'I call on young people: The IDF needs you'

President Rivlin addresses future fighters at graduation ceremony of the IDF Officers’ Course.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rivlin and Kochavi at graduation ceremony of IDF Officers’ Course
Rivlin and Kochavi at graduation ceremony of IDF Officers’ Course
Mark Neyman/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin delivered remarks on Wednesday evening at the graduation ceremony of the IDF Officers’ Course at Training Base No. 1.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also spoke at the ceremony. The cadets, from all IDF combat units, had their officers’ badges of rank uncovered during the ceremony, and the president and the chief of staff uncovered the badges of the outstanding soldiers.

There were no families at Training Base No. 1 and the stands, usually filled with cheering crowds, were empty.

“I am sure that right now in your homes, your families are proud and happy. The values you got at home, and only them, are what got you here, to the ‘sharp end’ of the IDF. Your families are your and our combat supports. And even if they are not here, their hearts are here!” said the president at the beginning of his remarks.

“This is my last year as President of the State,” said the president, adding, “When I enlisted in the IDF, the postal pigeons were released from service. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined such an advanced, professional, forward-looking army as this. On the parade ground are officers, men and women, from all across Israel. From the center and from the peripheries. From towns and cities, from settlements, from kibbutzim. Jews, Moslems, Druze, natives and immigrants. The best of the best. I once said, and I will say it again, that the promotion of our commanders does not depend on what is or is not hiding under their helmets. Here, there are no tribes. Here, everyone gets an opportunity.”

“It is no secret that there is among you an officer that, because of my personal acquaintance with his story, has shown me another lesson about the influence of the IDF on Israeli society,” said the president, referring to Yossi Shishman, a soldier who became an officer in the Givati Brigade today, whose criminal record the president recently deleted.

“This is a reminder to us all that when we say ‘the IDF is the people’s army’, it is not just an empty statement. You give us hope. Israeli Hope. We need many more outstanding people like you,” said the president at the end of his remarks.

The president referred to the model of service that should be part of the life of every Israeli citizen, saying, “From here, I call on young men and women of the age of enlistment from all parts of society: we need you, the IDF needs you, come and serve Israeli society. The issue of service to the State of Israel is always on our agenda. From time to time, it is re-evaluated and I am sure that under the Minister of Defense, it will happen again soon. But I call on you now, if you cannot serve in the IDF, to join the civil-national service – in education, welfare, in hospitals. I am sure that the day will come when we are able to direct all Israeli young people into meaningful service to the State of Israel that has one aim: strengthening the resilience of our country. By strengthening our security and, no less important, strengthening our society. The State of Israel and the IDF face many challenges on our northern and southern borders, and we may even be facing a challenging period in Judea and Samaria. We do not seek war, but the IDF is ready and prepared for any threat and is tasked with implementing any decision from the political leadership. In the days ahead you will receive your platoons or teams. Very quickly, you will realize that your platoon is your family. I am sure that these soldiers will be in good hands. Your hands. Train them, teach them, lead them, love them! Go on your way, and come back safe!”

At the end of the ceremony, there was an emotional meeting between the president and Second Lieutenant Yossi Shishman of the Givati Brigade, who the president met two years ago at his visit to the Beit Asaf pre-military academy established by Rona Ramon.

Yossi grew up in Lod and at the age of 12 became addicted to drugs. When he was 16 he was sent to the Ofek Prison and from there to a rehabilitation facility. He arrived at Beit Asaf not knowing how to read or write and did not leave until he had completed his rehabilitation program. After much effort, he succeeded in enlisting in the IDF and began his service at the Havat Hashomer base. He completed his basic training as the outstanding soldier, as he did in his combat soldiers’ training. Recently, with the recommendation of his commanding officer, the president deleted Yossi’s criminal record and he began his life anew.