Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Tuesday,
Mar 31st
Home News National Two Americans killed in Gaza

Two Americans killed in Gaza

E-mail Print PDF

American born IDF soldiers Sean Carmeli, left, and Max Steinberg, right, were killed in the Gaza Strip, July 20.BALTIMORE — Sean Carmeli, a sergeant in the Israeli army, was stationed in Israel’s South awaiting possible orders to enter Gaza.

He was exchanging Facebook messages with his friend Ian Benisti, a U.S. Marine reservist who was visiting Israel from California. The two had planned to get together, maybe go to the beach. But Israel was in the midst of an escalating conflict with Hamas.

“Bro’, hope this’ll be over soon, so we can meet up,” the Texas-born Carmeli wrote to Benisti in their last Facebook exchange on July 15.

The wish went unfulfilled. Two days later, Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza as part of its ongoing Operation Protective Edge.

Carmeli, 21, and another American, Max Steinberg, a 24-year-old from Woodland Hills, Calif., were among the 13 Israeli soldiers — all members of the Golani Brigade — killed during heavy fighting in Gaza on Sunday.

“He was a very sweet, nice kid — the mellow, calm, happy guy people want to be around,” Benisti said of Carmeli.

Carmeli was raised in the resort town of South Padre Island, Texas, and after his freshman year of high school moved with his two younger sisters and their Israeli parents to Raanana, a city not far from Tel Aviv.

Alon and Dalya Carmeli were back in Texas working at their T-shirt shops on South Padre Island when they learned of their son’s death and immediately returned to Israel, said Benisti, who attended Carmeli’s funeral in Haifa late Monday night.

The funeral drew an estimated 20,000 mourners.

Carmeli “always had an angel on his shoulder, always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye,” said Aaron Edelman, a Baltimore native who knew Carmeli from their Golani service.

Benisti, whose father lives in Israel and who coincidentally was raised in both Woodland Hills and South Padre Island, said he plans to attend Steinberg’s funeral on Wednesday morning in Jerusalem.

STEINBERG’S connection to Israel was a more recent development. He first visited the country two years ago on a Birthright Israel trip.

“He fell in love with the country and the people, and he knew he wanted to be there,” said Danny Derakhshannia, Steinberg’s childhood friend from California.

Steinberg moved to Israel and became a “lone soldier,” a term for Diaspora Jews who move to Israel to serve in the Israeli military without having close relatives in the country.

According to the Lone Soldier Center, an Israeli nonprofit, 5,700 such personnel currently serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

The center was founded in honor of Michael Levin, a lone soldier from Philadelphia who was killed in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War.

Hearing of the two Americans’ deaths is “reliving everything we went through with Michael,” said Levin’s mother, Harriet.

Lori Trott, the principal of Saint Joseph Academy, the school in Brownsville, Texas, that Carmeli and sisters Gal and Oranit attended, said he was the first student in her 14 years there to be killed during military service. She said the school will commemorate Carmeli’s life when the new term begins in early August.

A vigil in Steinberg’s memory was held Sunday night at a park near where he grew up. Derakhshannia said he and Steinberg often went skateboarding and bicycling there.

“It was an emotional gathering,” said Alex Cohen, another friend from the area.

Derakhshannia recalled that Steinberg — known as “Little Max” because of his short stature — would take some big hits during recreational football games but would always bounce right up.

“He was a tough, tough kid,” said Derakhshannia, who knew Steinberg since they were middle-school classmates. “Max would never hold a grudge. He’d always be smiling.”

Derakhshannia, who identifies himself as a non-practicing Muslim and whose own parents are emigres from Iran, called Steinberg “a true patriot.”

“He didn’t just stand with the Israeli people; he was standing up for what’s right,” Derakhshannia said, adding, “That’s why he went to Israel: to help democracy there.”

 

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

GW student gov’t addresses swastika incidents with request for added security

Marcy Oster A student senate resolution at George Washington University asked the school to install more security cameras in dorms. ... [Link]

Dermer: Israel must speak up on Iran threat

Marcy Oster Israel’s U.S. ambassador, making his first public comments since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, also reaffirmed strong U.S.-Israel ties. ... [Link]

Plans for 2,200 homes in Jerusalem Arab neighborhood gain preliminary approval

Marcy Oster The plans approved by an Interior Ministry committee in Israel also will retroactively approve 300 illegal Arab homes in the same neighborhood. ... [Link]

Iran talks deadline extended a day

Uriel Heilman “‎We’ve made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday,” a State Department official told reporters. “There are several difficult issues still remaining.” ... [Link]

From ‘80s to today, Israeli ‘family’ revels in close ties

mbrodsky A group of new immigrants to Israel, brought together by a shared army program, has stayed close for decades even with some members no longer in the country. ... [Link]

What biblical villain is Obama most like (besides Haman, of course)?

Julie Wiener Why, less than a week before Passover, did Rabbi Shlomo Riskin slam Obama with a Haman comparison rather than a Pharaoh one? ... [Link]

Tweets by ‘Daily Show’ pick Trevor Noah concern ADL, B’nai B’rith

Gabe Friedman Both Jewish groups issued statements urging the South African standup comic to avoid making distasteful jokes about Jewish stereotypes. ... [Link]

Museum of Jewish Heritage, Folksbiene to partner and possibly merge

Julie Wiener If all goes well, the partnership agreement between the two New York cultural institutions — a museum and theater — will ultimately lead to a full merger. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com