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Here is part 2 of my eagerly unawated series on the parallels between the Crusader states of the Near East and Israel.  

While they were technically up against numerically and logistically stronger foes who were fighting on their home turf, both Israel and Outremer had initial advantages that led to quick early victories.  However, as the Muslim opponents grew accustomed to these tactics, they were able to adjust, negate, and in time, begin to overcome the initially stronger invaders.  In less than a century, the military advantage that the knights had enjoyed during the First Crusader was completely gone as a result of the evolution of enemy tactics and power structure.  The failure of the Crusader state to adapt in turn was rooted in its chaotic political system and in demographics.  

How these same factors will play out for Israel remains to be seen, but I’ll try to figure out on the other side.

My apologies for this long diary, I tried to scale it down as much as I could, it’s already painfully abbreviated.  If you get tired and just want to find some interesting and controversial statements about modern Israel, scroll to the bottom.

Warfare between Frankish (a catchall term referring to Catholics from Western Europe, also often referred to by their enemies as Latins) and Saracen forces (a catchall term used by the Franks and which I will be using for predominantly Muslim forces from the Middle East and Northern Africa who were the primary opponents to the Crusades before the Mongol invasion) was typically characterized by one main dynamic: the Europeans relied on heavy armored cavalry backed by archers or crossbowmen and pikemen to decide the battle in the first hour by reaching and breaking through the enemy lines through the sheer shock of impact by the charging knights.  If the charge of the knights succeeded in impacting a stationary line of the opponent, it was virtually irresistible, regardless of the enemy’s numerical superiority. The enemy battle line would be cut in half by the original wedge of knights that would penetrate into the rear, with successive lines of knights now slamming into the already disordered mass of the enemy trying to reestablish its lines, inflicting mounting casualties and physically pushing people out of place and trampling them.  Under this onslaught enemy formations regardless of size would quickly lose cohesion and turn into a panicked crowd fleeing the field.  For the Saracens, their advantage lay in their greater speed due to their lighter armor, and their advantage at distance fighting conveyed by the bows carried by their horsemen.

Therefore, most battles between Crusaders and Saracens followed a similar pattern:  the Saracens would open the battle by riding into bow range to shower the Frankish line.  The Crusaders would then charge their opponents, either piecemeal or in a coordinate fashion depending on the quality of the commanders.  If the topography of the battlefield or the formation of the enemy was such as to prevent the Saracen horse archers from scattering before the knights could reach them, the impact of the knights’ charge was devastating.  If, however, the Saracen mounted archers and light cavalry could use their advantage in being lighter and faster to prevent the knights from closing, and reel around to shower them with arrows, taking down their horses, then the knights would quickly find themselves besieged and surrounded.  Infantry support would then be required to extricate the knights.  To prevent this, disciplined Frankish knights would not charge too far so as to outrun their infantry protection, but discipline among the hot headed knights was a perpetual bane of Crusader armies.  As the enemies became familiar with each other, it became increasingly difficult for the Franks to close with their enemies as they desired.  Tactics continued to evolve until the advantage in the field swung in the Saracens’ favor, as the Saracens became expert in refusing a shock engagement and in surrounding the Franks knights, while simultaneously evolving heavy infantry and a knightly class that could fight hand to hand with the Franks when it became necessary.  By the time of Saladin, three generations after the First Crusade, the military advantage was nearly gone.  

In addition to the decreasing utility of the preferred Frankish tactics, the Crusaders were also weakening because of other causes.  Psychologically, the mystique of invincibility built up after the First Crusade was already gone, having been wasted by the dismal failure of the Second Crusade which had accomplished nothing except alienating some allies of the Crusader state.  Even more debilitating was the fact that Outremer, despite its prosperity and the promised heavenly rewards for all who chose to devote their lives to the Crusade, failed to attract enough immigrants from Europe to create a sufficient pool of manpower for its defense.  The bulk of the armed forces were provided by the personal retainers of the limited number of Frankish lords holding estates in Outremer, and by the soldiers of the Military Orders, in the Holy Land primarily the Templars and the Hospitallers, who, though being professional and veteran soldiers, were bitter rivals, which led to constant fighting over strategy in the field, insubordination, and reckless charges to show up their counterparts, of the kind that doomed the very promising Fifth Crusade in Egypt.  However, the vast majority of these permanent troops were needed to garrison the vital defensive fortress network.  

