As Jews, we’ve always been pretty good at tooting our own horn, so it’s nice to see that some very smart and important non Jews over the centuries felt the same way.
I guess God knew what he was doing after all!
But on a more serious note, if you’re looking for a motivational boost, or vote of confidence, in what we’re all about – this may do the trick.
(I’ve highlighted some of the more powerful ones but highly recommend reading them all)
Bishop Ruediger – Huozmann. Bishop of Speyer, Germany 1084
“I, Rüdiger, with the surname of Huozmann, bishop of Speyer, in my endeavor to turn the village of Speyer into a city, believed to multiply its image a thousand times by also inviting Jews”
Ausgeuvahlte Urkunden zur Erlauterung Verfassungsge schichte Deutschlands im Mitzelalter, pp. 156
Blaise Pascal. French scientist and philosopher 1623-1662
This family, or people, is the most ancient within human knowledge, a fact which seems to me to inspire a peculiar veneration for it, especially in view of our present inquiry; since if God had from all time revealed himself to men, it is to these we must turn for knowledge of the tradition.
This people are not eminent solely by their antiquity, but are also singular by their duration, which has always continued from their origin till now. For, whereas the nations of Greece and of Italy, of Lacedaemon, of Athens and of Rome, and others who came long after, have long since perished, these ever remain, and in spite of the endeavors of many powerful kings who have a hundred times tried to destroy them… they have nevertheless been preserved (and this preservation has been foretold); and extending from the earliest times to the latest, their history comprehends in its duration all our histories which it preceded by a long time.
The law by which this people is governed is at once the most ancient law in the world, the most perfect, and the only one which has been always observed without a break in a state… the very name of law was only known by the oldest nation more than a thousand years afterwards; so that Homer, who has written the history of so many states, has never used the term. And it is easy to judge of its perfection by simply reading it; for we see that it has provided for all things with so great wisdom, equity, and judgment, that the most ancient legislators, Greek and Roman, having had some knowledge of it, have borrowed from it their principal laws Pensees p. 619 – 620
Thomas Newton. Bishop of Bristol, England 1704-1782
“The preservation of the Jews is really one of the most signal and illustrious acts of divine Providence… and what but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as none other nation upon earth hath been preserved. Nor is the providence of God less remarkable in the destruction of their enemies, than in their preservation… We see that the great empires, which in their turn subdued and oppressed the people of God, are all come to ruin… And if such hath been the fatal end of the enemies and oppressors of the Jews, let it serve as a warning to all those, who at any time or upon any occasion are for raising a clamor and persecution against them.”
Dissertations on the Prophecies Which Have Remarkably Been Fulfilled pp.133
John Adams, Second President of the United States (1735 – 1826)
“I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations … They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.”
From a letter to F. A. Van der Kemp [Feb. 16, 1808] Pennsylvania Historical Society
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. German dramatist, novelist and poet 1749 – 1832
“It is the most perpetual people of the earth…”
“In the holly scriptures, the divine providence outlines the way to all humanity in light of the history and events of this unique nation”
Lev Tolstoy. Russian writer 1828 – 1910
A Jew is a sacred being who procured an eternal fire from the heavens and with it illuminated the earth and those who live on it. He is the spring and the source from which the rest of the nations drew their religions and beliefs.
A Jew is a pioneer of culture. From time immemorial, ignorance was impossible in the Holy Land, even more so than nowadays in civilized Europe. Moreover, at the time when the life and death of a human being was worth nothing, Rabbi Akiva spoke against the death penalty which is now considered to be an acceptable punishment in the most civilized countries.
A Jew is a pioneer of freedom. Back in primitive times, when the nation was divided into two classes, masters and slaves, Moses’ teaching forbid holding a person as a slave for more than six years.
A Jew is a symbol of civil and religious tolerance, “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” These words were uttered during distant, barbarian times when it was commonly acceptable among the nations to enslave each other.
