Review of Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel – Middle East Forum

Posted By on June 2, 2022

by Gardner ThompsonLondon: Saqi, 2019. 366 pp. 20.

Reviewed by Daniel PipesMiddle East Forum

Middle East QuarterlySummer 2022

A haughty and persistent sneer dominates Thompson's book, starting with the very title, which turns Zionists into bit actors in their own drama. Thompson's approach turns a serious and deep topic into a puerile copybook exercise. This self-described historian of British colonialism reduces Middle Eastern passions to London-based drawing-room dilettantism.

Illustrations of this unfortunate approach abound; consider some quotes from the author's introduction:

As befits so condescending a book, Thompson's pretense to originality falls predictably short. He begins with a superficial survey of the Jewish and Zionist background, then immediately goes off-track in claiming an alleged Zionist blindness to the Muslim population of Palestine, concluding with the canard that "Zionists preferred the fiction of a land without a people."

This last error typifies Thompson's superficiality; a smidgen of research would have turned up a 1991 article by Adam M. Garfinkle that documents how acutely aware the Zionists were of Palestine's indigenous population and that the phrase "Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country" refers not to demographics but to nationhood. To take one of many examples, David Ben-Gurion wrote in 1918, "Palestine is not an empty country ... on no account must we injure the rights of its inhabitants."

Thompson chose a rich topic; too bad he handled it wretchedly.

Related Topics: Israel & Zionism | Daniel Pipes | Summer 2022 MEQreceive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing listThis text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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Review of Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel - Middle East Forum

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