Someone told me recently, “If you want to understand the mindset of the Jewish people, you need to visit two places: Masada and Yad Vashem.” These two monuments to past horrors endured by God’s Chosen People, one ancient and one modern, stand as stark reminders. There has been hatred of the Jewish people in our world for thousands of years. There has been hatred of the Jewish people in our world in recent history. There is still hatred of the Jewish people in our world today, and that hatred is growing.
Masada, the ancient palace and fortress built by Herod the Great, was the final holdout of the Jewish rebellion against Rome that began in 66 AD. Though the city of Jerusalem had been captured and largely destroyed by the Roman forces under the command of Titus in 70 AD, a small band took refuge at Masada, using the stores left there by Herod, and taking advantage of the intricate system for collecting rainwater built for the palace. They were determined not to surrender, no matter what.
The supplies gathered at Masada enabled them to hold out until 73 AD when the Romans finally completed building a massive ramp to wheel siege weapons to the top. But when the soldiers breached the wall, all but two women and five children were dead, choosing suicide over slavery to the Romans. Famed Israeli general Moshe Dyan began the practice of taking elite members of Israel’s armed forces to Masada. They would climb the winding path up the mountain, then in a ceremony at the top would be sworn in for their term of service. The ancient stones echo with their promise, “Masada will never fall again.”
Yad Vashem is Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to ensuring that the world does not forget the six million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust. The Hebrew name is taken from God’s beautiful promise in Isaiah 56:5: “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”
A visit to Yad Vashem is a solemn experience for anyone, but for Believers it carries a powerful weight…the horrors that are remembered and exposed at Yad Vashem largely took place at the hands of those who claimed to Christians and claimed to be acting in the name of Jesus. This widespread slaughter, following centuries of persecution, it is little wonder that many Jewish people think that Christians hate them.
The two places, Masada and Yad Vashem, explain clearly the commitment of the Jewish people to defending themselves. They know full well that they are hated. Once a year the world observes International Holocaust Day on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But every day Jewish people remember the horrors of the past. More than 150,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, and tens of thousands of others around the world are living testimony to the level of hatred directed at them simply because they are Jewish. That is a reason the enemies of Israel expend so much time and energy on denying or minimizing the Holocaust…they know it reveals the evil hatred of the Jewish people too clearly to be concealed or explained away.