In terms of tolerance, the Jewish religion is far from recruiting adherents. Quite the opposite, the Talmud prescribes that if a non-Jew wants to convert to the Jewish faith, then it has to be explained to him how difficult it is to be a Jew and that the righteous of other religions also inherit the heavenly kingdom.
The nation which neither slaughter nor torture could exterminate, which neither fire nor sword of civilizations were able to erase from the face of earth, the nation which first proclaimed the word of Lord, the nation which preserved the prophecy for so long and passed it on to the rest of humanity, such a nation cannot vanish. A Jew is eternal; he is an embodiment of eternity.
“What is the Jew?” 1891
Mark Twain. American Author and humorist 1835 – 1910
”…If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
“Concerning The Jews,” Harper’s Magazine, 1899
Friedrich Nietzsche. German philosopher 1844 – 1900
In the Jewish “Old Testament,” the book of divine justice, there are men, things, and sayings on such an immense scale, that Greek and Indian literature has nothing to compare with it. One stands with fear and reverence before those stupendous remains of what man was formerly… the Old Testament is a touchstone with respect to “great” and “small” Beyond Good and Evil p.52
“What Europe owes to the Jews? Many things, good and bad, and above all one thing that is of the best and of the worst: the grand style in morality, the terribleness and majesty of infinite demands, infinite meanings” Beyond Good and Evil p.250
“The Jews, however, are beyond all doubt the strongest, toughest, and purest race at present living in Europe; they know how to succeed even under the worst conditions (in fact better than under favorable ones) by means of virtues of some sort, which one would like nowadays to label as vices-owing above all to a resolute faith which does not need to be ashamed before “modern” idea…
It is certain that the Jew, if he desired-or if they were driven to it, as the anti-Semites seem to wish-could now have the ascendancy, nay, literally the supremacy, over Europe; that they are not working or planning for that end is equally sure… The resourcefulness of the modern Jews, both in mind and soul, is extraordinary…” Beyond Good and Evil p.251
Woodrow Wilson. US President 1856 – 1924
”…it would be a mistake…to ascribe to Roman legal conceptions an undivided sway over the development of law and institutions during the Middle Ages… The Laws of Moses as well as the laws of Rome contributed suggestions and impulse to the men and institutions which were to prepare the modern world; and if we could have but eyes to see… we should readily discover how very much besides religion we owe to the Jew.”
The State, p. 285 (chapter 4)
Maxim Gorky. Russian and Soviet author 1868 – 1936
The Jews—mankind’s old, strong leaven,—have always exalted its spirit, bringing into the world restless, noble ideas, goading men to embark on a search for finer values.
All men are equal; the soil—is no one’s, it is God’s; man has the right and the power to resist his fate, and we may stand up even against God,—all this is written in the Jewish Bible, one of the world’s best books. And the commandment of love for one’s neighbor is also an ancient Jewish commandment, just as are all the rest, “thou shalt not kill” among them… I believe that Jewish wisdom is more all-human and universal than any other, and this not only because of its immemorial age, not only because it is the first-born, but also because of the powerful humaneness that saturates it, because of its high estimate of man.
“Russia and the Jews”, the Shield, first essay
Nicholai Berdysev. Russian philosopher 1874 – 1948
“The Jews have played an all-important role in history. They are pre-eminently an historical people and their destiny reflects the indestructibility of the divine decrees. Their destiny is too imbued with the “metaphysical” to be explained either in material or positive historical terms.
I remember how the materialist interpretation of history, when I attempted in my youth to verify it by applying it to the destinies of peoples, broke down in the case of the Jew, where destiny seemed absolutely inexplicable from the materialistic standpoint. And, indeed, according to the materialistic and positivist criterion, this people ought long ago to have perished. Its survival is a mysterious and wonderful phenomenon demonstrating that the life of this people is governed by a special predetermination, transcending the processes of adaptation expounded by the materialistic interpretation of history. The survival of the Jews, their resistance to destruction, their endurance under absolutely peculiar conditions and the fateful role played by them in history; all these point to the particular and mysterious foundations of their destiny…
The historical not only represented man’s external relations, but that it might also reveal the very noumenon and essence of his being… Scientific criticism applied to traditional Biblical history can neither discredit the universal role played by the Jews nor offer a satisfactory explanation of their mysterious destiny. Nor does this criticism grapple with the absolutely peculiar tie existing between the Jews and the ‘historical,’ and their extraordinarily intense feeling for history.”
