Essay on The Crusades And The Arab Israeli Conflict

1462 Words May 3rd, 2016 6 Pages
Karen Armstrong and Thomas Madden’s respective presentations of the Crusades, seem to present two extreme positions – either the crusaders are intolerant fanatics blindly killing people groups who were never aggressively antagonistic in return; or the Arabs are the fanatics, and the crusaders are selfless soldiers fighting a purely defensive war. Of the two pieces, Armstrong’s analysis of the Crusades is more overtly driven by a modern political agenda, but the belligerent extremes of both Madden and Thompson’s arguments – instead of a more multifaceted analysis that acknowledges reasonable points of the other positions – make both pieces equally unhelpful in understanding the Crusades.
Without presuming to make emphatic declarations about the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it seems necessary to first address the comparison with which Madden and Armstrong engage – the comparison between the Crusades and the modern Arab-Israeli conflict. The present day conflict in the Middle East is primarily between Arabs and Israelis, and the Crusades were (or began as, at least) a conflict between European Christians and non-Christians in the east. To make the comparison between the two wars, Armstrong calls the Crusades “another colonizing movement which had powerful Western backing” (Armstrong, 373) – a confusing statement, since western Europeans were the ones fighting in the crusades, not just backing it. She immediately goes on to present western Europeans as the primary…

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