Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ibn Warraq: Jews and the Crusades

Ibn Warraq: Jews and the Crusades (Part 10)

Jews and the Crusades

by Ibn Warraq
Part 10
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9
2.4 Further Crusades
Pope Eugenius III and St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached a new crusade in 1146, and its preaching was again followed by the pillaging, looting and killing of the Jews. As Poliakov says, “And what had been only a popular and spontaneous outbreak fifty years before was this time doctrinally exploited by fiery monk-preachers. Thus Abbé Pierre of Cluny in France: ‘What is the good of going to the end of the world, at great loss of men and money, to fight the Saracens, when we permit among us other infidels who are a thousand times more guilty toward Christ than the Mohammedans?’ [1] Thus the monk Rudolf in Germany: ‘…First avenge the Crucified upon His enemies living here among us, and then go off to fight the Turks!’ [2]
There were incidents and massacres in Cologne, Speyer, Mainz, and Würzburg in Germany, and in Carentan, Ramerupt, and Sully in France; the number of victims reaching several hundred. Poliakov claims that what was even more significant was the emergence for the first time of “the accusation of ritual murder, followed by the accusation of the profanation of the Host”. [3] However, perhaps he meant “re-emergence” since the accusation of ritual murder goes back to Classical Antiquity; it is to be found in the writings of Apion [died c. 45-48 C.E.], Posidonius [died c.51 BCE], Apollonius Molon [Ist Century BCE], and Socrates Scholasticus [died c.450 CE.].
Léon Poliakov summarizes the fate of the Jews each time a crusade was embarked upon: “Thus, each time medieval Europe was swept by a great movement of faith, each time the Christians set out to face the unknown in the name of the love of God, hatred of the Jews was fanned into flame virtually everywhere. And the more the pious impulses of the heart sought satisfaction in action, the worse became the Jews’ lot.
“Virtually every time a Crusade was preached, the same consequences could be anticipated. In 1183 (The Third Crusade), there were great massacres in England-in London, York, Norwich, Stamford, and Lynn; twenty years later, at the time of the Albigensian Crusade, there were persecutions in the Midi. When a Crusade was ineffectually preached in1236, massacres also occurred in western France, in England, and in Spain….” [4].
The Crusades showed the vulnerability of the Jews, who in these moments of crises were forced to turn to noblemen and kings for protection. These secular powers protected the Jews since they derived some benefit from them. The Crusades generally, in the words of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, “were firmly imprinted on the historic consciousness of the Jews. This period became singled out in the popular mind as the start of and explanation for the misfortunes of the Jews, although in fact the excesses were only symptomatic of a process which had already been set in motion earlier.” But henceforth the history of the Jews that unfolded was a tragic one since “there now began a period of intermittently recurring massacre and persecution which colored European Jewish experience for centuries to come.” [5]
[1] Dom Martin Bouquet, Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, Paris 1752, [also 1865] Vol. 14, p. 642, quoted by Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism. Vol.I,From the Time of Christ to the Court Jews. Trans. Richard Howard. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003 [Original Edn. in French Calmann-Lévy, Paris, 1955], p. 48.
[2] Account of Rabbi Ephraim bar Jacob of Bonn in Adolf Neubauer and Moritz Stern,Hebräische Berichte über die Judenverfolgungen während der Kreuzzüge, Berlin, 1892, p. 188, quoted by Poliakov, op. cit., p. 48.
[3] Poliakov, Vol. I, p. 49.
[4] Poliakov, Vol. I, p. 49.
[5] Article, “Crusades”, in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd Edn, 2008.

Ibn Warraq is the author of numerous books, including Why the West Is Best and Why I Am Not A Muslim.