OpinionIsrael News

Napoleon was right about the Jews

He acknowledged, like other great men, that the Jews are the heirs to the Land of Israel.

"Napoleon Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole" by Antoine-Jean Gros, painted 1796-1797. Source: Wikimedia
"Napoleon Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole" by Antoine-Jean Gros, painted 1796-1797. Source: Wikimedia
(Twitter)
Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

With the barrage of untruths emanating from Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and his underlings, it is always a welcome and refreshing phenomenon when world leaders recognize and speak the truth about Israel and the Jews.

Pat Robertson, who passed away last week, was one such leader. He was a great friend of the State of Israel and will be sorely missed.

I am always grateful when leaders clearly state that the Jews are the rightful heirs to the Land of Israel, which was promised by the almighty to the Jewish people. I appreciate it when diplomats and dignitaries point out that the First and Second Temples stood on the Temple Mount.

It is not well known that Napoleon Bonaparte was one of these leaders. In 1799, he tried to conquer the Land of Israel from the Ottoman governor Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar, also known as “The Butcher.” On April 16, 1799, Napoleon defeated the Butcher’s cavalry at the Battle of Tabor Mountain. When he reached Ramla, 25 miles from Jerusalem, he made a “Proclamation to the Jews.”

“Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny have been able to be deprived of their ancestral lands, but not of name and national existence! Arise then, with gladness, ye exiled!”

“A war unexampled in the annals of history … avenges [France’s] own shame and the shame of the remotest nations, long forgotten under the yoke of slavery, and also the almost 2,000-year-old ignominy put upon you,” it went on. “While time and circumstances would seem to be least favorable to a restatement of your claims or even to their expression, and indeed to be compelling their complete abandonment, it offers to you at this very time, and contrary to all expectations, Israel’s patrimony!”

“The young army with which Providence has sent me hither, let by justice and accompanied by victory, has made Jerusalem my headquarters and will, within a few days, transfer them to Damascus, a proximity which is no longer terrifying to David’s city,” Napoleon declared.

Unfortunately, Napoleon then lost the battle of Acre to the Butcher, who was aided by two British Navy ships under Sir Sidney Smith, a maverick English commodore. On May 21, 1799 Napoleon retreated towards Egypt.

Despite his defeat, Napoleon had made Palestine a focus of the world and increased Jewish immigration to it. His statements about the Jews and Palestine have been emblazoned on history.

Benjamin Disraeli, the British statesman, writer, and prime minister who was born Jewish but baptized at age 12, made similar statements. In 1851, he said, “Restoring the Jews to their land, which could be bought from the Ottomans, was both just and feasible.” When attacked for being a Jew, Disraeli also made the well-publicized statement, “Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the Rt. Hon. Gentleman were living as savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.”

It is scandalous that Mahmoud Abbas continues to deny the Jewish people’s  connection to the Temple Mount and the Land of Israel. Leaders the world over must follow in the footsteps of Napoleon, Disraeli and Robertson, who weren’t afraid to speak up on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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