April 20, 2007

Napoleon Bonaparte's Letter to the Jews, April 20, 1799

From Mideast Web:

In 1799, the French armies under Napoleon were camped outside of Acre. Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection. The project was stillborn because Napoleon was defeated and was forced to withdraw from the Near East. The letter is remarkable because it marks the coming of age of enlightenment philosophy, making it respectable at last to integrate Jews as equal citizens in Europe and because it marked the beginning of nineteenth century projects for Jewish autonomy in Palestine under a colonial protectorate. After the defeat of Napoleon, it was largely the British who carried forward these projects, which have in hindsight been given the somewhat misleading name of "British Zionism."