Friday, May 28, 2010

The New Crusaders: On the Gaza Flotilla

[I submitted this piece to a few papers. I fear, though, it might be a bit too esoteric for that. In the meantime, I've come to agree that we should let them in, and finally put the lie to the idea that Gaza is besieged.]

The Gaza Flotilla: A Medieval Moment

Jeffrey R. Woolf

The flotilla that is wending its way to the Gaza coast is a quintessentially post-modern enterprise; a perfect internet moment. Different codes, different world-views, and different scales of values are in play here. Ironically, the fundamentally disconnected character of the encounter is apparent to none of the players. From the vantage point of the ivory tower, we medievalists can discern the real contours of the unfolding drama.

On the one hand, there are the participants. Driven on by a burning sense of mission, they are determined to smash the inhuman siege of Gaza. Their determination to bring Justice to PalestinePalestine to redeem it from occupation and oppression. Pious Christians all, they sallied forth with the cry: Deus lo VultHumanitas et Justitia volunt. Phenomenologically, they are crusaders. invokes that of their ancestors a millennium ago. They, too, travelled by boat to (God wills it!), on their lips. The intrepid sailors en route at present, are similarly driven by their abiding faith in universal Justice and Liberal Humanism. Their cry might be:

Then, there are the recipients of this aid; the suffering masses of Gaza. There is no question that there are many innocent victims among them. They, however, live in a very different world than their putative saviors. Their society resembles the Palestine into which the ancestors of the Gaza flotilla sallied forth in 1099. It is a totally integrated world that revolves around a deep and abiding Islamic faith. It is a highly stratified world, in which those in power exploit the masses for advancement, both their own and that of the religio-political ideals that they share with those masses. Believing that God has placed them in power, the Hamas government of Gaza (as the Ummayids, Abassids, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottomans and Fatahids) sieze and control the material sustenance the Israel sends to Gaza, in order to strengthen its grip on the strip. Ad majorem Dei gloriam.

And then there are the Jews.

A trained medievalist cannot but be stunned by the feeling that he’s seen this all before. The Jew poisons the wells of Gaza (this time with low grade uranium), and gleefully tortures Palestinian children (as with Simon of Trent). The Jew is rapacious, unfeeling and diabolical. If he sends tens of millions of tons of supplies to the civilians of Gaza, these are either too little, corrupted or ignored. This is certainly understandable. The Jew is eternally condemned for the original sin. Once, it was deicide. For the humanitarians of Sweden, they are guilty of the original sin of returning to Palestinedhimma and establishing their state in the ‘House of Islam.’ For Jews, it is frightening confirmation of the Passover refrain: ‘In every generation they rise up to destroy us.’ and succeeding. For Muslims, they are guilty of the original crime of violating the

The flotilla that is wending its way to Gaza is quintessentially post-modern. It exemplifies the encounter of different, totalistic world-views and cultures that do not understand the ‘other.’ It is also typically medieval. Sincerely held, Faith based worlds, fueled by messianic fervor that only a medievalist can appreciate.


Dov said...

The article loops back on itself at the end and starts again "The flotilla that is wending...". Can you fix this so that we may read the whole thing. Thanks.

AquaIW said...

Very interesting point of view... I would indeed suggest to let them in and "keep them in", see what happens!

Josh said...

So are you happier now that Shaytet 13 made short work of the Turkish crusaders?