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Mention the word “Crusaders” and images of European Christian knights plundering and massacring their way to liberate Jerusalem from the “infidel” come to mind.  And, of course, this being ancient history we need not worry about such matters again.  Right?  Wrong.

We now are witnessing a new call for something like the Crusades of old, this time organized by a number of radical Muslim militants who hope to force their way into Israel with the weight of a million or so latter-day crusaders from around the world.  The instigators of this idea, motivated by the mass movements of the Arab Spring, are a group of Pakistani and Indian Muslims calling themselves the International Committee for Global March on Jerusalem.

Ahmadinejad with an Asian convoy activist. The Hamas emblem appears on the activist's kaffiyeh, partially hidden by the microphone stand (Iran's Mehr News Agency, December 13, 2010)

The Chairman of this outfit, Feroze Mittiborwala, is not new to anti-Israel activism.  He is the organizer of the Asian Convoy to Palestine, which last December left India on its way to Gaza, spent ten days in Teheran where they received an official welcome from President Ahmadinejad (who yesterday declared, “Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime…”) and other senior Iranian figures.  You can read more details of this convoy and its organizers here at the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Feroze Mithiborwala (r) receiving an award from Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, December 22, 2011

After visiting Turkey, the Asian Convoy went to Damascus where they took part in a conference addressed by Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas (see photo). During his address, Mashaal “paid his tributes to Mahatma Gandhi for his inspiring struggle against the colonialism.”  Whoa!  Stop the presses!  The leader of Hamas, the perpetrator of hundreds of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians that also has launched thousands of deadly rockets at Israeli towns, is paying tribute to Ghandi?

I guess even radical Islamist terrorists have a powerful sense of irony.

According to a story in Pakistan’s The Nation (self-described as the “most credible of English language newspapers in Pakistan”) these would be Crusaders will be comprised of “people from different continents including South Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Australia [who] would march towards the Jerusalem from their continents to Jerusalem on March 2012.” (With syntax like that one has to wonder what the least credible Pakistani English language newspapers are like.)

And, just to gain some understanding of their logistical planning Mithiborwala said, “The African caravan will start the march from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and then Jerusalem and after passing through designated routes the Australian caravan will enter the Jerusalem from Lebanon.”

Wow.  As a resident of the Galilee, I should get ready for this parade of Jerusalem-bound Aussies!  I’ll have to plan this carefully lest I miss the spectacle.  Most likely they will march down Highway 70 from the northern border (which, oh joy, passes not far from my house) then hang a left after Yoqne’am to pick up the Yitzhak Rabin Highway (aka Highway 6) and then hang another left on Highway 1 to Jerusalem.  First they’ll have to contend with rush hour traffic and Israeli drivers.  That ought to be frightening enough to scare any would be crusaders from their task!  And, if that doesn’t work, there is always the IDF.

Yes, its a crazy scheme concocted by God-intoxicated fanatics hellbent on starting a Global Holy War. But, then again, the history of human misery resulting from fanatics is older then the original Crusades.  My watchword: take these would-be Jerusalem marchers seriously.

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