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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Dude at Masada

I met the Dude again recently. He's a friend of a friend I don't see much.

The Dude is a lovely fella of Israeli background and has spent quite some time there. He may even have done military service. He's also Jewish. We tend not to talk much about Israel because we tend not to agree on much about that topic.

But I was a little drunk, and I told him I have a picture of Masada up on my wall.

JC: I swear, it hangs above my desk next to the Buddha. I have it there to remind me that Israel fell before and will again.

Dude: That's hilarious. When Israelis visit, they climb to the summit and swear that they'll never let Masada fall again. Everyone in the army has to during their training. But others who aren't in the military will come of their own accord. Even Jews from other countries come and climb up to Masada to swear. It's like an allegiance to Israel.

JC: Really? Is that why they all climb up to the top when there's a perfectly good cable car running all the way to the summit?

Dude: That's for the tourists. I bet you took the cable car. Most young people will climb up the serpent's path. It's a good old hike, but it only takes an hour or so. Only lazy foreigners ever take the cable car.

JC: Or people who don't attribute any mystical significance to marching up a mountain in the desert at dawn when you can get a lift.

Dude: You did take the cable car!

JC: Might have.

Dude: And that's why Israel is here to stay, mate. We can talk about Israel and you'll be passionate and I'll be passionate. You have your opinion and I have mine.
But at the end of the day, it's Israelis who are prepared to march up the mountain in the desert for what they believe in. If you're not prepared to march up the mountain too, how can you expect to overcome those who are?

JC: Were you ever at Masada yourself?

Dude: I took the girlfriend there when I went to visit my parents last year. She loved it.

JC: Well, it is pretty spectacular. How long did it take you to walk the serpent's path?

Dude: She was wearing heels and we had to get back to Tel Aviv later that day.

JC: Cable car's comfy, isn't it?

Dude: So what if I took the path of least resistance that day? You can't climb mountains every morning.

JC: Sooner or later, everyone's got to take the cable car. There was an old fella from the US who took the car up with me when I was there. His daughter was some sort of professor, and he was on crutches, but she left him with me and went to climb.

Dude: But she climbed! She came from America and climbed Masada. The old men can take the cable car as long as there are still younger, stronger people to climb the path. That's why they built the cable car - so that old people could get up there and experience the place.

JC: In summary, people climb the mountain so that there can be a cable car?

Dude: It's the Middle East. People kill themselves and others so that they can live freely. Why are you still trying to make it make sense?

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