Therefore, unless a major Crusader army arrived from Europe, in order to mount any meaningful campaign, garrisons had to be reduced and the loss of one major battle by the royal army in the field therefore had the potential to lead immediately to the collapse of the carefully created defensive network of castles and cities that underpinned Frankish control.  As a result, armies on offensive campaign were staffed largely by knights on temporary visit and mercenaries, and were not able to achieve anything significant, while defensive campaigns exposed the kingdom to a catastrophic collapse, of the exact kind that followed the Battle of Hattin.   Ultimately it was this loss in the demographic struggle, plus the inability to evolve due to its chaotic political structure as discussed below, that doomed the state of Outremer, while a constant infusion of settlers allowed its sister Crusades in Spain and in the Baltic to achieve great success.

In 1180s, the Crusader kingdoms and Saladin’s personal state, extending from Egypt to Syria and Iraq had a peace treaty in place.  This peace treaty was viewed as essential by the peace party, because of the obvious disparity in power between the waning Kingdom of Jerusalem, led by a leprous king and torn by bitter rivalries between the barons and the Military Orders, and Saladin's warmachine streching from Egypt to Turkey. However, the war party, led by Reynald of Chatillon, whose possessions deep in Transjordan thrust out like a thorn into the routes linking Egypt, Arabia, and Syria together, felt that to allow Saladin to begin the inevitable war on his schedule would be suicidal, and that the only chance for the Crusaders was to goad Saladin into a precipitous assault, the defeat of which would destroy his standing as the self declared protector of the Muslim world from the Crusader danger.  The unfortunate power vacuum in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which is discussed at length below, allowed a lot of leeway for individual lords to act in accordance with their principles without being bound by the views of others or even of their king.  Reynald therefore threw down the gauntlet on behalf of all Franks in Outremer by first attacking and capturing a large caravan proceeding in reliance on the peace treaty, and then by trying to capture the Qaba stone holy to the Muslims and to disrupt the Red Sea trade routes by launching ships raid into the Red Sea and landing raiders on the holy coast of Arabia.  Saladin could not let this pass.  

Saladin’s grand army invaded Outremer from Syria late in the season, penetrating to the Sea of Galilee and besieging the major fortress city, Tiberias, which belonged to Raymond of Tripoli.  Count Raymond advised that the Franks not take the field against the Saracens, but allow the brutal summer heat to wear down the offensive, even if this meant allowing Tiberias, where Raymond’s own wife was trapped, to fall.   This dishonorable option was rejected by the war party, and the entire force of the Kingdom of Jerusalem army set out in the burning heat from Jerusalem across the dry hills, taking with it the garrison troops from fortresses all through the kingdom, including the force required to defend Jerusalem, almost the entire strength of the Military Orders (also drawn by stripping garrisons from vital fortresses), and sizeable contingents from the Count of Tripoli and the Prince of Antioch.  

Inexplicably, as the army approached to a day’s march from Lake Kineret, the King instructed water carts to be left behind and for each man to carry only enough water for one day.  Perhaps the King hoped to make a lighting descent upon Saladin’s besieging army around Tiberias, and did not want the baggage train to slow down the advance.  But Saladin was not sitting idly waiting to be attacked.  The Saracen force, which significantly outnumbered the Franks, was spread out all across the Frankish line of advance, denying the knights any compact stationary formation to charge at, but instead showering the marching Franks with arrows as they moved.  This greatly slowed down the march, as infantry had to walk in tight formation with shields raised to protect the precious horses who were most vulnerable to the arrow fire, and crossbowmen deployed to the edges and returned fire.  The entire formation inched along, with more and more men falling wounded.  By nightfall, the army was still far from the lake, its water supplies were gone, there were hundreds of wounded, and the camp, which was hastily set up on the adjacent rocky hills known as the Horns of Hattin was immediately besieged by a huge Saracen force, which taunted the thirsty Crusaders through the night by pouring water on the ground.  The lack of water and wounds took the Frankish horses out of the equation, meaning that the knights would have to fight on foot, destroying the possibility of charging to break the enemy line that was the only real hope of victory against the much more numerous foe.  

On the next day, the Battle of Hattin commenced in full, with waves of Saracen soldiers assaulting the Frankish camp through the day, with the battle line pushing ever upward, toward the King’s tent.  Although the Franks still enjoyed the advantage in close fighting, the heavily armored knights were passing out from thirst and heat, as fresh Saracen reinforcements continued to renew the assault.  The slaughter among the Christians was incredible, and afterwards, Saladin ordered the execution of all Military Order prisoners, setting off a chain of prisoner executions that would persist through the Third Crusade.   Following this rout, the defenseless fortresses of inland Outremer surrendered in droves, and the city of Jerusalem itself had to capitulate.  Only at the coast were the remaining Frankish forces able to mount some resistance, enough to enable the reinforcements arriving from Europe with the Third Crusade to reverse the tide sufficiently to establish a weakened but still viable Kingdom of Acre.  

