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Is Gaza Another Crusade?

              The killing of 4 aid workers and 3 bodyguards by bombs fired from Israeli jets has made the whole mess in Gaza even more of a mess, if an attempt to root out a terrorist organization which has now resulted in more than 32,000 civilian deaths and 75,000 injured could be even more of a mess.

              I didn’t think that any international political situation could get the fighting in Ukraine off the front page, but Gaza seems to have turned that trick in the past couple of weeks.

              Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has just passed the one-year mark and somewhere around 10,000 civilians in Ukraine have lost their lives and another roughly 20,000 have been injured, numbers which only go to underscore how brutal the IDF incursion into Gaza has been.

              I’m calling the movement of Israeli armed forces into Gaza an ‘incursion’ rather than an ‘invasion’ because Gaza happens to be part of Israel, even though the whole issue of how and why Gaza became a somewhat autonomous territory containing several million human residents has never been accepted or even acknowledged by either Arabs or Jews.

              What Gaza really represents, as far as I’m concerned, is yet another chapter in a conflict which has been going on now for slightly less than fourteen hundred years, which is when a Muslim army was defeated in 732 by an army led by the French King, Charles Martel.

              From that time onward, what had been the Roman Empire which enclosed all of the Mediterranean Sea known back then as Mare Nostrum, was now divided into Christian nation-states on the northern side and Muslim dominions in the South.

              At the end of the 11th Century, the political and religious leaders of the European region which had previously been part of the Roman Empire decided to mount a large invasion eastward to recapture Jerusalem and the surrounding lands, the justification being to return what had been the origin of Christianity to Christian hands.

              From 1095 through 1254 there were seven such crusades which resulted in the formation of a series of crusader-led territories, all of which would eventually collapse and be replaced by the Ottoman Empire in the 14th Century, the time when Jerusalem reverted to non-Western control.

              The resumption of Christian/European interest in the territory that had been known from earliest times as Palestine, was rekindled in the 19th Century when the British began to compete with Imperial Russia for control of the landscape which was up for grabs as the Ottoman Empire began to collapse. Britian effectively gained suzerainty over this zone after World War I, at the same time issuing a governmental decree – the Balfour Declaration – which called for territory to be set aside in Palestine as a national home for the Jews.

              The Jewish nation-state came into existence in 1948 which culminated in nearly a thousand years of attempts by the Christian West to regain control of the region where their religion first appeared.

              It needs to be understood that the indigenous peoples who were located in this region were never as ked their opinion as to whether the Jews deserved to establish a national state.

              Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Jews who settled in Palestine both before and after World War II had much of a choice. After all, it wasn’t as if any of the enlightened Western democracies invited the tattered, human remnants of the Nazi Holocaust to come and live in Western Europe, or for that matter, in the United States.

              But if I were a Muslim resident of Palestine or Gaza or both, the presence of a nation and a nationality based on the same ideas and culture which spawned endless attempts over centuries at military conquest of my homeland would not evoke any feelings of joy.

              At some point within the next week, I’m going to write and post some thoughts about the awful legacy of British colonialism which has engendered this unspeakable violence in the Near East today.

              Can the situation in Gaza get any worse? We’ll see.





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