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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and important
This is an important and well-written book which should be widely read, not only by those interested in Jewish history but by those interested in the history of Islam. The US Amazon site has (September 19, 2010) two excellent reviews by James Comfort and L. King with which I entirely agree and which I cannot better.
Gilbert is far from the first to write a more...
Published on 19 Sep 2010 by observer100

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important but difficult
Well worth reading. Not anywhere near as good prose as Gilbert's other works. This reads as though he was asked to produce something quickly. Full of references, it is a convincing case that life for Jews, as inferior people under Moslem rule, was harsh for Centuries. But it is an exhausting read, cataloguing one massacre after another. It is the Arab World that...
Published on 25 Jun 2012 by Mr. Roger Eden


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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and important, 19 Sep 2010
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This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
This is an important and well-written book which should be widely read, not only by those interested in Jewish history but by those interested in the history of Islam. The US Amazon site has (September 19, 2010) two excellent reviews by James Comfort and L. King with which I entirely agree and which I cannot better.
Gilbert is far from the first to write a more balanced account than is implied by the myth that "Christians and Jews were always treated well under Muslim rule". This myth was not true in the earliest period of Islam, is not true today (with local exceptions) and as for the periods in between please consult the book. There were indeed periods and places in which oppression by Muslims was markedly less severe than oppression by Christians, but the opposite has also commonly been true. Discrimination has been the rule and attacks, killings and massacres of non-Muslims have occurred throughout Muslim history. Exceptions have occurred mainly during periods of strong European influence. Themes of irrational hatred of Jews have passed freely between Europe and Arab lands, such as the enforced use of discriminatory clothing copied from the Muslim past into Nazi policy and the widespread promotion of translated European antisemitic literature in Arab lands in the present. The number of Jews who fled Arab lands with good reason after 1947 was greater than the number of Arabs who fled Israel when it became independent.
But Gilbert's account is not a demolition job. He recounts the good as well as the bad. The good includes heroic actions by Arabs to protect Jews when their lives were in danger and principled actions by Muslim rulers when Muslim mobs were conducting a Pogrom.
If you want to read nice fairy tales, there are plenty of sources you can use. If you want to understand real history, read Gilbert's book.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facts and myths - Islam and other faiths, 20 Oct 2010
This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
Martin Gilbert is to be congratulated on this, his latest work.
He has drawn together a vast amount of information from across the Islamic Empire and, with little or no comment, clearly demonstrates the attitude of traditional Islam towards Jews and those of other faiths. In particular, he demonstrates that the hostility of traditional Islam towards Jews, even today, has little to do with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, but has been ongoing for 1400 years, since Islam was founded.
Few books have been written about the position and experiences of other faiths living under Islamic rule and Sharia Law and most people in the West are ignorant of this matter. Thus, this well-researched book is extremely useful for reference purposes.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Work, 6 Nov 2010
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This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
This is a thoroughly researched and comprehensive account that anyone interested in Israeli/Palestinian relations should read.
It's hard to add much to the other reviews that have been written, but after reading this book, I have the following comments:
1. It's not a book that you can read cover-to-cover in a day or two; you need time to reflect on each chapter, partly to prevent yourself from being desensitised to the accounts.
2. If you have a superficial or popular media-influenced view of Israel, you will find it extremely challenging.
3. The author tries hard to end on a high note, with some optimism towards the future. Whilst this is commendable, I find it hard to share his optimism.

This book is essential to understanding how zionist aspirations developed and were fueled mainly by intolerance.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A candid horror, 24 Sep 2011
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Charles Soper (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
Whilst the author intially sets out in a peaceful and honourable way to pay tribute to the Arab and Muslims lands of the Jewish diaspora, the book in reality quickly become something altogether different. In some ways, he compares Muslim lands favourably with the West's bloody past (neither so bad as the worst, nor so good as the best). Yet it is a tremendous catalogue of unprovoked violence, humiliation, savagery and sheer horror, precisely drawn from historical sources, with Gilbert's characteristic rigour. As one considers the events described, it looks suspiciously like the tip of a much larger iceberg. There is no more effective antidote to the mindless PC whitewash peddled by pseudo-historians of an Andalousian paradise of Islamic tolerance, than a few minutes browsing through these pages. It is difficult not to see the repeated motif of this evil. Its main motivation appears one founded in a jealous, religious determination to disprove the reality of Jewish genius and contribution, and maintain a torn veneer of Muslim cultural supremacy.

