Knesset marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Special in Uniform soldiers are guests of honor in the Knesset and enjoy cross-party support and commendation.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ceremony in the Knesset
Ceremony in the Knesset
Special in Uniform JNF

Marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), which took place today, Monday, a heartwarming Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony was held in the Knesset. The guests of honor were a group of young soldiers who serve in the IDF in the framework of Special in Uniform. In 1992, the United Nations established the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. This day is intended to honor people with disabilities; increase understanding and inclusion of people suffering from assorted physical and mental handicaps; raise their awareness of their right to live honorably and comfortably; and raise awareness in the general sector regarding the significance and benefits of inclusion in all realms of life, be it economic, political, social, or cultural. Disregarding all political and personal differences, Knesset ministers from all sectors and parties united in the Knesset this evening to hail and champion the rights of individuals with special needs.

The inclusion and integration of youth with special needs into the Israel Defense Forces has gained momentum in the past years. Spearheading the crusade is Special in Uniform, a pioneering program of the IDF that operates in conjunction with JNF-USA. With the immediate advantage of the program being the integration of youth with disabilities into the IDF, which offers them great satisfaction and allows the IDF and public to benefit from their contributions; the long-term goal is to eventually integrate them into the workforce and general society. The program’s focus is on ability rather than disability and reining in all of one’s skills and talents in order to achieve one’s maximal potential.

At present, several hundreds of soldiers with special needs serve in the IDF on bases spanning the length and breadth of the country, in a variety of roles and framework. Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia, director of Special in Uniform, shares: “Recently, there’s been heightened international interest in our inclusion program, and delegations from countries around the world are coming to observe and learn about the program in order to implement parallel programs in their respective countries.”

MK Yair Lapid, Chairman of the Yesh Atid party, was deeply touched to meet these special soldiers and light the menorah together with them. “We greatly value your contribution which strengthens and empowers Israeli society,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Defense Eli Ben Dahan, who invited Special in Uniform soldiers to the Knesset Hanukkah event, expressed: “Special in Uniform is changing the face of the IDF. I speak to a diverse crowd of IDF soldiers in a variety of locations, and I hear numerous stories about their collaborative service together with the Special in Uniform soldiers.

“They unanimously share that serving alongside Special in Uniform is extremely meaningful to them. The movement’s members teach mainstream IDF soldiers about willpower, perseverance, and calling upon one’s personal strengths to cope with and defy all odds. I wish them and the movement all the best and hope that you shall continue increasing the light among the IDF and teaching us all the true meaning of strength.”