I went to Masada yesterday to meet/see family that I had not seen in close to 20 years. Three amazingly beautiful children I have never met, a cousin’s husband, another cousin’s wife. We woke up early – three of my children and I, and drove the relatively short distance to this desert fortress. I know what happened there, and am always touched.
It is a pilgrimage of sorts, a paying of respect to over 950 people whose legacy remains, almost 2,000 years later. Masada is, in many ways, a symbol of Israel. Masada was our last stand after the Romans invaded our land, took many off to be slaves, murdered others. Those 950 people knew, the night before they died, that in the morning the Romans would conquer the mountain. They had held them off with arrogance, intelligence, and bravery for more than two years, but the inevitable odds had finally turned.
They made a choice in words forever immortalized – the leader, Eliezer, and his council, and in fact every family, knew the choice was freedom or death, and they chose to die. It is a strange reality for a people that really loves life, but it only strengthens how important our freedom is.
I stood on Masada yesterday and I could feel their souls in the air, in the gentle wind that blew. It has been that way very time I have been up on the mountain there. It is strange how you can feel people in certain places, at certain times. It was that way in Poland. I could feel the victims of the Holocaust – nameless and yet forever known to me.
On the way back home from Masada – as Elie began driving up the ascent towards Jerusalem, we passed the ancient city of Jericho, now populated by thousands of Palestinians, and the useless, closed casino they built there – a victim of their own intifada. There’s a restaurant on the right side of the road – it is called “Last Chance.”
Last stand, last chance. Interesting juxtaposition, I thought to myself. And finally, this was a week of honor for many countries, and a week of failure for the flotilla. It never really got off the ground – stopped for a number of reasons. They claim it was sabotage. Who knows if it was or not? “All’s fair in love and war,” they say.
I don’t know if we sabotaged the ships – personally, I hope we did. But I know that nations came out against it. LATMA has a very funny video (see below). And as for the “flytilla” – the attempt to fly into Ben Gurion Airport and disrupt it – that too has failed. As of a short time ago, 6 activists got in and were deported while another 200 are being stopped in Europe.
What it comes down to, perhaps, is that this last stand, this last chance, has perhaps been properly relayed to others who see and understand. Israel has no choice but to monitor what goes in to Gaza – the proof is in the Karine A. I hear the voices of Masada and they encourage us to live, not to die. But they also encourage us to fight, to remember what is important in this life. The winds of Masada spoke to me; it was the same winds that pushed the flotilla back away from our shores.
We are, we remain, we have always been, the people of Israel.