History is the fertile field from which society ought to glean regularly. Perhaps you have seen those late-night programs or news shows that feature a “man on the street” asking unsuspecting folks very basic questions regarding US History or current events. Most respond with embarrassed giggles or the blank stare that says,” I do not know the answer to the question; nor do I have the field of reference to even know what this guy is asking!” The lingering impression, beyond abject cluelessness, is that a significant portion of the voting public is dismissive of anything that does not rattle their particular world. Headlines have belatedly begun to penetrate our sluggish, collective consciousness. It is difficult to remain oblivious, especially in an election year, when everyone is discussing Islamic terrorism in our own backyard, ISIS taking and beheading hostages, Syrian turmoil and massive exodus. Germany squelching shocking rapes by Middle Eastern refugee suspects, over the holidays, Soviets in Syria, Concert murders in Paris, Now, Saudi Arabia and Iran growling, menacingly, at each other! the other night in Philadelphia a man severely wounded a police officer, in the name of Allah, while unloading 13 shots through the window of the squad car!
While this situation is serious and requires decisive action; it is in no way unique to our 21st Century. The world has grown smaller and the weaponry has changed, but History buffs have seen it all before. Tout the peaceful intent of the Koran all day long, but students of history know better. This first week of January marks the 524th anniversary of Muhammad XII, the last emir of Grenada, surrendering his city to the army of Spain. It happened in January 1492.
Recently, our Commander in Chief said every religion is guilty of violent atrocities. He raised comparisons of current Islamic terrorist’s acts to those acts of violence committed during the Crusades in the “Name of Christ”. President Obama;s point, presumably being,”People in glass houses should not throw stones” or question the wisdom regarding hoards of “refuges ” flooding into Europe, or immigrants to the US who chose to shoot up Christmas Parties in California.
This excuse for bad behavior has been bandied about in recent years. I have noticed posts on Facebook noting that Hitler was a Christian and look at all the murder and genocide which he caused. These types of arguments generally go unchallenged. This complicit silence may be attributed to a overt bent for political correctness, an aversion to be offensive to anyone regardless situation or facts, a media bias in favor of the current administration or to a wholesale lack of historic knowledge. I couldn’t say for sure! I don’t need to lump all Muslims into a common violent heap to make accurate historic assessments or realize the wisdom and need to be excessively cautious in 2016!
However, I do feel compelled to offer this rebuttal:
1) The Crusades happened 900 years ago, depending on which Crusade you are discussing, and thus has little real bearing on comparative behavior to actual horrendous behavior in 2016 unless or until Pope Francis calls the faithful to action.
2) The Crusades were launched in answer to steady and violent, Islamic incursion into Europe with Muslims practically on the Pope’s doorstep in Italy. The motive was fear of beheading and the goal was to preserve Christianity and push violent invaders back and retake the Holy Land into the bargain. Violent Jihadism is not a new problem. It is an old problem that has, once again, raised it’s ugly head!
3) While one must agree that Christians have at various times, done some ugly things in the name of Christianity. NONE of these things were advocated by Jesus Christ in word, deed, example, his sermons or future writing by his disciples. Jesus, a Jew, was and is, all about LOVE….sacrificial love. Love your enemy, turn the other cheek and forgive everyone. Therein lies the pivotal difference, and cannot be said of the writings of Prophet Mohammed or his disciples.
4) Just because someone like Adolf Hitler claimed to be a Christian does not make it so. Nothing in Hitler’s behavior, writings or decrees or interests indicates Christian beliefs. He was known to be an avid follower of the Occult.
Since this week marks the notable 1492 anniversary of ejecting Muslims from Spain, I thought it interesting to see what else occurred during that pivotal yea: Spain decreed that all Jews who didn’t convert to Catholicism would have to leave(presumably without their assets). The Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible, were first printed. The first papal conclave was held in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Sicily decreed that 100 thousand Jews would have to leave. And a sea captain re-approached the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, seeking permission to find a new route to the East Indies.
Christopher Columbus has fallen out of favor of late with the politically correctness police! Revisionists apply 21st Century mores to 15th Century frontier society, now demonize all accomplishments of this explorer. His unfortunate governing of the native people of what is now modern day Haiti and Cuba, whom he stumbled across while looking for a route to the East, has tainted his entire story. We must remember it was a different era, with different standards and there was a lot happening in European 1492! What were the motivations which launched this explorer into unknown waters? Who was Christopher Columbus and what was his real story?
I found this CNN report from 2012 revealing information now thought to be the story behind the story of Christopher Columbus:
Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.
Columbus, who was known in Spain as Cristóbal Colón and didn’t speak Italian, signed his last will and testament on May 19, 1506, and made five curious — and revealing — provisions.
