By Mordechai Ben-Menachem
The stories tell us, and historians apparently agree, that Texans have a history of extraordinary bravery. Perhaps that is also true today, certainly, I am not qualified to have an opinion on that. Our story of one Son of Texas is a story of extraordinary bravery; that, and a great deal more.
Nissim Sean Carmelli made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) a few short years ago. He came at first on a trip with his family, fell in love with the country and decided to make it his home. He then came alone. He joined the army and volunteered to serve in the Golani Brigade. He was what we call a Lone Soldier.
At the beginning of Operation Protective Edge he was lightly wounded. He returned to continue to fight with his friends and comrades. The day before yesterday, he became the second American citizen to give his life in this iteration of the War with Hamas.
Nissim Sean Carmelli left us a awe-inspiring legacy.
This Lone Soldier draws a clear line between the extraordinary bravery of the Alamo and his own in Gaza; draws a clear line between the Lone Star on the flag of Texas and the Lone Star on the flag of Israel. His life, as short as it was, represents much more than his bravery; it represents respect for freedom and dedication to the ideal that a free people have a right to defend themselves from barbarism.
Nissim Sean Carmelli was killed in Gaza, in the neighbourhood of Sajayiah. I fought in the same city 44 years ago. I was wounded in the same neighbourhood, on the same street. I was also a Lone Soldier in the Army of Israel.
Nissim Sean Carmelli fought and died in an attempt to uproot the terror tunnels built by Hamas. Tens of kilometres of tunnels, tens of thousand of tons of sand excavated. The Gaza Strip is all sand. No tunnel can exist without shoring it up with concrete – massive amounts of concrete. The financial side of those tunnels is a fascinating story. At least ninety percent of the concrete for those tunnels was ordered, purchased and paid for by UNWRA. That’s right, by your tax dollars – the United States finances 36 percent of the UNRWA budget.
Nissin Sean Carmelli was buried yesterday, in Haifa. Twenty thousand people came to his funeral because his friends were afraid that as a Lone Soldier with no family in Israel, he would be ‘insufficiently’ respected on his last road.
There are no Lone Soldiers in Israel. I was not alone 44 years ago. Nissim Sean Carmelli was not alone. The Lone Star of Texas is not alone.
Mordechai Ben-Menachem is a former researcher/lecturer at Ben-Gurion University and an author of 30 book ranging from engineering to poetry. He is also an ordained clergyman and a former soldier.