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July 25, 2014 2:10 am

‘Redemption Song’ of U.S. Lone Soldiers in Israel

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi

Staff Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, one of two U.S. citizens killed in fighting in Gaza last Sunday morning. Photo: Facebook.

Tens of thousands of Israelis attended the funeral of Staff Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli in Haifa Monday night. Carmeli was a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen and a “lone “Žsoldier” in the Israel Defense Forces.”Ž

About 30,000 people attended the funeral of Sgt. Max Steinberg Wednesday. “ŽMax, too, was a lone soldier who had immigrated to Israel on his own from California. “ŽHe served in the Golani Brigade and was killed in Gaza.”Ž

Most of the attendees at the funeral did not know Max. They were simply citizens “Žwho had decided to honor him for his sacrifice to their county — and his.”Ž

What possesses a young man to leave behind all that is good and familiar to “Žembrace a destiny that is at best uncertain, at worst tragic?”Ž

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I suspect that it is the belief that a life lived well is a life lived in the service of a “Žgrand idea, not the attainment of creature comforts.”Ž

What convinces a nice Jewish boy from the San Fernando Valley of Southern “ŽCalifornia to volunteer to fight in an Israeli infantry brigade?”Ž

Perhaps it is the inner peace that comes with knowing that he is dedicating every “Žwaking moment to glorious Jewish sovereignty, not the lame existence of those who “Žvalue personal safety above peoplehood. “Ž

These lone soldiers — what passions fuel a decision to leave the small Texas town of “ŽSouth Padre Island for the blind alleys of the Gaza Strip? “Ž

Could be that it is the acknowledgement that while war is an ugly thing, slavery is “Žthe ugliest of things.”Ž

What strange thoughts occupy the minds of such eccentric young men?”Ž

Probably that in this age of radical individualism, the mere example of non”Žconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a laudable act.”Ž

What do they expect to gain from such a thankless endeavor?”Ž

Maybe to help the Jewish people reach the beckoning candle of peace that has “Žburned brightly for 2,000 years.”Ž

Why do boys like these choose to rush headlong into harm’s way?”Ž

They may think that evil is not only caused by the actions of others, but their “Žinaction as well.”Ž

What song plays in the hearts of foreign nationals who forsake life and home for “Žthe mud, blood and tears that inevitably, inexorably accompany a combat unit “Žcrossing into hostile terrain?”Ž

If I had to guess, I would say it’s “Redemption Song.” The redeemed souls of Sean and “ŽMax, having slipped the surly bonds of earth, have touched the face of G-d.”Ž

May their memories be a blessing.”Ž

Gidon Ben-Zvi blogs at Jerusalem State Of Mind. This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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