Monday, June 7, 2010

Is Israel "Medieval?" No.

Ross Douthat thinks you can compare Israel to "Outremer."  Like you can compare Afghanistan to ca. 1000 Francia?  No.

But at least Douthat's consistent.  This is the same guy who called Islam "Christianity's most enduring and impressive foe."  He is, in a sense, trying to rescue Outremer, trying to learn from the Franks' mistakes of so many centuries ago -- not to forge better understanding in the region, but to create a new Judeo-Christian hegemony, and give weight (against all work to the contrary) to Al Qaeda's claims about "Judeo-Christian crusaders."  Maybe he can recruit Erik Prince, as a new Raymond of St. Gilles to Douthat's Urban II.

2 comments:

Steve Muhlberger said...

His conclusion shows that he doesn't believe his own trope:

"Yet it may be the only way to guarantee their survival as a nation. Outremer was finally overrun by Muslim armies. But if Israel is destroyed, it will be destroyed from within."

Just more sloppy Op-Edding.

Jonathan Jarrett said...

There are certainly loads of reasons the basic geopolitical comparison falls over or fails to help: Asia Minor no longer being non-Muslim, it not being lack of support from the West—which was pretty much a constant—that tipped the balance against Outremer as a greater unity among its opponents that we don't currently seem at risk of, and y'know, the modern absence of any Crusades, and that's probably why he has to flake out at the end and admit the comparison doesn't inform. So it's not a very good article. All the same, firstly there are some very basic strategic parallels—same or similar lands held, religiously-defined domination of a population of non-co-religionists, declared agendas on both sides of expansion by people both with and without the effective power to carry them out, that make it worth attempting, I think. And most of all I don't see Douthat saying that Israel is medieval, in terms of organisation, equipment, ideology or aims or anything really. He's just saying, "you know, this situation with a coastal power with a religious definition holding the Holy Land against the Arabs has kinda happened before; shame I don't know how to make that mean anything".