It began as a modern-day fairy-tale: 18-year-old Daniel Defur, who is blind, told Israeli 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,” a program integrating 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 Special in Uniform Director Tiran Attia.
Defur is the first blind teenager to enter the program, which is supported by JNF-USA.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu welcomed the beaming new soldier to his Jerusalem office, and congratulated him on achieving his dream. Daniel, a car enthusiast, last visited Netanyahu in June. Durig that visit, Netanyahu fulfilled Defur's 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 their able-bodied peers receive draft notices. Special in Uniform works to restore the sense of validation which is often lost with an automatic deferment.
At Wednesday’s private event, Netanyahu 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 Friendmaker-in-Chief, rallying his fans to seek out other teens who are having difficulty building friendships.
Netanyahu expressed admiration and pride, blessing Daniel for believing nothing can stand in the way of one’s will.
“We are extremely proud of what you have achieved, and what you will achieve,” Netanyahu said.
Daniel will serve on an air force base as a fully-enlisted member of the Israel Defense Forces.