In memory of Yossi Muadi, who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead (2008). Creator: Mayan Engelman
In memory of Yusuf Muadi
Yossi was very sociable and very clever. In his youth, he made his room into a living room in order to host his friends there. Whoever visited also got to hear him sing out-of-tune the songs he loved. Even before Facebook, he created a “wall” in his room: every friend that visited would leave a message or drawing on the wall. His sociability could be seen also in the army, even in the most difficult and frightening moments. In the field, in the rain, in an army tent, Yossi sang in order to raise morale. When he was asked a few days before his death if he is scared, he answered: “What is written is what is written.”
There are people who a minute after meeting them you feel that you have known them all your life. Yossi Muadi was one of them. It was impossible not to like Yossi. A love of life, internal tranquility, the eternal smile and infinite friendliness – made everyone love him. He was a smiler; a friend loved by all; sympathetic; but also mischievous. As one of his friends wrote: “Yossi had the biggest smile in the world and perfect dimples with which he captured the world.”
Yossi, the son of Wafa and Samir, brother to Dima and Amir, was born on October 12th, 1989 in Haifa to a respected and well-known family. His mother was head of Arab language studies in the Druse and Circassian schools in Israel. His father worked for the Civilian Authority (Headquarters for Coordination of Government Activity in the Territories) and was born in the village of Yarka. When Yossi’s parents, Wafa and Samir, got married and decided to build a home, they settled in Haifa, which is between her village (Yarka) and his village (Daliyat al Carmel).
Yossi Muadi z"l
Yossi, who was the oldest son, grew up with Jews starting from kindergarten. He maintained his traditional identity and at the same time was involved in urban society: “I come from a different mentality – that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten where I came from. It is your religion and you can neglect it. We have our own holidays that I keep and there is no way that I will miss them,” Yossi said in an interview with Galei Tsahal. Yossi was always happy, he enjoyed life and knew how to get the most out of it. Sports, music and entertainment were at the center of his life. Music was his great love and already at a young age he would take advantage of every stage, whether improvised or real, in order to demonstrate his abilities. “The nightingale of the class of 13” – that’s what he was called in high school.
At the age of 11, he even participated in a young talent contest with Haim Moshe’s song, “Eisha”, which he became identified with among his friends. One of his fellow soldiers recounted that “two days before going in [to Gaza], on Thursday evening, there was a downpour. We were all depressed and in our sleeping bags – not knowing if we were going in, where we were going in, when we were going in. Yossi realized that we were all depressed inside our sleeping bags – he jumped out of his and standing on the bed in his underwear he started to sing using a toothbrush, as if he was some kind of professional singer… We all started to sing with him. He didn’t run out of energy until 12 at night.”
Yossi was a people person. He was a wonderful host. He would serve his friends pitas with zaatar and lebane and he always spiced them up with a short performance. One day, he wrote on the wall near his bed a quote from a Sephardi love song. Over time, his friends added quotes from other songs, drawings, hearts, blessings, greeting to other friends who would come to visit and other messages.
Till today, the guys make fun that this was the first “wall”, before the arrival of Facebook.
A fighter until the last moment From a young age, he spoke about his dream to follow in the footsteps of his father and to serve as a combat soldier and officer in Golani. When he realized, just before he went into the army, that he was going into a different corps, he was not prepared to give up and as was his habit he did everything in his power to get what he wanted. His determination bore fruit and before entering the army, on March 16, 2008, he was assigned to the Gidon Battalion of the Golani Brigade and started training as a combat soldier.
He charmed everyone in the army as well. His friends in the company describe him as an ideal friend, with a smile from ear-to-ear constantly on his face. But he was also a friend that listened to the problems of others and would be a part of deep discussions that continued into the night. “You were more than a brother to me,” is a sentence uttered about Yossi by more than one person. “I can’t honestly say that Yossi was soldier number one in the company, but he certainly was in my platoon,” his commander said.
Yossi fell in battle in the Gaza Strip on January 5th, 2009 during Operation Cast Lead. A shell fired from an Israeli tank accidently hit the building where Yossi and his fellow soldiers in the company were located and it collapsed on top of them. Even in his final moments, his friends recounted, Yossi showed bravery and heroism by shielding Gal, the company commander, from fragments and the blast with his body. He thus saved his commander’s life but he himself was killed. Also killed were Major Dagan Wartman and First Sergeant Nitai Stern. Another 25 soldiers were injured, five of them seriously.
Yossi, who was 19 at the time of his death, was buried in the cemetery in Yarka. He left behind parents, a sister and a brother. After his death he was promoted to corporal. A plaque in his memory was placed in the cemetery in Ossafiyah. His family also established the Yosef Muadi association, which works to memorialize him. The association organizes programs to help children with learning disabilities and has worked to create a memorial garden next to the Alliance School in Haifa, at the entrance to the neighborhood he grew up in.
The association also established a website in his memory: http://www.yossi-moadi.co.il/.
Yossi Muadi’s love for his fellow man and his friendliness were obvious from birth. Even when in the field in an army tent, Yossi Muadi sang to his fellow soldiers in order to raise morale. When he was asked a few days before he died whether he is afraid, he said: “Whatever will be will be.” Yossi’s mother, Wafa Muadi, describes her memories of him.
Comments by Mayan Engelman, creator of Maktub:
In the search for a character for Yossi, I looked at innumerable clips, presentations and pictures. His character slowly took shape and I saw before me a face, movements, feelings, character traits, and I think I could even guess what he smelled like. I came to know who he was, how much he loved to sing, how sensitive, talented and modest he was; and how by way of his captivating personality he was able to keep so many loving people around him. A kid with smiling eyes, full of warm and enveloping energy. I started to feel how an abyss was opening up in me for the loss of someone I never knew.
I chose to use animation to create the moments that could not be captured by the camera. I wanted to describe the guy he was, his happy energy that brought together everyone around him, in happy moments and also in difficult ones; to describe how he managed to lift his platoon out of its fear and frustration for a few moments of high morale and joy and how in his last moments, in the absolute darkness and fear of the unknown, he chose to smile and laugh rather than surrender to the darkness; and how he managed to touch and light up so many hearts; whose name continues to be uttered and remembered with love. The core of the clip was based on a quote from Yossi’s brother: “I will continue to remember and mention you in your own way – with a smile.”
I came to understand that he needs to be remembered for his smile.