The Meaning of History pp. 86
Winston Churchill. Prime Minister of Great Britain 1874 – 1965
“Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.”
“Zionism vs. Bolshevism”, Illustrated Sunday Herald Feb 8 1920
Carlton Hayes. American historian and ambassador to Spain 1882 – 1964
Only if you have some knowledge of the human sacrifices, the vicious temple rites, the degrading superstitions and customs that were practiced . . . can you realize how much the modern world owes to the Hebrew prophets, whose monotheism and moral teachings entered into Christianity and Islam….
Ancient and Medieval History pp.81
“This one book (the Bible) … has attracted to it, and had concentrated on it, vastly more thought and has called forth more works, explanatory, illustrative, apologetic, upon its text, its meaning, its geography, its theology, its chronology, its evidences, its inspiration, its origin, than all the rest of the literature of the world put together. An immense bulk of the world’s literature owes its origin to this book.”
The Bible, Is it a True Book
Olive Schreiner. South African novelist and social activist 1885 – 1920
“The study of history of Europe during the past centuries teaches us one uniform lesson, that the nations which received and in any way dealt fairly and mercifully with the Jew have prospered, and that the nations that have tortured and oppressed them have written out their own curse.”
Will Durant. American writer, historian, and philosopher 1885 – 1981
“So prominent was the Jewish role in the foreign commerce of Europe that those nations that received the Jews gained and the countries that excluded them lost in the volume of international trade.”
The Story of Civilization – The Reformation
Adolph Hitler. 1889 – 1945
“The Jews have inflicted two wounds on the world: Circumcision for the body and conscience for the soul. I come to free mankind from their shackles.”
“When over long periods of human history I scrutinized the activity of the Jewish people, suddenly there arose up in me the fearful question whether inscrutable Destiny, perhaps for reasons unknown to us poor mortals, did not, with eternal and immutable resolve, desire the final victory of this little nation.”
Mein Kampf pp.64
“Conscience is a Jewish invention”
Herman Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, pp. 220
Edmund Wilson. American writer and literary and social critic 1895 – 1972
“The Jew lends himself easily to Communism because it enables him to devote himself to a high cause, involving all of humanity, characteristics which are natural to him as a Jew.”
Henri Frankfort. Dutch archaeologist and orientalist 1897 – 1954
“Israel’s great achievement, so apparent that mention of it is almost trite, was Monotheism. It was an achievement that transformed subsequent history….One may raise the question whether any other single contribution from whatever source since human culture emerged from the stone age has had the far reaching effect upon history that Israel in this regard has exerted both through the mediums of Christianity and Islam and directly through the world of Jewish thinkers themselves”
“The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man”
Ernest Van Den Haag. Dutch-American sociologist and social critic 1914 – 2002
“Asked to make a list of the men who have most dominated the thinking of the modern world, many educated people would name Freud, Einstein, Marx and Darwin. Of these four, only Darwin was not Jewish. In a world where Jews are only a tiny percentage of the population, what is the secret of the disproportionate importance the Jews have had in the history of Western culture?”
The Jewish Mystique pp.13
Michael Grant. English classicist and Author 1914 – 2004
“The Jews proved not only unassimilated, but inassimilable, and… the demonstration that this was so proved one of the most significant turning points in Greek history, owing to the gigantic influence exerted throughout subsequent ages by their religion, which not only survived intact, but subsequently gave birth to Christianity as well.”