The agony of Outremer lasted another century.  By the time it was over, entirely new forces and tactics were characterizing warfare in the region.  The arrival of the Mongols, who took the mounted horseman tactics to the next level and were able to easily decimate both the Saracen and the Frankish armies trying to stand against them, redrew the map of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but the Mongols were too far away to dominate Palestine itself.  After the Crusader states missed the opportunity to ally with the Ilhanid Mongol khanate centered in Persia, because of the almost superstitious fear the Europeans had for the Mongols, they were snuffed out by a resurgent Egypt using Mameluke slaves trained in the Mongol style of warfare to resist the Mongols and rout the Franks.  By that time, the Crusading movement in the Middle East was essentially dead, and energies had turned to the less heavily defended targets of Spain, the Baltics, Greece, and North Africa.

The reasons for this decline and extinction are not just military, demographic, or economic in nature.  In my view, Outremer was both blessed and saddled by a system of governance unlike any at the time in Europe, or the world for that matter.  Unlike the Baltic crusade, which was run dictatorially by the Teutonic Order, or the Spanish crusade, which was run by the royal families and the traditional noble assemblies of the northern Spanish Christian states, Outremer was a hodgepodge of every medieval governing tradition imaginable.  The Kingdom of Jerusalem was of course ruled by the King, but the King was often weak, absent, a minor, resulting in effective rule devolving to regents, baronial councils, and various ambitious favorites.  The Count of Tripoli and the Prince of Antioch, the other Christian princes in the region whose support was vital for common defense, were not bound by any feudal loyalty to the King of Jerusalem, and were therefore often pursuing their own strategy and diplomacy in contradiction to the King.  Further adding to the complexity was the presence of other groups within the Kingdom which also were not obligated to obey the King.  The Italian cities had created de facto independent quarters for themselves, immune from local taxation and regulation, in return for the valuable naval support and commerce they provided.  The inhabitants of these quarters did not render military service, and often fought each other in the streets if their mother cities went to war.  The Military Orders technically owed loyalty only to the Pope, and practically speaking, did not obey anybody and functioned as states within the state, and at war with each other.  

This created a very pluralistic system which relied on consensus or common danger to propel the various factions into action, but which the rest of the time was little more than a free for all, with the barons, knights of the orders, Italians and others each pulling in their own direction.  This anarchic situation could have been overcome by a powerful personality, but throughout the twelfth century, fate conspired to prevent the emergence of a strong monarch in Jerusalem.  Promising candidates either died too quickly, or were assassinated by rival factions.  The high mortality rate also plagued the baronial families, as malaria and constant warfare removed the best and the brightest, who were too often replaced by opportunists from Europe who, having failed to make it at home, grasped at the chance to marry a wealthy widow in Outremer and loot her estates and who were thus little inclined or qualified to participate in the government and defense of the Kingdom. As a result, there was no effective government in Jerusalem and the state drifted, unable to change course or to reform itself in the face of changing conditions and emerging threats.

The Israeli story has many parallels to the above. When European Jews arrived in Palestine, they had an immediate and overwhelming advantage over the local population in their understanding of modern military tactics and their level of education which allowed a competent officer corps to quickly emerge.  After the Holocaust, this advantage increased further through the influx of many people with experience in World War II, and also of thousands of people who no longer feared death, and felt that death on the battlefield was a good outcome compared to what they had endured.   So even though the Jews were outnumbered and outgunned by the Arab armies, they were better commanded and much better motivated, and made tenacious and smart fighters.  The Arab armies on the other hand were mostly made up of peasant conscripts led by British trained but generally high handed and incompetent officers, and entirely unsupported by anything like a General Staff, which was essential when fighting uncoordinated campaigns on many fronts against an enemy enjoying the advantage of interior lines.  The only Arab formation which fought effectively during the 1948 War of Independence was the Arab Legion, which was actually commanded by British officers.

The Israeli advantage only increased following the foundation of the state. Quick industrialization allowed Israel to create a Navy and to supply their soldiers.  Purchases on the European war surplus market, as well as some sales by the French allowed Israel to acquire armor and air power which it did not have in 1948.  The constant state of low grade war that existed post 1948 also led to the rise of a professional officer corps and of veteran elite units skilled at small unit commando operations. The Arabs, while still enjoying an advantage in manpower and materiel, were still handicapped by the same problems of discipline, training, command and control of their armies, and their lack of coordination with each other.  Thus, in 1967, the Arab rout was even more complete.  

