The Lone Soldiers of Israel
While jihadists are recruiting people from all corners of the earth to join them in the war against Jews (and all infidels), there are also young men and women from around the world going to Israel to fight for her survival. The Israeli Defense Forces calls them lone soldiers.
Lone soldiers have no family in Israel. They are young men and women who come to Israel to join the IDF and defend the Jewish homeland, as well as young people considered “at risk” who live in poverty, come from broken homes, or who are estranged from their parents. Estimates of the number of lone soldiers in the IDF at any given time ranges from 2,500 to nearly 6,000.
When I started writing this piece a few days ago, I set out to tell the stories of a handful of lone soldiers, intrigued by their motivations to travel so far from the comforts of home to fight for the IDF.
But in the past few days, so much has changed.
Sean Carmeli, from South Padre Island, Texas, was 21-years-old. An article in The Jerusalem Post is among numerous articles that honor his life and his service.
Carmeli had dual US, Israeli citizenship and was a lone soldier serving in Israel. Born to Israeli parents, Alon and Dalya, who now live in the US, he was a returning citizen who chose to stay in Israel when his parents moved to Texas for work; he has two sisters, Or and Gal.
According to The Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center's Facebook page, Carmeli was a returning citizen who came to Israel to "strengthen, unite, and define what it means to be a Jew today."
"Everything may be bigger in Texas, but the beaches and parties could not distract a native-son from returning home to defend and protect his people..."
“They made the ultimate sacrifice, in an attempt to rid the world of one of the most evil, unimaginable and horrible organizations to ever exist,” the post concluded.
According to Chabad.org, the Carmelis were part of the religious awakening in their small Jewish community and helped turn the samll (sic) town into a tight-knit community that observes the Torah and the commandments.
The parents who were religious wanted to instill n their three children decided to move back to Israel and Sean completed high school in Ra'anana and went on to join the army where he served with honor and distinction in the Golani Brigade.
…His Rabbio (sic) said of Carmeli, “Sean was a gentle kind boy. He was the oldest of the local boys in our camp and was a sweet and kind example to everyone else.” The rabbi said that Carmeli’s superiors told him that he did not need to be involved in Israel’s ground fight in Gaza due to an injury to his foot. Sean, however, insisted that he would take part in the operation into Gaza.
Speaking with a close friend, Gannett reports:
When it came time to volunteer for the army, Carmeli desperately wanted to enlist with the Golani Brigade, a ground operations unit, Shaham said. He was recruited just shy of his 19th birthday in March 2012.
"I would worry, 'What if this is the last time I'm going to see him,' but he was so sure nothing was going to happen to him," she said. "He would tell us to shut up, that he'd be fine."
Carmeli's outfit had been stationed on the border of Gaza the previous year in another operation, but it had never entered the Strip. The Golani brigade is always the first group called to action for ground offenses, Shaham said.
"He kept saying, 'I don't want to go back to Gaza, I don't want to go back to Gaza,' " she said. "But he was never nervous, he was never scared for his life. He was always sure he would come home."
He was serving his final year in the IDF at the time of his death. Shaham spoke often with Carmeli about their plans after the army. "Talking about him now, I think of his smile," Shaham recalled. "He was always so optimistic, so silly, and he was never complaining."
"Being in the Israeli army is very hard, but he was always so strong and brave," Shaham said. "Personally, I don't know anyone who has done so much for the army like he did. He gave everything he had to the country he loved."
Max Steinberg, from Los Angeles, California, was 24-years-old. He enlisted in the IDF just a few months after he made his first trip to Israel in 2012. The Times of Israel, among numerous other publications, honors his life and his service.
Max[Steinberg] was born and raised in a Zionist home in LA, went on a Birthright trip and decided it is not enough to, “talk the talk.” He made Aliya and served as a “lone solider” in the elite Golani infantry brigade as a sniper.
Steinberg decided to volunteer in the IDF after visiting Israel for the first time on a popular youth program called Birthright, his father, Stuart, told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. He was accepted into the army's Machal program, which trains non-Israeli Jewish men and women from dozens of countries to become combat soldiers.
Stuart Steinberg told the Jewish Journal his son "was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel. He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing."
These fallen lone soldiers follow in the footsteps of many others who have gone before them.
The Lone Soldier Center was named in memory of Michael Levin, a lone solider from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was killed in action in 2002. It is one of several organizations that support the concrete and emotional needs of lone soldiers.
Michael Levin made Aliyah from Philadelphia in 2002 and joined the Paratroopers. In the summer of 2006, Michael was given leave to visit his family in the US. Two weeks into his trip, war broke out on Israel’s northern border when Hizbollah ambushed an IDF patrol, killing five reservists and kidnapping Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev while wounded. When Israel crossed the border in an attempt to rescue them, Hizbollah began its assault on Israel, launching thousands of rockets at the communities of northern (sic) Israel.
Michael immediately cut short his vacation and flew back to Israel to serve with his unit. He fought to receive permission to be sent to the north to rejoin his unit. When Michael arrived, his unit was sent to the Hizbollah village of Aita al-Shaab. It was to this Hizbollah stronghold that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev had been taken two weeks earlier. On Tuesday, August 1, Michael’s unit moved forward and began an intense fire-fight with Hizbollah forces inside the village of Aita al-Shaab. Michael Levin was 21 years old when he fell fighting for the country he loved.
His memory and courage live on in the thousands of lone soldiers who continue down the path Michael set – to make Aliyah, to serve in the IDF, and to build a life in the land of Israel.
If you would like to learn more about lone soldiers in the IDF, there is a book called Lone Soldiers: Israel’s Defenders from Around the World. Written by Herb Keinon, the diplomatic correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, the book chronicles the stories of 14 lone soldiers from around the world.