Austin Bay writes:
[For Islamic radicals hearing President Obama] "The Crusades" are a premier victim frame tale. Their cultural and religious victimization begins in 1096 (1st Crusade) as rapine European knights attack the Levant. In 1099 these thugs seize Jerusalem from peaceful Muslims. The 2nd through 9th Crusades are follow-on imperial atrocities. By the way, Israelis are just Jewish Crusaders.It's not actually a shaky story at all, although I wouldn't call it a "victim tale." Pope Urban's call for the first Crusade was influenced by two things, both of them immediately contemporary to him:
Obama reinforced this crabbed and distorted but politically powerful claptrap. That's Very Stupid Diplomacy...
This victim tale starts with Yarmuk. The Yarmuk River flows east from Syria through Jordan to the Jordan River. In 636 A.D., somewhere near the river, Muslim Arabs defeated a Christian Byzantine army. Thirty years of conflict with the Persians had exhausted the boys from Constantinople. Their tattered formations were no match for horse-mounted zealots. One of Christendom's wealthiest regions, the Levant, fell to these Arab Muslim warriors. Then they turned on the exhausted Persians.
A counter-narrative: The Crusades and the Spanish Reconquista are belated European responses to Islamic imperialism. Yes, that's shaky. But if you know Muslim Saracens seized Sicily in the ninth century, and Rome was repeatedly attacked (and the Vatican sacked), you can start building a real multiculturalist case for embittered Western European grievance. Je suis Charlie? Naw, je suis Charles Martel (Battle of Tours, 732 A.D.).
1) A request from Constantinople for support against Islamic raids, which had not stopped in 636 but rather had continued for hundreds of years,
2) Successes by Western knights in reversing and recovering territory in Spain that had long been overrun by the Islamic Caliphate.
It is surely unsurprising to learn that it wasn't ancient grievances but immediate events that were motivating him. Don't take my word for it, though: take William of Tyre's. He wrote his history within a century of the liberation of Jerusalem, and had access to the primary sources written by the Crusaders themselves.