The Jewish Kid from Miami That Every American Should Listen To

May 10, 2012 10:54 am 10 comments

Izzy Ezagui is congratulated by Israel's Pesident Shimon Peres. Photo: Izzy Ezagui.

I am not going to praise him. From the short time we spent talking, I get the impression that he wouldn’t appreciate it. Either way, he’s just a regular American kid, a Star Wars geek no less, who happened to have been faced with extraordinary circumstances.

My simple aim is to use my soapbox to share his story, and explain why I think that amid the din of chattering voices that various media channels confront us with daily, his narrative is worth paying attention to.

His name is Izzy Ezagui, he is 23 years old, average height, has dark hair and an awkward smile. Like many young Jews, after visiting Israel a number of times throughout his childhood, at the age of 19 he decided to join Israel’s Defense Forces. He was enrolled in the Kfir Brigade, Haruv Battalion, a non-elite combat infantry unit and went through basic training.

In late 2008 Israel launched Operation Cast Lead and his unit was directed to the battlefield. Three weeks into the campaign, while in a tent pitched at the Gaza border awaiting orders, “he was hit almost directly by a 120mm mortar shell instantly losing his left and dominant arm from just above the elbow.” Three others were also wounded in the attack.

Bleeding profusely, yet fully conscious, he was able to make his way to a nearby shelter where he was treated by medics who quickly transferred him to a hospital in BeerSheva. After two surgeries and a year of rehabilitation he seemed set to join Israel’s 50,000 strong community of disabled war veterans. Instead, he insisted on being allowed to return to his army role.

His request was unprecedented and initially met resistance from IDF officials who questioned his ability to execute basic army procedures. Izzy responded with innovative and practical suggestions. One example is captured in this paragraph from his yet unpublished memoir entitled, Look Mom, No Hand! The Memoirs of a One-Armed Combat Soldier; “Ishy stopped the car as he was backing up and rolled down his window. ”Izzy, we didn’t discuss throwing a grenade” he pointed out. “How do you do it?” he asked, assuming I had already found a solution. Damn… grenades had completely slipped my mind. Throughout training a soldier throws a grenade only once and usually doesn’t throw one again unless it’s during battle.”

“The idea I came up with” he told me, “was to wrap hockey tape around the grenade’s safety ring and yank it out with my teeth. My mother was of course unhappy with my solution because she was worried I would ruin my teeth.”

Eventually he became the first soldier in Israeli history to return to combat after an injury as serious as his, and completed an officer’s course. He led combat soldiers through their training, and received an award from the President of Israel. He tells me that he will return to Israel annually to report for reserve duty for as long as they will allow him.

On Saturday night Izzy launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds that will allow for the publication of his memoir. As of the time of this writing, he has raised $7593 out of $30,000, from 77 different backers, and he has 35 days to go. On Facebook, his story has been spreading like wildfire. I have pledged my support and would encourage all to do the same; I believe that his voice deserves to be heard for the following reasons:

Firstly, it is only once in a rare while that the story of one man captures the story of a people and a relatively small moment in time reflects the journey of an era. Izzy’s experience embodies the challenging narrative of modern day Jewish resurgence, and he calls on us all to face setbacks with renewed vigor and resolve. As nations, the United States and Israel have lost many limbs, but our commitment to our duty to defend and preserve our values and ideals must remain steadfast.

Secondly, around the world and on a daily basis, anti-Semites and media bandits work diligently to portray the IDF as a brute occupying force. Izzy’s project presents an opportunity for ordinary well-meaning individuals to hear from, and interact with, a relatable true face of Israel’s soldiers. Understanding that the Jewish army is an unadulterated force for justice in this world, made up of individuals who ask first and foremost what they can give of themselves to others.

You can watch his video below:

The Author is the editor of the Algemeiner Journal and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

10 Comments

  • Seth Tzizik

    Baruch Hashem. Excellent motivation and patriotism for Izzy’s adopted country. However, would like to point out one small error in the article itself, solely because it affects me personally. I do not mean nor intend to demean what Izzy has done, solely just point out one inaccuracy in the article. My dear father Shlomo (sometimes known as George in America) also joined the IDF in 1948, with one biological leg. He had lost his other leg attributed to a German mortar round while a American soldier in World War 2. The IDF had him hurdle a chair prior to accepting him in the ranks. Mr. Ben Gurion came to America in the early 1970′s to meet and thank my Dad. I know because I was there.

  • Dovid,
    My name is Reina Ezagui,I am Izzy’s mom. I sent you a letter yesterday and I would like to know if you received it. I am HORRIBLE with computers, and its my first time attaching a letter to an e-mail. The things we do for our kids!!
    Please let me know asap so I can figure out how to send it out again if need be.
    Thank you,
    Reina

  • Janice Jess

    An inspitaion to us all. Am Yisrael Chai!

  • Janice Jess

    An inspiration to us all.Am Yisrael Chai!

  • David Ronthal

    Izzy story resembles the story of another great Jewish soldiers, Joseph Trumpeldor. Am Yisrael Chai!

  • i hope his story goes from a book to a film. thanks Dovid for the article. can checks made out to Izzy be sent to you at the Algemeiner to be forwarded to Izzy?

  • Yonni Netanyahu would be proud.

  • Terry Burnett

    Please email details.

  • Craig Brockman

    That’s great – WTG Izzy!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.