The “crusaders” have once again taken over Jerusalem. Wearing chain mail and metal helmets and carrying flags, shields and swords, they arrived Dec. 30 at the prime minister’s residence for another battle. This time, they seek to express their opposition to a government initiative to establish a new community settlement for Druze citizens in the Galilee, in precisely the area where the battle of the Horns of Hattin took place in 1187. As is fitting for warriors, they were not deterred by the rain or the Jerusalem chill. As they surrounded the residence, they held signs that read “Deus vult,” the crusaders’ rallying cry that means “God wills” in Latin.
These protesters are avowed history buffs who annually re-enact the battle of the Horns of Hattin, in which the crusaders were defeated by Saladin’s soldiers. The re-enactment includes full dress, weapons, horses and tactical maneuvers in keeping with the period. They fear this tradition will come to an end and this historically, religiously and archaeologically important area will change forever.