Review of final episode of Shama’s The Story of the Jews

It is to be hoped that socialists and radicals who describe themselves as ‘anti-Zionist’ and give credence to the military destruction of the state of Israel see Shama’s final episode of the The Story of the Jews.
The posing of the dilemma of  the victims of the Nazi’s Jewish concentration camps after their release.  Why would they want to return to the flattened ghettos of a continuingly anti-semitic Eastern Europe?  The footage of the British incarceration of them, again, in concentration camps as they tried to make their way to a hoped-for homeland. The driving of hundreds of thousands of Jews out of Egypt and Iraq as similarly hundreds of thousands, indeed more, of Palestinians were driven from their villages. This complex and tragic story was told honestly by Shama.
He did not unfortunately look at how Faisal’s, as well as the early Zionists’, earlier indications that both peoples would live in peace, was undermined. He hinted at the casual indifference of the UK occupying power to the growing communalism and acknowledged the dishonesty within the leaderships of both sides.
The truth was complex and tragic. It was portrayed, by Shama neither as the liberation of the Jews or a story of predatory imperialism as the ‘anti-Zionist’ left try to present.
No doubt he will be attacked by them as not having looked at the brutality that the Palestinians suffered at the time of Israel’s foundation and the occupations of the West Bank and Gaza. He didn’t and a bit more on that could have placated his critics. But this WAS the Story of the Jews. He was concerned more in how the fanatical settlers and the wall of occupation were undermining both the pride of Jewishness as well as any sense of democratic Israeli identity. He had a right to do that. Indeed within Israel that is an essential critique.
‘Anti-Zionists’ would probably even disagree with that, believing, as they do, that the only things Jews should do in the Middle East is either give up their national identity or get out.
There were only the vaguest pointers for hope – of young Jews and Palestinians working and learning together. Shama whilst being a decent and good historian always seems to fail at the end of his series. He never advances any ‘programme’ for the way ahead. He is not a Marxist and he doesn’t believe in class struggle. But even for those of us are, identifying a way forward in Palestine/ Israel is very difficult at the moment.
We should still be grateful to Shama for compiling this historical account.


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