Israel’s Druze community is an integral part of the mosaic that is Israeli society. On Friday, January 8, a scenic lookout was dedicated in Kiryat Ata forest in memory of Corporal Yousef Muadi who fell on January 5, 2009, during Operation Cast Lead. Yousef Muadi hailed from the Druze community of Haifa.
“When we see the drops of rain falling all around us, it is hard not to think of all the tears shed by Yousef’s family and friends. In the Druze religion, we believe in fate, and that the number of a person’s years is decreed at his birth. Still, when we lose someone so precious, we feel the pain. At the same time, when I see all the people who have come to honor Yousef’s memory, and the beautiful site where this lookout is located, there is also some joy and comfort. I have no doubt that Yousef’s soul is hovering here, among the trees and birds.” Sheikh Antir Muadi was speaking at the dedication ceremony of the scenic lookout in Kiryat Ata forest that was built in memory of Corporal Yousef Muadi, who fell during Operation Cast Lead. In spite of the incessant rain, hundreds of people attended the ceremony to honor Yousef and his family.
Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara noted that according to Druze tradition, “rain is a good omen and a sign of blessing. This scenic lookout is located on a historic site, the place where the Druze leaders signed a historic agreement with the people of Israel. The pain and sadness of the day that Yousef fell in battle will never be forgotten, but this beautiful site will also enable us to remember the positive energy that Yousef embodied.”
The Kiryat Ata Forest, where the lookout is located, surrounds the Nahal Tzipori catchment basin. The natural woodland around the river suffered damage from tree cutting, fires and uncontrolled grazing, before it was rehabilitated by KKL-JNF. The 16 kilometers of the Kiryat Ata scenic route are dotted with historical and archeological sites dating back to the period of the Mishna and the Talmud. It winds its way from Kiryat Ata to the hills of Lower Galilee via some of Israel’s most beautiful woodlands, providing visitors with views of the Nahal Tzippori gully, the Zevulun Valley, oak forests and the peaks of Mount Carmel. In the words of KKL-JNF Northern Region Director Yiftah Harhol, “we hope that this scenic lookout, which offers such a beautiful view, will be like a small ray of light for Yousef’s friends and family.”
Samir Muadi, Yousef’s father, served under Colonel Rassan Alian, who is currently the commander of the Golani Brigade. “The Yosef Muadi Scenic Lookout is a place where people will come to appreciate the forest and the view, and to renew their love of the land and nature,” Colonel Rassan Alian said. “The Muadi family is part of the larger Golani family, and I promise you that we will always support you and stand by your side.”
There were few dry eyes in the audience when Dima, Yousef’s sister, spoke on behalf of the family. “Another year has passed, and you are not with us. Every year on your birthday my heart shatters to a million pieces anew. We grew up on your values, with your wild joy for life. I have learned to live with the cloud that hangs over my life, with the pain, but I will never be able to bear the longing.
I am moved to be speaking at the scenic lookout that is named for you, and on behalf of my family, I would like to thank KKL-JNF and everyone responsible for realizing this project.”
The ceremony was graciously emceed by KKL-JNF Israel Fundraising Director Michael Ben Abu, who said that the scenic lookout “expressed our deep appreciation and respect for the Druze community, who are our brothers in arms, heart and soul, in life and in death. May this site be a small token of our gratitude for the privilege of sharing a covenant with you.”
General Sami Turgeman, commander of the IDF Southern Command, said that although he did not know Yousef personally, “my first visit to his family is deeply engraved in my heart. Now Yousef’s memory is engraved in nature.
It is an honor to remember him and to be with the extraordinary people who are assembled here today.”
Dr. Tzvi Tzameret, the former chairman of the Pedagogic Council of the Ministry of Education, worked many years together with Wafa, Yousef’s mother, and knows the family well. “As Deputy Minister Kara mentioned, this is a historic site. It was here that Moshe Dayan signed the covenant that was made between the Druze and Jewish people. This took place the day after Moshe Dayan’s brother was killed unintentionally by fire from a Druze rifle. Blood can lead to more blood, blood can lead to a covenant, and blood can lead to peace. It is my hope that this scenic lookout will be a place of peace, growth and togetherness.”