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Roi Peles

by Amir Shacham, Associate Executive Vice President, Israel and Overseas

Looking at the accumulating photos of the fallen soldiers is perhaps the most difficult moment for me in this "Gaza War" (yes, I believe we are ready to call it such). Looking at these smiling, young vibrant faces and knowing that they are gone is heartbreaking.

So every once in a while in the past few weeks, when I feel too loaded, as an act of pure escapism, I go to the Tel Aviv beach. This spot is an island of sanity in the sea of chaos around us and in spite of the occasional sirens, life goes on there. Slower, sadder, but almost normal. It brings perspective back.

Yesterday was a bad day in Gaza — 10 new faces and names were added. So this morning I had to go to my Tel Aviv respite earlier than ever, to have double strong coffee in my beach cafe and to run extra kilometers on the promenade.

Halfway into my run I saw some people standing near what looks like an amateurish memorial monument. There on the beach, in the island of sanity where the blue sky is kissing the blue water, there was a monument for one of the fallen soldiers, Lieutenant Roi Peles (z’l). So I had to cease my "run-away running" and stop to pay respect. Almost all the early morning joggers and bikers did the same.

Then the strangest thing happened: I pulled out my cellphone to take a photo of this surreal scene. "Perhaps I will use it in one of my blogs," I told myself, "when I am able to overcome my writing block." But I couldn't take the photo. 

Technically, but so symbolically, my device was frozen and whatever I tried to unfreeze it didn't work. Yes, I know, it is an iPhone 4 and everyone say it’s time to move to 5, but nothing like that ever happened to me before. The phone refused to cooperate.

So I didn't have any choice, I put it back and continued the run. But I couldn't escape the scene. The young smiling face of Roi Peles, in the background of the Tel Aviv beach, haunted me all the way back to my cafe. I sat there for half an hour trying to operate my phone till suddenly, without any explanation, it came back to life. At that moment I knew what to do. I left my soda on the table and ran back all the way to Roi's monument. I took some photos and ran back. I felt good physically and emotionally. 

I am writing this post now on my miraculously cooperative phone, at the Banana Beach Cafe in Tel Aviv. It is in memory of Lieutenant Roi Peles (z’l), and all the young, smiling soldiers who fell in the battle to bring some normality and sanity to Israel. Yehi Zichram Baruch.

Drishat Shalom, 

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