However, the Arabs were not incapable of learning from their defeats. By 1973, some adjustments in tactics were made, the soldiers were given simpler tasks, the officer corps received more training from their Soviet advisers, and the Yom Kippur War was far from a one sided beating like 1967 was.  The standout success for the Arab military effort was the high number of Israeli tanks destroyed by Egyptian small mobile teams armed with portable anti-tank missiles.   These lessons were further driven home by the performance of the Syrian Army during the Lebanon War in the 1980s.  Again, Syrian soldiers succeeded in destroying a large number of Israeli tanks operating in small mobile teams, but failed to hold ground against the Israeli assault.  Based on this experience, the Hizbollah guerilla army arose, which became highly adept at ambushes and surprise attacks on Israeli units and positions, and did not give Israel the chance to bring its firepower to bear on any fixed position.  Such fixed positions as Hizbollah did have were in populated areas, preventing Israel from being able to bring its entire artillery and air firepower advantage to bear and forcing Israel to send in foot soldiers who could be engaged on more or less equal terms.  

The success of asymmetrical warfare against Israeli forces, which had grown too complacent fighting the inferior conventional forces of the Arab states, galvanized the Palestinians, who had to that point pinned their hopes on relief from the outside, to launch their own guerilla war, and thus the intifada period began.   To a certain extent, Israel was able to counter the effectiveness of the guerilla war in Palestine by utilizing its excellent intelligence apparatus in the territories and using targeted strikes and assassinations to reduce the necessity for difficult and costly counterinsurgency operations by conventional army forces.  Because the intifada until recently had so many aspects more akin to a terrorist campaign than a guerilla war, it was not viewed as dangerous to Israel’s existence.  But the Second Lebanon War in 2006 really brought the point home.  Israeli forces suffered a very high rate of casualties while being unable to stop Hizbollah rocket fire or take out its command networks or inflict meaningful casualties.  This war was Israel’s first indisputable defeat since its founding.  The second followed shortly in the Gaza invasion this winter, which also failed to stop rocket fire and failed to take out Hamas’ command networks, although Hamas’ relative weakness compared to Hizbollah and the lack of good defensive terrain in Gaza meant that the casualties suffered by Hamas were higher and the Israeli casualties were lower.  However, even in this war in its own occupied zone against a foe that is mainly a terrorist organization rather than a guerilla army, Israel clearly failed to achieve victory.  

It has now become clear that the Arabs had evolved new tactics and Israel has thus far failed to counter them.  However, several of the other factors that doomed Outremer are not present. Israel has to a large extent succeeded in brining in enough settlers to make themselves a viable economy and create an adequate pool of military recruits.  The Arab world has not been unified, and subsequent Western crusades, most notably the American invasion of Iraq have at least temporarily weakened or cowed powerful potential opponents to Israel.  It remains to be seen whether Iran can actually follow though on its regional ambitions, its expansion drive is only in its earliest stages although some of the early signs are good, but it is sure to encounter growing opposition from other regional players and the global powers before it is allowed to attain any significant power.

The other open question is whether Israel’s unique governance structure will become a millstone around its neck, preventing innovation and bold action as in the case of Outremer. Israel’s parliamentary system produces a plethora of parties, each pulling in its own direction.  The leaders of these parties are more interested in getting ministerial powers for themselves than in the programs of their own parties, let alone the welfare of the state as a whole.  At the same time, the Jewish religious community exercise a power over the state far in excess of its numbers.  Despite not having really participated in the foundational struggle, and not even recognizing the state of Israel or rendering military service, the religious right is viewed as a kind of mascot, or unifying glue, that is essential for Israel’s long term survival by maintaining a Jewish identity.  

This misguided view that the identity and future of Israel is tied to the precepts of a millennia old religion the tenets of which are themselves disputed and have evolved over time, is reminiscent of the view of the Kingdom of Jerusalem is religious institution fist, state second.  The priests and rabbis exercise inordinate power, and even highly rational secular leaders find themselves formulating policy based on the pronouncements of the religious orders regarding God’s will.  This is a suicidal policy for any state to take, particularly a state besieged by enemies on all sides. Ultimately it was the Crusader’s faith that God would not abandon them in to the hands of the infidels that led them, without water, to the Horns of Hattin, with their hopes pinned to the True Cross and the Holy Lance relics which were carried by the priests at the head of the army.  Surely God would not let such relics fall to the enemy, they reasoned as they continued to march farther and farther from the last source of water and into full encirclement by a vastly larger and better supplied army.   Of course after the loss, nobody blamed God, but only the sinfulness of the Crusaders who caused the Divinity to turn his face from them.