Two of his wishes — tithe one-tenth of his income to the poor and provide an anonymous dowry for poor girls — are part of Jewish customs. He also decreed to give money to a Jew who lived at the entrance of the Lisbon Jewish Quarter.
On those documents, Columbus used a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. He ordered his heirs to use the signature in perpetuity.
According to British historian Cecil Roth’s “The History of the Marranos,” the anagram was a cryptic substitute for the Kaddish, a prayer recited in the synagogue by mourners after the death of a close relative. Thus, Columbus’ subterfuge allowed his sons to say Kaddish for their crypto-Jewish father when he died. Finally, Columbus left money to support the crusade he hoped his successors would take up to liberate the Holy Land.
Estelle Irizarry, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, has analyzed the language and syntax of hundreds of handwritten letters, diaries and documents of Columbus and concluded that the explorer’s primary written and spoken language was Castilian Spanish. Irizarry explains that 15th-century Castilian Spanish was the “Yiddish” of Spanish Jewry, known as “Ladino.” At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b’ezrat Hashem (with God’s help). Observant Jews have for centuries customarily added this blessing to their letters. No letters to outsiders bear this mark, and the one letter to Diego in which this was omitted was one meant for King Ferdinand.
In famed Nazi hunter, Simon Weisenthal’s book, “Sails of Hope,” he argues that Columbus’ voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for the Jews in light of their expulsion from Spain. Likewise, Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist at Stanford University, concludes that Columbus was a deeply religious man whose purpose was to sail to Asia to obtain gold in order to finance a crusade to take back Jerusalem and rebuild the Jews’ holy Temple.
In Columbus’ day, Jews widely believed that Jerusalem had to be liberated and the Temple rebuilt in order for the Messiah to come.
Scholars point to the date on which Columbus set sail as further evidence of his true motives. He was originally going to sail on August 2, 1492, a day that happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples of Jerusalem. Columbus postponed this original sail date by one day to avoid embarking on the holiday, which would have been considered by Jews, of any era then or now, to be an extremely unlucky day to set sail. (Coincidentally or significantly, the day he set forth was the very day that Jews were, by law, given the choice of converting, leaving Spain, or being killed.)
Columbus’ voyage was not, as is commonly believed, funded by the deep pockets of Queen Isabella, but rather by two Jewish Conversos and another prominent Jew. Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez advanced an interest free loan of 17,000 ducats from their own pockets to help pay for the voyage, as did Don Isaac Abrabanel, rabbi and Jewish statesman.
Indeed, the first two letters Columbus sent back from his journey were not to Ferdinand and Isabella, but to Santangel and Sanchez, thanking them for their support and telling them what he had found.
The evidence seem to bear out a far more complicated picture of the man for whom our nation now celebrates a national holiday and has named its capital.
As we witness bloodshed the world over in the name of religious freedom, it is valuable to take another look at the man who sailed the seas in search of such freedoms — landing in a place that would eventually come to hold such an ideal at its very core.
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Anyone of Jewish heritage, sailing from Spain just ahead of forced conversion or expulsion raises compelling questions. A sea captain sailing with patronage of numerous, prominent Jewish backers leads me to wonder if secondary goals- beyond personal gain on investment were afoot in this expedition. Certainly, any 15th Century Jew had long corporate memories of persecution and bigotry. Was Columbus’ purpose confined to enriching Ferdinand and Isabella and finding fame and fortune for himself? Might his dogged determination to find trade routes which avoided Muslim strongholds for Imperial Spain cloaking his hopes to fund a Promised Land Liberation from Arabs and Christians for future re-settlement by his people? Perhaps he hoped these explorations would discover sanctuary for desperate Jewish Ex-Pats far from the long arm of Catholic Europe? Considering the uncertainty of the times, none of these goals ought to be thought of as mutually exclusive!
Columbus’ discoveries met with mixed reviews and little profit in his lifetime- for himself or investors. Whatever his stated or secret goals, his discovery of the America’s in 1492 eventually provided a land of opportunity and safety for Jews who found their way to these shores. The USA, according to census records has more Jews than even the nation of Israel, to date. It is this author’s belief that America’s historic welcoming of Jewish immigrants and our more current support of Israel since 1948 which are a cornerstone of our National blessing.(Genesis 12:3)
An oft quoted adage of undeniable wisdom states that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Yet, sometimes, it is what we didn’t know about our history and the characters who hacked it out of the wilderness which turns out to be much more fascinating and informative! Sometimes, in our own adventures we set sail looking for the “India” and wind up beached in the Caribbean! Our current perception can look like total failure, financial calamity or an unfortunate turn of events! A look back with the perspective of time and wisdom gained, may well reveal the precious, perfect navigational plan of God Almighty!