From Alexander to Cleopatra: the Hellenistic World pp. 75
Thomas Cahill. American Historian and author 1940 –
“If we had lived in the second millennium BC, the millennium of Abraham, and could have canvassed all the nations of the earth, what would they have said of Abraham’s journey? In most of Africa and Europe, they would have laughed at Abraham’s madness and pointed to the heavens, where the life of earth had been plotted from all eternity … a man cannot escape his fate. The Egyptians would have shaken their heads in disbelief. The early Greeks might have told Abraham the story of Prometheus … Do not overreach, they would advise; come to resignation. In India, he would be told that time is black, irrational and merciless. Do not set yourself the task of accomplishing something in time, which is only the dominion of suffering. On every continent, in every society, Abraham would have been given the same advice that wise men as diverse as Heraclitus, Lao-Tsu and Siddhartha would one day give their followers: do not journey but sit; compose yourself by the river of life, meditate on its ceaseless and meaningless flow.”
“The Jews started it all—and by ‘it’ I mean so many of the things we care about, the underlying values that make all of us, Jew and Gentile, believer and atheist, tick. Without the Jews, we would see the world through different eyes, hear with different ears, even feel with different feelings … we would think with a different mind, interpret all our experience differently, draw different conclusions from the things that befall us. And we would set a different course for our lives.”
The Gifts of the Jews
John Morris Roberts. British historian 1928 – 2003
“For many people during many centuries, mankind’s history before the coming of Christianity was the history of the Jews and what they recounted of the history of others. Both were written down in the books called the Old Testament, the sacred writings of the Jewish people … They were the first to arrive at an abstract notion of God and to forbid his representation by images. No other people has produced a greater historical impact from such comparatively insignificant origins and resources …”
History of the World
Huston Smith. Religious studies professor and comparative religion author 1919 –
“There is a striking point that runs through Jewish history as a whole. Western civilization was born in the Middle East, and the Jews were at its crossroads. In the heyday of Rome, the Jews were close to the Empire’s center. When power shifted eastward, the Jewish center was in Babylon; when it skipped to Spain, there again were the Jews. When in the Middle Ages the center of civilization moved into Central Europe, the Jews were waiting for it in Germany and Poland. The rise of the United States to the leading world power found Judaism focused there. And now, today, when the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward the Old World and the East rises to renewed importance, there again are the Jews in Israel…”
The Religious of Man, pp.299
Paul Johnson. English journalist and historian 1928 –
“Certainly, the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might have eventually stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the human intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they had been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so a personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without Jews it might have been a much emptier place.”
A History of the Jews, epilogue
No people has ever insisted more firmly than the Jews that history has a purpose and humanity a destiny… The Jews, therefore, stand right at the centre of the perennial attempt to give human life the dignity of a purpose.
A History of the Jews pp.2
Paul Johnson. English journalist and historian 1928 –
“For the Jewish impact on humanity has been protean. In antiquity they were the great innovators in religion and morals. In the Dark Ages and early medieval Europe they were still an advanced people transmitting scarce knowledge and technology. Gradually they were pushed from the van and fell behind, by the end of the eighteenth century, they were seen as a bedraggled and obscurantist rearguard in the march of civilized humanity. But then came an astonishing second burst of creativity. Breaking out of the ghettos, they once more transformed human thinking, this time in the secular sphere. Much of the mental furniture of the modern world too is of Jewish fabrication.”
A History of the Jews pp. 585
William Rees-Mogg. Editor of The Times of London, member of the House of Lords 1928 –
“One of the gifts of the Jewish culture to Christianity is that it has taught Christians to think like Jews, and any modern man who has not learned to think as though he were a Jew can hardly be said to have learned to think at all.”
The Times of London
“All of humankind’s history did not give birth to anything even remotely similar to the prophecy of Israel. Through its prophecy, Israel became a prophet to the entire world. May this fact never be forgotten”
The New Bible and the Old
“No ancient people have had a stranger history than the Jews. … The history of no ancient people should be so valuable, if we could only recover it and understand it. … Stranger still, the ancient religion of the Jews survives, when all the religions of every ancient race of the pre-Christian world have disappeared … Again it is strange that the living religions of the world all build on religious ideas derived from the Jews. …. The great matter is not “What happened?” but “Why did it happen?” Why does Judaism live?”
The Ancient World, Penguin, pp. 184