As with the Shoah (holocaust) there are scattered islands of nobility and relief from nobler Muslim neighbours, but on the whole the book is a dark and terrible indictment of the midnight of the Middle East, and the mountain of forgotten injustices against the Jews, more especially in the 20th century than in those that preceded it. No wonder that many Middle Eastern Jews who once opposed Zionism found themselves bound to Zion as their only refuge in the gale of malice.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important but difficult, 25 Jun 2012
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Well worth reading. Not anywhere near as good prose as Gilbert's other works. This reads as though he was asked to produce something quickly. Full of references, it is a convincing case that life for Jews, as inferior people under Moslem rule, was harsh for Centuries. But it is an exhausting read, cataloguing one massacre after another. It is the Arab World that populated Israel, their descendants make up more than half the population and they were all robbed, dispossessed and expelled. The book dispels the myth of alien intruders from Europe. Their grandparents have Arabic as their mother tongue. Pity, if this book was an easier read, it could make a significant impact on the Peace process.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable perspective, 22 April 2014
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This is a compelling account of the mixed fortunes of the Jewish communities in lands that became engulfed in the complex world of Islam. It brings home the size of these communities and the remarkable contributions that they made to the countries that, with justification, especially where their residence preceded the advent of the Islamic faith, they regarded as their homes. The climax is reached with the twentieth century story of the emergence of the state of Israel, prompting expulsions that in scale were more than comparable to the exodus of Palestinian refugees. This should be required reading for anyone seeking a balanced understanding of the issues arising from the events of 1948 and subsequent years.

It is a pity that this edition does not contain the illustrations that the author has gathered.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ishmael's house the door opened, 12 Dec 2013
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An excellent book well researched keeps the reader interested all the time.Uses history well and uses the facts in their correct context.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realism and Fact, 12 Oct 2010
This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
I have read so many books on the Holocaust so this book seemed like a natural selection and I have been proved right. Well researched , well written,well balanced and unbiased view on the life of the Jewish people under Muslim rule. It explains alot of the historical aspects which led upto the holocaust . I have to say that people who blindly champion the Palestinian cause should read and reflect on the facts rather than form their opinions based on the pitiful journalism we experience in the UK and the proclamations of the likes of George Galloway
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corredting theMyths, 10 Oct 2010
This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
This is a first rate book, beautifully written about a subject never tackled before, and giving perspective on the problems in the Middle East from the distinguished biographer of Churchill. I recommend it highly
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15 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and partial, 3 May 2011
This review is from: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (Hardcover)
I was really looking forward to this. For many years I have tried to understand the dynamics that led to the expulsion or flight of Jews from the Arab world, I had hoped this book would illuminate this, sadly it didn't.

Three instances will suffice to explain my frustration. The first concerns Operation Magic Carpet - the airlift of Jews from Yemen to Israel. My understanding of the event is that it was arranged between the government of Israel and the Yemeni Sultan and that it was to be a total transfer - that is all the Jews were to be transferred whether they wished to go or not. Unfortunately Gilbert does not mention the terms of the agreement at all, or what expectations or motivations were on either side. Similarly, as regards the Yemeni Jews, my understanding is that they left generally because of Messanic fervour - not because they were pushed -again Gilbert only points to the riots and killings in Aden following the UN vote on Palestine partition and does not suggest alternative reasons why they left.

However, if this failing is bad enough, his account of the exodus of the Iraqi Jews is truly appalling. Astonishingly he fails to mention the bomb attacks on the Baghdadi Jewish community that precipitated the exodus. In his book "Israel" he had attributed the bomb attacks to Zionist agents - something which remains a moot point - but here he simply refuses to mention them at all. This can only be because he doesn't want to even acknowledge the suggestion that Israel might have any responsibility for the flight of Jews from the Arab world.

Evidence of this motivation is further illustrated in his omission of the Egyptian Lavon Affair. For those who don't know, and if you have only read this book you are unlikely to know for Gilbert makes no mention of it, in 1954 there were a series of bombings carried out by Egyptian Jews acting at Israel's behest. The cuplrits were caught and hanged but undoubtedly the affair encouraged the Egyptian authorities to treat all Jews as potential fifth columnists, a factor combined with the 1956 Suez War that led to their persecution and expulsion.

The reality of the modern Arab states relationships with their Jewish populations is appalling, and without doubt the Arab states have failed to promote an inclusive idea of citizenship or even, in most cases, offer a minimum level of protection to their Jewish minorities. But to consciously ignore the wider political context in which these failures took place and the dynamics of the Israel-Arab Conflict is to present a partial, and in my opinion, disingenuous picture. A more honest assessment is available online in a short survey by Philip Mendes in which he attributes the Jewish flight to a dynamic of Push Pull factors. The pull of Zion and the idealism of a new state, and the push of discrimination, insecurity and sometimes outright persection. This assessment doesn't absolve the Arab states of guilt but it does balance their guilt with other factors - something Gilbert simply refuses to do.
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In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands
In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands by Martin Gilbert (Hardcover - 23 July 2010)
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