‘Bulletproof’: The brief, beautiful life of Danielle Waldman

Danielle was just 24 when she and her partner, Noam Shay, were brutally killed by Hamas at Supernova Festival.

Danielle Waldman and Noam Shay, victims of the Hamas attack on the Supernova music festival in southern Israel on October 7 [Courtesy of Eyal Waldman]

As the daughter of Israeli tech billionaire, philanthropist and peace ambassador Eyal Waldman, 24-year-old Danielle inherited her father’s belief that Jews and Arabs could work together. He hired more than 200 Palestinian engineers at Mellanox, the tech firm he co-founded in 1999 and led until 2020, believing that working together could lead to peace.

“Danielle was the same as me. She believed we must strive for peace. She worked with me as often as she could,” Eyal, who raised $360,000 for an oncology ward at a Gaza hospital in 2020, recalls.

“She always thought that doing good things for other people was the best way to be. She knew many of my Palestinian friends and was friends with them, too, and she was always thinking of other people without thinking of herself. She helped so many people during her short life.”

Danielle was with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Noam Shay, at the Supernova music festival which was taking place close to kibbutz Re’im near the Gaza border when it was attacked by Hamas on October 7. Some 364 people were killed and 40 were taken hostage by Hamas, according to the first Israeli police report into the attack.

Danielle and Noam had met six years earlier when they were both serving in the Israeli military and had been inseparable ever since.

“They had just started talking about getting married,” Eyal explains. “But instead of a wedding, we held a funeral and buried them together.”

The car
The car in which Danielle Waldman and Noam Shay were trying to escape the Supernova music festival attack by Hamas on October 7 when they were killed [Courtesy of Eyal Waldman]

Many of the hundreds of Israeli, Palestinian citizens of Israel and foreigners murdered by Hamas fighters at the Supernova music festival sent their loved ones text and voice messages saying goodbye. But Eyal didn’t even have that.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. She sent a text message to say she was OK at 6:30am. That was the last we heard of her. At least I have that,” he says. “I also have a video of when they were in the car before they were murdered and an audio recording from one of her friends who was wounded. But by that time, she was probably already dead.”

“Danielle was amazing. She couldn’t hurt a fly and she loved everyone. Anyone who came into contact with her loved her, too,” he says.

“My ex-wife [Danielle’s mother] called me the other day to tell me she had a dream about their wedding,” Eyal says, choking up with tears.

Despite his unbearable loss, Eyal says he does not regret working with Palestinians and remains optimistic that the day will come when the two people will coexist in peace. He also has reason to believe the current war may turn out to be a catalyst or trigger for reconciliation: “After the [Yom Kippur] war of 1973, we started the peace process with Egypt and signed an agreement with them. There’s no reason that cannot happen again. We need to resolve this conflict. We’ve been killing each other for 75 years.”

When asked about the memory of his daughter he holds most dear, he recalls a skiing holiday in France when Danielle began dancing spontaneously.

“She loved to dance. She was dancing all the time,” he says. “I just posted a video from that day when she was dancing in France and my three kids joined in. It was the song, Titanium, that says ‘I’m bulletproof’. It’s the best memory I have.”

Source: Al Jazeera