The Cost of Outrage

I love this image. It’s a view looking west from the ruins of Masada, perched 1300 feet  above the Judean wilderness. It’s a fortress. Inaccessible and almost impossible to conquer without large troop commitment.

Protest has always been a risky undertaking. The Judaean revolt, according to Josephus – a pro-Roman historian – began in 66CE, provoked by Greeks sacrificing birds in front of a synagogue. The Roman garrison did not intervene and violence spread. Subsequently, Nero appointed Vespasian to crush the rebellion, which culminated in the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70CE. Tacitus records that six hundred thousand men and women took up arms. Those who fled and were caught by the Romans were summarily crucified. A year later, the mopping-up operation culminated in a siege where 10,000 Roman soldiers stormed the fortress at Masada to find almost 1,000 defenders had committed suicide rather than face defeat. Today, new graduates of the IDF are sworn in at a ceremony at Masada, with a climb to the top and the oath ‘Masada shall not fall again’.

Outraged people take risks here, too, and their outrage is often well-founded, since human rights violations are so frequent here as to be almost commonplace. Brave souls publish editorials and articles in the national Press which expose events  and sometimes even individuals, stripping perpetrators of their cloaks of secrecy, woven around family ties and tribal favours. There may be a payoff. Those who engage in such risky activities may feel a little like the defenders at Masada, nervously waiting.

One thought on “The Cost of Outrage

  1. I remember reading a book about Masada when I was about 14. I wish I could remember the title – I'd read it again. The nail biting tension as the holdouts argued about strategy caused me to put the book down at regular intervals, walk around the yard outside to calm down, and then return to see how much closer the Roman soldiers were to the top.
    The experience of the 'brave souls' who strip away secrecy is probably just as tense… if not more so. Once discovered, no stone walls to delay destruction. Risky business.


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