It began as a modern-day fairytale: 18-year-old Daniel Defur, who is blind, told Prime Minister Netanyahu about three wishes he had, including a deep desire to serve in the IDF.
In a Facebook post to his two million followers, Netanyahu promised to help Daniel enlist. Shortly afterward, the Prime Minister reached out to Special in Uniform, the program that integrates young men and women with disabilities into the IDF.
“Of course, we jumped into action, working with Daniel and the IDF to find the right base and position for him,” said Tiran Attia, Director of Special in Uniform. Daniel is the first blind teenager to enter the program, which is supported by JNF-USA.
Today in his Jerusalem office, PM Netanyahu welcomed the beaming new soldier to congratulate him on achieving his dream. Daniel, a car enthusiast, was last here in June when Netanyahu fulfilled his first wish by giving him a ride in his specially-modified Audi A8.
Typically, Israeli teens with disabilities receive an automatic deferment at the same time that their able-bodied peers receive draft notices. Special in Uniform works to restore the sense of validation that can be lost with an automatic deferment.
At today’s private event, the Prime Minister noted the significance of Daniel’s achievement for Israel as a whole. “Most societies see what people lack,” he said, “let’s keep being the country that looks for what every individual has to give. You are showing us all what a true champion looks like.”
As for Daniel’s third wish, Netanyahu told his Facebook fans, “I need your help,” explaining that Daniel dreamed of gaining a circle of friends. “Let’s show him a bit of Israel’s warmth and love,” the PM wrote.
Within a few days, Daniel had maxed out his Facebook allowance with over 2,000 friend requests. He opened a public page and immediately took on the role of Israel’s Friend-Maker-in-Chief, rallying his fans to seek out other teens who are having difficulty building friendships.
Mr. Netanyahu expressed admiration, pride and blessing to Daniel, for believing that nothing can stand in the way of one’s will. “We are extremely proud of what you have achieved, and what you will achieve,” he said.
Daniel will serve on an air force base as a fully-enlisted member of the Israel Defense Forces.