TIL Jews fought side-by-side with Muslim soldiers to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders

 

Defending in the Holy Land
The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June–July 1099) in fierce battles. At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known and include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.

Massacre of Jerusalem
Jews fought side-by-side with Muslim soldiers to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders.[4] Saint Louis University Professor Thomas Madden, author of A Concise History of the Crusades, claims the “Jewish Defenders” of the city knew the rules of warfare and retreated to their synagogue to “prepare for death” since the Crusaders had breached the outer walls.[5] According to the Muslim chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi, “The Jews assembled in their synagogue, and the Franks burned it over their heads.”[6] One modern-day source even claims the Crusaders “[circled] the screaming, flame-tortured humanity singing ‘Christ We Adore Thee!’ with their Crusader crosses held high.”[7] However, a contemporary Jewish communication does not corroborate the report that Jews were actually inside of the Synagogue when it was set fire.[8] This letter was discovered among the Cairo Geniza collection in 1975 by historian Shelomo Dov Goitein.[9] Historians believe that it was written just two weeks after the siege, making it “the earliest account on the conquest in any language.”[9] However, all sources agree that a synagogue was indeed burned during the siege.

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