When Donald Trump travels to Israel later this month as part of his first foreign trip, he plans to give his main speech at Masada, a hilltop fortress soaked with bloody symbolism.
Trump’s trip is theoretically also about advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but speaking at this site—nowadays one of the ultimate symbols of Zionist nationalism—is likely to alienate Palestinians.
But viewed another way, it’s perfectly appropriate: Masada is largely about pageantry, and specifically the pageantry of the underdog.
Trump loves a pageant. Before he was the president of the United States, he was the owner of the Miss Universe Organization. Six years ago, he inquired about whether he could hold the Miss Universe Pageant at Masada, according to Eran Sidis, the spokesman for the Knesset Speaker. It’s unclear when and how Trump first learned about the hilltop fortress, but Masada—synonymous with epic showdowns both gory and glorious—holds a clear appeal to the imagination.
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