Friday, 26 August 2011

history of Israel: still news today

horrible histories:click for homepage
I haven’t bought a general history magazine regularly for some time, since I thought the only one available was BBC History, which resembles the BBC's product for children Horrible Histories, except without the humour and relevance.

However, I’ve discovered History Today, lured by the tagline "What happened then matters now". Since my daughter will be spending about a third of the coming year studying "the conflict in Palestine" from 1945 for her GCSE History, I was interested to see in the current issue Soldiers of Zion by Mira Bar-Hillel, about her father’s war service for Great Britain in what would become the Jewish Brigade.

click to find out more about the Mufti and Hitler at Jewish Virtual Library
I was hooked, having never heard of the Jewish Brigade. As a Gentile in post-Blair Britain, trying to learn the whole of the story about modern Israel makes one empathetic with the mythical Isis trying to gather the scattered pieces of her consort. It was gratifying therefore also to see confirmed that "the Mufti of Jerusalem [had] formed an alliance with Hitler", something still denied around many dinner-tables.

This is, of course, before 1945, but I wonder if the National Curriculum will allow my daughter to learn of ties between Nazis and Arabs in the wider context of the founding of the State of Israel? Surely our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya show that the days when a country could be hung out to dry with the epithet "a faraway land of which we know little" belong to the old dispensation: so why is it so difficult merely to get a picture of the viewpoints of all sides regarding Middle Eastern affairs?

If History Today is in the habit of publishing articles of the quality of that written by Bar-Hillel, I’ll be subscribing!

Tony Urquhart
300 words

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