Let us look at what they wrote:
“The nations rose up, then disappeared; states flourished, then declined; revolutions stirred up storm winds across the face of the earth, but all the while, the Jews remained bent over their books, paying no heed to the gales that raged over their heads.”
Henrich Heine, writer and poet
“No nation in the chronicles of the East has a stranger history than the Jews.
“Even more remarkable is the fact that the ancient religion of Israel has survived, even while all other sects of the pre-Christian era disappeared.
“And even more amazing: Those religious sects which hold sway in our times are all based on concepts derived from Judaism. Consequently, the question is not what happened, but rather, why it happened this way.
“Why does this particular sect continue to endure? Why is Judaism still alive?
“We cannot answer these questions; herein lies the unique character of the Jew.
Terrot Reaveley Glover, The Ancient World, pg. 184-191
“I find this unique nation in a corner of the world, set apart from the rest of the nations of the earth, more ancient than them all. It is a nation whose history goes further back, by hundreds of years, than any other ancient culture … the fact that it still exists astounds me.”
Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and philosopher
“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 peoples arose, sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in the 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?”
Mark Twain, ‘Concerning the Jews’, Harper’s Magazine, September, 1899; Republished in The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, Doubleday, 1963, p. 249
“I cannot evaluate the Jewish Nation according to the accepted axioms of the history of man. The Jewish Nation is beyond the realm of time.”
Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher
"What is the secret of this nation’s survival? … Why is it that larger civilizations and cultures, equally strong, have been overcome, or vanished from the face of the earth, or assimilated beyond recognition – while the Jewish People remained just that: the Jewish People.
“In their own eyes, and in the eyes of their contemporaries, they remain the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their on-going survival continues to be a source of amazement, respect, jealousy, and animosity, all at once.”
Professor Shmuel Ettinger, Israeli historian
Every attempt to explain the secret of Israel’s eternal existence has failed. It cannot be attributed to the era in which they lived, for their history spans four millennia.
In cannot be the result of their social environment, for they have been scattered to the four corners of the earth. Their hosts spoke a myriad of tongues and embraced every imaginable type of culture.
Economic climate? The Jews survived during times of poverty and distress, as well as in times of plenty.
How can one explain Jewish survival over so wide a range of circumstances? By human logic, there was far more reason to predict the demise of this battered nation than its survival.