Similarly, many even secular Israelis today, conditioned by an education system that systematically conflates biblical myth and ancient history together, rest their faith in the fact that God has brought the Jews to Israel, it is their Holy Land, and therefore He will see this experiment through and not allow a second Holocaust.  But as the history of the Jews in Israel shows, God is quite willing to allow enormous calamities to befall his people, and to justify it through some half mad prophet as a punishment for their insufficient piety.  

Meanwhile, the religious sects that have become the sacred cow of Israel do not by and large even serve in the Israeli Army, because they do not recognize the state, but feel no similar compunction about accepting state welfare funds to support their vast families while they spend their days studying the Talmud. Among the few heartening developments in Israel lately has been the push to get the Hasidim to serve in the armed forces, which has met with some limited success.

It is this irrational religious dominance over state policy and the political system that supports it while working against the emergence of any dynamic and innovative leadership that is the most worrying parallel between Outremer and Israel for me. Regardless of how visionary some emerging leader may be, if he ever rises to power in Israel, he will have to deal with his intransigent coalition partners, who are only out to benefit their pet causes and themselves.  The settler movement, the religious parties, the Army, the unions, and so on and on, have to be represented in any viable government and will without fail derail any innovative policy that might threaten their particular fiefdoms.  And then God help that leader if he suggests that perhaps some of the more absurd Talmudic prohibitions regarding forbidden behavior on the Sabbath, for example, might have to be reformed to allow the state to function effeciently. Saddled with such a system, it is no wonder that Israel is finding itself drifting more and more off course and failing to adapt to ominous developments all around it.  I do not have a good feeling about how this one will end.  

Originally posted to Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 02:25 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tip jar and link (24+ / 0-)

    Part 1 for those who might be interested.

    Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

    by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 02:26:41 PM PDT

  •  Military technology (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxado, Terra Mystica, Marcion

    There is another parallel in the area of military technology which you skirted over. In 1948 the Israelis had the use of technically superior aircraft, including those smuggled out of the USA for which an American served a prison sentence.

    Similarly at the time of Saladin, western Europe was a technological and scientific backwater. Saladin's armies had the advantage of light high quality steel swords. The Crusaders on the other hand relied on brute force to wield their far heavier and clumsier iron ones.

    The execution of the  Military Orders was a practical and virtually the only solution to the problem of what to do with them. They were the Christian Taliban of their day - monks dedicated to military action. They could not be released nor could they be ransomed or put into slavery.

    It should also be remembered that under the Saracens, the holy sites in Jerusalem were open to all, in stark contrast to the situation under the Franks.

    "My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza." Sir Gerald Kaufman MP

    by Lib Dem FoP on Thu May 21, 2009 at 02:42:00 PM PDT

    •  good points (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      However, I do not see the very small airforce Israel had access to during 1948 to have been so dispositive. Certainly when compared to the role air power had in 1967, it was negligible and I didn't want to give the impression there was any similarity there. By and large you would have to agree that the advantage in materiel in 1948 lay with the Arab armies armed and sometimes officered by the British.

      I cannot dispute the swords, but have to point out that plate armor and crossbows were important innovations that gave for example Richard the chance to regain a lot of ground during the Third Crusade. Ultimately I tend to think political structure and leadership are more important that what swords each side had.

      As for the Military Orders, Saladin certainly had his reasons and was not known to act rashly or out of simple cruelty.

      Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

      by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:00:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  '48 and '67 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oblomov, Everest42, Terra Mystica

        were two very different stories, different motivations, objectives, and methods available.  
        To link the two as part of a natural historical continuum is is specious historical fallacy.  Look at Israel's strike on Egypt in '56

        Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

        by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:11:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

          It's this sort of historical divide that allows people to call for a return to pre-1967 borders, as if these were somehow more legitimate, reasonable or rightful in some way. Both sets of borders were arrived at by force and conquest, just because one set is older and more confining for Israel than the other doesn't make them ipso facto legitimate. The only source of legitimate borders is demography and military power, any border drawn without reference to this is unsustainable.

          Israel was in a nearly constant state of guerilla war with the neighboring states from 1948 to 1967, there is no bright dividing line. Isrel did in 1967 what it would have liked to have done in 1948 if it had had the army, general staff and military technology.

          Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

          by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:17:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, the roots of '67 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            go back to '48.  Territorial expansion, establishment or improvement of defensible borders are reasonable strategic objectives, if not always legitimate.

            Israel's invasion of Egypt in '56 was in no way a guerilla war or a counter insurgency.

            Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

            by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:23:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the '48 borders are the only (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              internationally legitimate ones.  The urge for expansion notwithstanding.

              Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

              by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:24:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  why? (0+ / 0-)

                They were not based on the partition plan, but on teh progress of Israeli armies up until the date of the ceasefire. I don't believe the resolutions of the Cold War UN create any legitimacy one way or the other.

                The taking of the Suez canal was in essense a bold unsustainable raid, very reminiscent of Crusader times.

                Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

                by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:36:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Your "beliefs" (0+ / 0-)

                  really don't have much meaning or relevance. The borders of the partition were established.  Both Israel and the Arab adversary rejected them.  The rest is history

                  Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

                  by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:41:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  well then (0+ / 0-)

                    if the partition borders were rejected, what makes the 1948 borders so legitimate in your mind?

                    Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

                    by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:43:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The borders of (6+ / 0-)

                      Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt are well defined and internationally recognized. I don't think that anyone disputes these borders.

                      Israel recognizes only one border legislatively.
                      It is everything else other than theses internationally recognized borders (Golan not withstanding, Israel recognizes it as Syrian despite the rhetoric).

                      All the rest is recognized by Israel as Eretz Yisrael in its laws.

                      The letter by the Israeli Government to the US government explains what Eretz Yisrael is in Israeli law. It is the land of Israel-Palestine: i.e.,  the 1948 borders.

                      The President
                      Camp David
                      Thurmont, Maryland

                      17 September 1978

                      Dear Mr. President:

                      I have the honor to inform you, Mr. President, that on 28 June 1967 - Israel's parliament (The Knesset) promulgated and adopted a law to the effect: "the Government is empowered by a decree to apply the law, the jurisdiction and administration of the State to any part of Eretz Israel (Land of Israel - Palestine), as stated in that decree."

                      On the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel.

                      Menachem Begin

                      "As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide." Barack Obama

                      by palestinian professor on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:14:22 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  After WW2 (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Fire bad tree pretty

                      the community of nations decided there was a better way to try.  Israel took their half a loaf and then went after the rest.  The Palestinians were caught in the middle

                      Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

                      by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:15:22 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in 1948, Israel had the advantage in troop numbers and in weapons. While the Jordanian army suffered from the weapons embargo, Israel received arms from the USSR via Czechoslovakia. Overall, advantage Israel.

        "In the Event of invading [Arab] forces were limited to approximately 30,000 men. The strongest [consider this fact while reading the next quote] single contingent was the Jordanian one, already described. Next came Egyptians with 5,500 men, then the Iraqis with 4,500 who ..... were joined by perhaps 3,000 local irregulars. The total was thus around eight rather under strength brigades, some of them definitely of second-and even third-rate quality. To these must be added approximately 2,000 Lebanese (one brigade) and 6,000 Syrians (three brigades). Thus, even though the Arab countries [population] outnumbered the Yishuv by better then forty-to-one, in terms of military manpower available for combat in Palestine the two sides were fairly evenly matched. As time went on and both sides sent reinforcements the balance changed in the Jews' favor; by October they had almost 90,000 men and women under arms, the Arabs only 68,000." (The Sword And The Olive, p. 77-78)

        "Perhaps the most important [of the Arab armies problems] was a crippled shortage of ammunition, owing to the international arms embargo ..., in the case of the Iraqis and Egyptians, long lines of communications. For example, after February 25, 1948, the Arab Legion received no new ammunition for its 20mm guns. Some of the ammunition used by the Iraqi artillery was more than thirty years old; the Syrians had no ammunition for their heavy 155mm guns. Whereas Jewish stockpiles were growing all the times [especially the big arms shipment from Czechoslovakia in May 1948], the enemies were so depleted they stole ammunition shipments for each other. In addition, they were ill-coordinated, technically incompetent, slow, ponderous, badly led, and unable to cope with night operations that willy-nilly, constituted the IDF's expertise." (The Sword And The Olive, p. 95-96)

  •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eiron, Gracian

    Very nice work, I learned a lot.  This could easily become a book.  For those who have further interest Warriors of God by James Reston offers an unforgettable portrait of the Third Crusade, and in particular, the incredible figures of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart.

    Israel in many ways is transnational, with deep resource bases.  With that in mind, the historic parallel is perhaps weak.  In the long run specific leaders, or absence of them, have tremendous impact on the flow of events.
    I am certainly no fan of Israel, but believe they have many things working in their favor, including geography.

    Again, thanks.  A chance to learn is a chance to live.

