Remembering a Fallen Hero: Strangers Unite to Honor a Soldier

As you drive down a rainy road leading south from Tel Aviv, Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” plays incongruously with your destination- the home of Ahmad Abu Latif, a Bedouin soldier who was among the 21 members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed in an attack by RPG missiles in Gaza. Amid criticism about the IDF’s placement of soldiers as sitting ducks, you struggle to find an appropriate gift for Ahmad’s grieving mother. At a roadside shop, a young salesman suggests dates. At her home, you join strangers in offering condolences to Ahmad’s mother in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. As the day progresses, more deaths are reported over the car radio, and you are moved to tears by the DJ’s song selection. During your visit, you learn about Ahmad’s hard work and ambition, and see the deep grief of his widow and family members. The family is visited by many, including members of the Knesset and a former prime minister. The family talks about Ahmad’s close ties with his mother and his desire to unite people. You watch a video featuring Ahmad and another fallen soldier. A former commander assures Ahmad’s mother that she raised a fine son, while the minister of defense expresses hope that there will not be any more casualties. Ahmad’s father shows an award his son won at the university. Hoping that Ahmad will be the last fallen soldier, the family is devastated when news of another soldier’s death arrives.