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The historian Benzion Netanyahu, who died Monday at 102, was sometimes asked to explain the miracle of Jewish survival through millenniums of persecution. Netanyahu – the father of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin – would answer in a way his interlocutors did not at all expect. “The Jews didn’t survive,” he would say. About 1,900 years ago, he would explain, there were about 9 million Jews in a world population of roughly 300 million. Today, there are about 13 million Jews in a world of 7 billion. How is it that the number of Jews has stayed essentially stagnant, even as global population has grown exponentially?
Persecution, he explained, has driven the Jews nearly to extinction. So many murdered, so many forcibly converted to Christianity and Islam, so many choosing the dubious path of assimilation as a defense against hatred and isolation. The Jews of today, he said, are a remnant of a remnant. (Jeffrey Goldberg – Bloomberg)

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