Proclamation by Napoleon, the Jews as rightful heirs of Palestine
The longing for Zion (the return to Israel) of the Jews is 2.000 years old among Jews. One of the first and foremost non-Jewish supporters of zionism was Napoleon Bonaparte.
In the year 1799, Napoleon found himself in the Mediterranean port of Acre (Akko), having arrived there with his army after his ‘Eastern Expedition’. While staying there, Napoleon sent out a proclamation to all Jewish communities of France in which he urged the Jews to return to the land of their forefathers.
Quoted by Franz Kobler: “Napoleon and the Jews”, Schocken Books, New York, 1976, pages 55-57]
General Headquarters, Jerusalem
“1st Floreal in the year 7 of the French Republic (April 20, 1799).
Bonaparte, Commander in Chief of the Armies of the French Republic in Africa and Asia, to the rightful Heirs of Palestine:
Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny were able to deprive of the ancestral lands only, but not of name and national existence! Attentive and impartial observers of the destinies of nation, even though not endowed with the gifts of seers like Isaiah and Joel, have also felt long since what these, with beautiful and uplifting faith, foretold when they saw the approaching destruction of their kingdom and fatherland:
“…that the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and the enjoyment of henceforth undisturbed possession of their heritage will send an everlasting joy upon their heads” [Isaiah 35:10].
Arise then, with gladness, yea, exiled! A war unexampled in the annals of history, waged in self-defense by a nation whose hereditary lands were regarded by her enemies as plunder to be divided, arbitrarily and at their convenience, by a stroke of the pen of Cabinets, avenges her own shame and the shame of the remotest nations, long forgotten under the yoke of slavery, and, to the almost two thousand-year-old ignominy put upon you; and 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, she (France) offers to you at this very time and contrary to all expectations, Israel’s patrimony!
The undefiled army with which Providence has sent me hither, led 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.
Rightful Heirs of Palestine!
This great nation which does not trade in men and countries as did those who sold your ancestors unto all peoples [Joel 4:6] hereby calls on you not indeed to conquer your patrimony, nay, only to take over that which has been conquered and, with that nation’s warranty and support, to maintain it against all comers.
Arise! Show that the once overwhelming might of your oppressors has not repressed the courage of the descendants of those heroes whose brotherly alliance did honor to Sparta and Rome [Maccabees 12:15], but that all the two thousand years of slavish treatment have not succeeded in stifling it.
Hasten! Now is the moment, which may not return for thousands of years, to claim the restoration of your rights among the population of the universe which had been shamefully withheld from you for thousands of years, your political existence as a nation among the nations and the unlimited natural right to worship God in accordance with your faith, publicly and likelihood forever [Joel 4:20].