    The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein -- best book ever, I nominate for a Nobel Prize!

    by xaxado on Thu May 21, 2009 at 02:55:05 PM PDT

    •  I liked that book (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When I got it from teh library, I was afraid it was a fluffy romanticized biographical work, but in particular, it helped me reassess the role of Raynald of Chaitillon, whom traditional historiography too often paints as a one dimensional villain.

      Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

      by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:01:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chahine's cinematic rendering of Salah El Dine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    El Naser, Salah el Dine (19631963 by: Youssef Chahine

    This movie was later turned into Kingdom of Heaven by Ridley Scot.

    Kingdom of Heaven

  •  Nicely done, Tip'd and rec'd (4+ / 0-)

    The single most important thing that unites the fractious Israeli society is an external threat.  If one didn't exist, one would have to be invented.
    More interesting is the way of war (or Peace) in the cultural traditions of the region.  

    War, as a means of settling disputes in the region, in tribal societies, was more often a prelude to negotiations and minor in nature.  Now wsr is an end, not a means.  Something the Europeaans brought to the Levant.  

    Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

    by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 02:58:48 PM PDT

    •  This is an important point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marcion, Fire bad tree pretty

      in discussions of a one-state solution. If the palestinians are abto move from a primarily military Algerian-style struggle for their own state to a primarily political South African-style struggle for the vote it might have the effect of loosening the bonds the hold the fractious forces of Israeli society together by reducing the sense of existential menace. This indeed should be a major objective of such a movement, that is to say winning over a fraction of Israeli society and dramatically reducing the anxieties the fuel intransigence among the rest.

      •  Is that best accomplished (0+ / 0-)

        by establishing a palestinian state without sovereignity over its own airspace and limits on its military power?

        Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

        by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:19:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  any military power (0+ / 0-)

          in the Palestinian state will be simply targets for the Israelis. Take Jordan for example, at some point the smart ruler recognizes that if you cannot achieve parity with your neighbors, you should just let it go and look for international guarantees.

          Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

          by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:21:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  International law (0+ / 0-)

            might differ.  But I don't think the Palestinians or the Arab league, or the international community would accept a hybrid sort of state where Israel could surveill, unilaterally enter, drop some bombs, and leave.  

            Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

            by Eiron on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:29:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This would be a very interesting series (6+ / 0-)

    should you drop your insistence on trying to relate the history of Palestine and its people to current colonialism in Palestine.  It just muddies the readers mind (mine) because the reader prepared for the modern comparison anticipates that comparison and does not fully engage the historical period.

    "As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide." Barack Obama

    by palestinian professor on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:21:42 PM PDT

    •  I know what you are saying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      capelza, Terra Mystica

      I would love to just talk straight history and stay out of the current controversy, but I think there would be a very limited readership, plus it wouldn't really belong on this site.

      But if you want to throw anything in from the Palestinian perspective on either the Crusades or Israel, I would appreciate it, as I am only able to competently present the Western perspective.

      Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

      by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:41:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Outremer lasted two centuries. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Quite an achievement, when you reflect that French Algeria lasted less than 150 years.  British India lasted about two centuries.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:00:52 PM PDT

    •  history is becoming compressed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lysias, capelza, Terra Mystica

      There is a phenomenon that, because of faster communication and travel, history is becoming compressed. Civilizations once lasted for thousands of years, like Egypt, but now a few centuries is all we get.

      It is better to contrast longevity within the same historical period. For example the Baltic Ordenstaat lasted about three hundred years and some of the Crusader states created by that crusade are still with us today as Estonia and Latvia.

      Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

      by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:06:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  United Spain is still with us today. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And the Reconquista was another Crusade.

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:17:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I thought about mentioning that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But then I reconsidered because Spain is a unique case, it was both a reconquest and a crusade, with the elements mixed together. However, I would say that the crusader states of Castile and Aragon ceased to exist once they were united and became the center of the Holy Roman Empire under Charles I. The culture and method of government changed radically. Though this is a very interesting debate in itself.

          Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

          by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:21:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The US would not have been with us had (6+ / 0-)

          European whites insisted that the US be exclusively for US whites.

          The US would not have been with us without the liberal attitudes (that eventually emerged) that rejected racism, exclusivity, and took the equality of humans seriously.  

          I doubt that the US would have been with us had it not been secular.

          The successful western European colonial enterprises  have been characterized by

          1. Decimation of the native population.
          1. Eventual legislative rejection of racism and sectarianism and the provision of equal rights to all citizens.
          1. Citizenship not dependent on religion, ethnicity, and sectarianism.
          1. Reconciliation with the remnants of the native population under the state's jurisdiction.


