Crusade, or Historic Other by Peter Crowley

In the Acre night, young Palestinian men sat outside shopfronts smoking water pipes and drinking juice. As I walked past them on the streets near the Old City, they may have wondered what sort of crusader I was. Napoleon’s army had tried to mount these walls, where six centuries earlier his ancestors had been more successful, albeit, only temporarily.

After walking through the Old City with the yellow-orange setting sun casting long shadows out from ancient buildings, I ate chicken shawarma at an outdoor restaurant while watching a Palestinian-Israeli man fishing with his two boys. As the sun lowered, they left, and a group of friends dared each other on how far out they could climb on a daunting jetty. I sipped a beer, washing down the shawarma, and was brought back to a Cape Cod jetty, where I’d often urged my younger cousin to act more boldly in the face of the sea’s amorphousness.

At a Christmas party back in the States, a family friend greeted me. After we exchanged “Merry Christmas” to each other, he inquired, “What kind of beer you got there?”

“Effes,” I answered.

“Oh, where’s that from?” he asked warily.

“It’s Turkish,” I replied.

He raised his eyebrows in an alarming mien. With circumspect voice, he said, “Ohhhh…Muslim!?!?!!”

White-robed Frankish knights, with golden crosses emblazoned over their chests, pointed towards the Holy Land from medieval ships sailing the east Mediterranean.

From his white robe, a man’s eyes flitted open for just a second; seated in front of a television, he gestured incoherently. On the TV, one event came to the forefront and was incessantly re-played, until it swallowed all other news. The man seated before the television again closed his eyes, told his fellow knights as they sailed closer to the Holy Land, “We will take care of this problem! We will no longer feel besieged by them! This sacred, stolen land–it will soon be ours!”


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