Friday, May 26, 2017

Remembering the Crusades

Sar Shalom

The First Crusade began towards the end of the 11th century. On their way towards the Holy Land, the Crusaders passed the Rhine River and several Jewish villages there. They passed through around the time of the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday coming next week, and slaughtered every Jew in the villages they passed who would not convert to Christianity. This event was marked in the Ashkenazic liturgy by saying Av Harachamim on the Shabbatot before Shavuot and before Tisha B'Av (that is the original practice, as other massacres took place in other communities, many marked by saying Av Harachim on the anniversaries of those massacres, the practice became to expand the occasions on which it is said in most communities).

A few notes connecting that event to our times. One, just as the Crusaders were motivated by religious passion, Muslim jihadis do so today. Two, just as the Crusaders offered a particular appeal to the criminals of their time, so does today's call for avenging the honor of Islam. Three, just as participating in the Crusades promised one forgiveness for all sins and thus a ticket to heaven, today's avengers of the honor of Islam are promised 72 virgins in paradise.

A few more notes. While the attitudes towards non-believers in Christianity persisted for centuries afterwards, new theology did eventually take root in Christianity. Today, the theological tenets that propelled the Crusades among Christians nine centuries ago are popular across a broad segment of Islam. Many outside of Islam argue that these tenets are an immutable aspect of Islam and that we are therefore at war with all of Islam. My question to proponents of that notion is what about Islam today could not have been said about Christianity of the 11th century and thus can not be overcome the way that the Crusading theology of Christianity was superceded by Nostra Aetate? This is not to advocate any let up against those who profess an Islamic version of the Crusaders' theology, only to recognize the difference between practicing the five pillars and professing that theology.

Along a different strand of thought, "jihad" is term of honor to many Muslims. Does the fact that those avenging the honor of Islam call their action "jihad" mean that we should dignify them by using their preferred term as well? As I showed above, their actions have substantial parallels with the Crusades. Further, the term "Crusader" is derogatory term for Muslims, recall bin Laden calling those attacking him "Crusaders and Jews." Why not call them Crusaders, or to specify their cause, Islamic Crusaders?


  1. Islam has a built in guarantee against reform. Other religions have reformed their nasty stuff for the most part. That can never happen in Islam.

    1. How do you explain Abdul Palazzi and Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari then?

    2. To be honest I had never heard of them. Certainly there are MANY reformist voices in Islam but they are highly ineffective in this and every other century. That's because they have no hope in Hell in ever becoming listened to authorities with the rank of Mohammed and/or the Koran; and we know what they say.

  2. The linguistic horse has long since left the barn, so to speak, but yes. Fully agreed. Language matters. I still harbor hope that one day we can begin referring to them as irhabis -

  3. It's Ramadan. Do you know where your children are?

  4. "Islamic Crusaders."

    As a rhetorical device it has much to recommend it, not the least of which is historical accuracy.

    Just as the Christian Crusaders sought to reclaim Jerusalem and spread Christianity by any means necessary, so goes the Jihad for Islam.

    Of course, the Christian Crusades were a response to centuries of earlier Islamic aggression and only lasted for a relatively small period in the history of Christianity.

    The violent, totalitarian form of Jihad has been ongoing since Muhammad.

    In any case Islamic Crusaders works nicely.

    I like it.

  5. We Jews must thank and praise the G_D-OF-ISRAEL for giving us an American President who is pro-Israel, or at least seems to be much more pro-Israel than his Israel-bashing predecessor. Thank You, G_d! Again I thank You G_d!

    Concerning the historical connection
    between Jews and the Land of Israel:

    Ancient Roman historians
    connected Jews with the Land of Israel

    How intermarriage harms Jewish
    sovereignty over the Land of Israel

    How Shabbat-desecration harms
    Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem:

    Why Israel’s 1967 Borders are Undefendable: