'You are a true Israeli hero'

Yonatan Levin, critically wounded in 2nd Lebanon war, meets President Rivlin at his residence; 'You're a symbol of Israel's just struggles'.

Shai Landesman ,

President Rivlin with Yonatan Levin
President Rivlin with Yonatan Levin
Photo: Mark Neiman

A decade after being critically wounded in the second Lebanon war, Yonatan Levin visited President Reuven Rivlin at his residence today (Monday).

Levin had contacted the President through his caregivers, speaking of his admiration for the President and his values, and saying that he'd be glad to come for a visit.

The President happily greeted Yonatan and his family and caregivers, and spoke to Levin through his occupational therapist, Gali Solomon.

"You are one of the heroes of Israel," the President told Levin, "a paratrooper who was always leading the charge."

Yonatan had written down what he wished to say to the President before he arrived. The President took the letter and read it while responding to it's contents, so as to create a real dialogue.

"I am Yonatan. A paratrooper who was wounded during the second Lebanon war," President Rivlin read out, "I am very happy to meet you and would love to hear your life story. I very much admire the way in which you conduct yourself, and your respect for every person, no matter who they are. You have rare qualities ("Don't exaggerate, Yonatan," laughed the President before continuing) that I really admire. You have integrity, morality, and depth. I hope that matters will improve in the country because it's the only one we have. I would really like to hear about projects in which you are involved. I am thirsty for knowledge and want to learn and develop. Thank you for the invitation to come here."

The President thanked Yonatan for his kind words. "I think you are a symbol. A symbol neither you nor we would want to have, but still a symbol of the difficult and just struggles that we go through."

President Rivlin told Levin about his time in the army and his long reserve service, which continued even into his time as a Member of Knesset. He also talked about the importance of building trust and cooperation among all citizens of Israel, as we build society in a country that is both Jewish and democratic.

Before Yonatan left, the President told him, "I want you to know that I'm proud of you. I know what struggles you've gone through. I remember the first year you fought to stay alive. You proved that nothing is impossible even when many gave up and lost faith. The honor is all mine."

President Rivlin also spoke with Yonatan's mother, Rachel, who told him about the daily struggles and the great strength and inspiration that she and the caregivers derive for Yonatan. "Maybe you can come over and visit from time to time," the President requested before he left the room. "Happily", wrote Yonatan on his whiteboard.