          "As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide." Barack Obama

          by palestinian professor on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:35:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Great observation! nt (0+ / 0-)

        "Peace be the journey. Cool Runnings!"

        by Terra Mystica on Fri May 22, 2009 at 10:05:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hmmm. (0+ / 0-)

    I would quibble with a few things - on the importance of L'Outremer being a checkerboard of Europe-style principalities without central command and control, for example - but this is an interesting effort. Well done.

    Dear republicans: teabagging is when the gogo-boy slaps his balls into your face. Thanks.

    by MBNYC on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:05:27 PM PDT

  •  Oh goody!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A Marcion Diary!  So sorry I missed Part 1.  I'll have to save this one, until I have time to read.  Isn't it nice to have something to look forward to?

    You're wrong for thinking I'm wrong, so that makes you wrong twice.

    by ohmyheck on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:27:58 PM PDT

    •  come on (0+ / 0-)

      You have to find something in here to shit on. You can't just leave a positive comment like that amd make me feel all good about myself. It seems wrong somehow, I'm going to look at the site rules.

      Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

      by Marcion on Thu May 21, 2009 at 04:39:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know! (0+ / 0-)

        How diabolical of me, to be nice and make you feel good about yourself!  I haven't read it yet, you see.  There is still time to shit on it.  Patience, Grasshopper.  Go smoke a fattie.....

        You're wrong for thinking I'm wrong, so that makes you wrong twice.

        by ohmyheck on Thu May 21, 2009 at 09:01:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK (0+ / 0-)

          Read Part 1.  Hey, you got plenty of Love there! I saw barely any shit-throwing at all.

          I've never read the term "Outre-Mer" before! I googled it, so now I have even MORE to read-but, being a history-lover, this is a good thing. I found Part 1 eye-opening, so now I'm off to Part Deux!  

          You're wrong for thinking I'm wrong, so that makes you wrong twice.

          by ohmyheck on Fri May 22, 2009 at 06:29:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I like this (0+ / 0-)

          Regardless of how visionary some emerging leader may be, if he ever rises to power in Israel (America), he will have to deal with his intransigent coalition partners, who are only out to benefit their pet causes and themselves.  The settler(anti-abortion) movement, the religious parties, the Army, the unions, and so on and on, have to be represented in any viable government and will, without fail, derail any innovative policy that might threaten their particular fiefdoms.

          Ya, tell it to Obama!  He knows only too well!

          I've learned a whole lot, the comments were informative as well.  I agree, doing anything remotely I/P can get dicey. So, on to the Baltic story!  I'm in.  I need to learn that Subscribey-thingy though....

          You're wrong for thinking I'm wrong, so that makes you wrong twice.

          by ohmyheck on Fri May 22, 2009 at 07:36:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and recommended (3+ / 0-)

    because its a well written, novel perspective. And its interesting.

    "As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide." Barack Obama

    by palestinian professor on Thu May 21, 2009 at 05:00:29 PM PDT

  •  Tip'd and rec'd (0+ / 0-)

    I like your writing and historical analyzis. Really interesting stuff.

    I admit it. Capitalism needs reform. But maybe one day, society will be perfect enough for capitalism.

    by MoshebenAvraham on Thu May 21, 2009 at 05:41:09 PM PDT

    •  Do ya think? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My suspicion is that whatever the diarists intention, and whatever the validity of his analysis, most people who glance through this material, the majority of readers, will come away with the following idea:

      Israel = Crusaders = Bad.

      "War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

      by Karmafish on Thu May 21, 2009 at 07:18:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's interesting to see this analysis (6+ / 0-)

    being presented in the west. I'm long since used to Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East arguing that Israel is a colonial enterprise cloaked in religious symbolism in the same way that the Crusades were. I think it's important to have some understanding of the narrative about this issue from the perspective of the people in the Middle East. While I don't think that your diary is necessarily predictive, I think it's a good warning about the changing fortunes of different agents in history and why peace is always a better option than continued conflict.

  •  I appreciate the analysis (0+ / 0-)

    of the current situation and I really like the history lesson.  

    But the analogy of one with the other is silly.

    •  it's not so much an analogy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As an analysis of convergent evolution. Placed in a similar environmental niche, organisms of completely divergent background will evolve very similar organs, etc. to respond to similar stimuli. Just so, when you look at states established in Israel through history, they have had similar challenges and there are parallels to be drawn from their responses. I could have gone back to Phoenicia, in many senses the first state to thrive on the coast in that area and battle the population of the ninterlands to preserve their fragile prosperity, but it would have been even more confusing.

      Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

      by Marcion on Tue May 26, 2009 at 10:44:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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