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Catfish and Cod
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
 
A quick aside on the latest Palestinian suicide bombing.
(Link path: Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. New York: Modern Library, 2003. p. 47-49.)

In 1099, Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders. The stated reason for the war was to secure the right of pilgrimage for Christians to sites in the Holy Land. (Other reasons, such as plunder, occurred to the leaders and soldiers en route.)

In 1187, Jerusalem was reconquered for the ummah of Islam by the Kurdish hero and master general Saladin, who was feared and respected by Christian and Muslim alike. His war on the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which had stood in relative peace alongside the Islamic caliphates for close to a century, was directly prompted by attacks by a piratical duke, Reynald of Chatillon, who used his base at Kerak, Jordan, to attack commerce and caravans -- civilian targets. The worst attack, which was used by Saladin as the key propaganda element in his call for jihad, was an attack on a caravan traveling on hajj -- pilgrimage -- to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

In 1999, the Al-Aqsa intifada was begun (at the instigation of the government of Yasser Arafat) with a rumor that Israel was planning to deny Muslims the right to pray or make pilgrimage to the Haram al-Sharif (aka Temple Mount, aka Mount Moriah) and the al-Aqsa mosque.

In 2003, Palestinians blew up a bus convoy of ultra-Orthodox Jews returning to a West Bank settlement. The Jews were returning from a prayer expedition to the Western, or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. In a very real sense, they were returning from pilgrimage.

The reason Jerusalem (and, in a lesser way, Mecca and Medina) is a neverending spark-plug for conflict is that threats are continually made, or perceived, to the right of worshippers to make pilgrimage to the various holy sites.

We were speaking of moral equivalence.... ?