Israel and the Crusaders?

Leo Rennert
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat draws a faulty parallel between the perils that doomed Christian Crusader rule in the Holy Land and Israel's challenges as a Jewish state in a hostile neighborhood ("Israel And Outremer" op-ed page, June 7).

Douthat's argument that Israel, like the Crusaders, is isolated in the world fails to take into account that, despite the sound and fury over the flotilla incident, Israel recently became a full-fledged member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development -- the premier international club of developed nations.  Palestinian attempts to block its accession were resoundingly rejected.

Israel also has robust trade relations with Europe, India, China, and other major players.  Its tourism industry attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.  And despite some disagreements with the White House, it retains a wide range of political, economic and security ties with the United States.  The Crusaders had no such advantages in the world of the 12th Century.

Douthat's further argument that Israel is an alien Crusader-like conqueror and a soon-to-be Jewish minority west of the Jordan River, also doesn't hold up to historical and demographic reality.  Unlike the Crusaders, Jews have been an indigenous people in the Holy Land for thousands of years.   Even after the Roman conquest, there remained a continuous Jewish presence there to this very day.  Also, recent studies show that, with a rising Jewish birth rate and a declining Palestinian/Arab birth rate, the so-called demographic "time bomb" has lost much of its potency.

While the Crusaders were foreign implants, Israel today is firmly rooted in its ancient home.  And the perils it faces, while very real, pale in comparison with graver threats to its existence that it confronted and overcame in the first 25 years of its existence -- Douthat's doomsday scenario to the contrary notwithstanding.
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat draws a faulty parallel between the perils that doomed Christian Crusader rule in the Holy Land and Israel's challenges as a Jewish state in a hostile neighborhood ("Israel And Outremer" op-ed page, June 7).

Douthat's argument that Israel, like the Crusaders, is isolated in the world fails to take into account that, despite the sound and fury over the flotilla incident, Israel recently became a full-fledged member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development -- the premier international club of developed nations.  Palestinian attempts to block its accession were resoundingly rejected.

Israel also has robust trade relations with Europe, India, China, and other major players.  Its tourism industry attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.  And despite some disagreements with the White House, it retains a wide range of political, economic and security ties with the United States.  The Crusaders had no such advantages in the world of the 12th Century.

Douthat's further argument that Israel is an alien Crusader-like conqueror and a soon-to-be Jewish minority west of the Jordan River, also doesn't hold up to historical and demographic reality.  Unlike the Crusaders, Jews have been an indigenous people in the Holy Land for thousands of years.   Even after the Roman conquest, there remained a continuous Jewish presence there to this very day.  Also, recent studies show that, with a rising Jewish birth rate and a declining Palestinian/Arab birth rate, the so-called demographic "time bomb" has lost much of its potency.

While the Crusaders were foreign implants, Israel today is firmly rooted in its ancient home.  And the perils it faces, while very real, pale in comparison with graver threats to its existence that it confronted and overcame in the first 25 years of its existence -- Douthat's doomsday scenario to the contrary notwithstanding.