multivolume biography of Churchill, Gilbert has also written extensively about modern Jewish history and the Holocaust. Now he takes the opportunity to combine his expertise on these subjects, and his source material reflects years of work. Gilbert is strongest in narrative . . . But he's at his best when explaining the interrelationship between Churchill's position as a British government leader—especially during World War II—and his personal support of Zionism and Jewish refugees. Gilbert points out that Churchill had first to safeguard British interests, all the while functioning within a complex governmental system, which sometimes prevented him from promoting causes, such as Zionism, as he might have liked."—Frederic Krome, Library Journal
"This work by acclaimed Churchill biographer Gilbert examines an often-neglected aspect of the British leader's career: his relationship to Jews and Jewish issues. Drawing on a treasure trove of primary documents, Gilbert shows how Churchill grew beyond the kind of friendship with individual British Jews that his father enjoyed into a supporter of Jewish causes—most notably a Jewish state in Palestine. (In later years, Churchill even referred to himself as an 'old Zionist.') Gilbert shows that Churchill recognized as early as 1933 that Hitler's regime posed a grave danger for European Jewry. Yet, as Gilbert shows, in the late 1930s, Churchill upset Zionist leaders with his support for limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine out of a concern for British interests in the Arab world. The work is chock-full of narrative . . . a must-read for those interested in Churchill and in Jewish history."—Publishers Weekly
Sir Martin Gilbert was knighted in 1995 “for services to British history and international relations.” The author of an eight-volume biography of Winston Churchill, among his other books are Churchill: A Life, The First World War, The Second World War, and most recently The Somme. He lives in London, England.