LONDON – A new DVD on the Jewish claim to Jerusalem will feature Sir Martin Gilbert, the leading historian, who is recovering from a stroke.
Gilbert was due to narrate “Jerusalem and the Temple Mount,” produced by Britain’s Springboard Educational Trust, but became incapacitated during filming last year. Nevertheless, there was enough footage of Gilbert for some excerpts to be used, and for part of the voice-over.
The chief rabbi elect of Britain, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, paid tribute to Gilbert at the DVD’s launch in London on Jerusalem Day earlier this month, saying that the project reflected his “majestic, supreme expertise”.
Gilbert, who is known as the official biographer of former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, is the author of 88 books, including classic histories of the first and second world wars, “A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War,” and Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century. In 2012 he won the Dan David prize.
The Jerusalem video was produced in response to modern Muslim attempts to minimize the Jewish connection to the city. It also features Italy’s Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, who is known for supporting Jewish sovereignty over Israel and promoting Judaism’s connection to Temple Mount.
“The idea that no one questions the right of Catholics to St Peter’s or of Muslims to Mecca, but so many question the right of Jews to Jerusalem makes me upset,” he said at the launch.
While he admitted that his views were not popular amongst other Muslims and that he has received death threats, he said he was still respected by other Muslim scholars and included in major conferences.
He did not expect to see real change in Muslim attitudes to Jews in his lifetime, but “if you plant the seed, it will grow.”
The Muslim former Soviet republics and Muslims in the far east were “in the best position” to effect change, he added, as they were the least fundamentalist and dictatorial.
According to Springboard executive director Aumie Shapiro, the Jerusalem video will be available on YouTube in June and was deliberately kept to eight minutes so that it could easily be used in educational settings.