The survival of the Jews is unique in history. Never before has a nation been scattered throughout the world for two millennia and survived with their religion and language intact to return to their native land.
When Frederick the Great, the atheist king of Prussia, asked, “Can you give me one single irrefutable proof of God?” Jean-Baptiste de Boyer (Marquis d’Argens) replied, “Yes, your Majesty, the Jews.”
In 1754 Bishop Thomas Newton [pictured above] wrote of the Jews:
“Their preservation is really one of the most illustrious acts of Divine Providence. They are dispersed among all nations, yet not confounded with any. ... They can produce their pedigree from the beginning of the world. ... After wars, massacres and persecutions they still subsist; they are still quite numerous. What but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as no other nation on earth has been preserved?” (Dissertation on the Prophecies, VIII, section 2).
The survival of the Jews was accomplished in the face of every obstacle, including the attempt of great powers to destroy them.
Napoleon’s attempt to destroy the Jews is not as well known as Hitler’s, but it was perhaps even more insidious. Napoleon wanted to destroy the Jews by assimilation, and assimilation has always been the greatest danger, humanly speaking.
Though some of Napoleon’s actions appeared to be protective and compassionate toward the Jews, the underlying motives were anything but that.
Jews enjoyed much liberty under Napoleon. He liberated Jewish communities in Italy and Germany from the requirement to live in ghettos, and he made Judaism one of the official religions of France (together with Catholicism and Protestantism).
But his ultimate goal was assimilation, as he made plain in the following statements:
“[It is necessary to] reduce, if not destroy, the tendency of Jewish people to practice a very great number of activities that are harmful to civilisation and to public order in society in all the countries of the world. It is necessary to stop the harm by preventing it; to prevent it, it is necessary to change the Jews. ... Once part of their youth will take its place in our armies, they will cease to have Jewish interests and sentiments; their interests and sentiments will be French” (Napoleon to Jean-Baptiste de Norpere de Champagny, Minister of the Interior, Nov. 29, 1806).
“Nothing could be more ridiculous than the audience you gave the Jews. ... I have undertaken to reform the Jews, but I have not endeavoured to draw more of them into my realm. Far from that, I have avoided doing anything which could show any esteem for the most despicable of mankind” (Letter to Napoleon’s brother Jerome, March 6, 1808, New Letters of Napoleon I, 1898, archive.org).
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