“The IDF is not only everyone’s army. The IDF is everyone. And it must remain so. A people’s army that serves the country! Above all divisions. Outside of political discourse. And away from argumentativeness. The Israel Defense Forces are the people’s army. An army that comes from the people and works for the people. An army that takes care of all parts of Israeli society.”
“You are the best!” President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin told the men and women of the IDF selected as the president’s outstanding soldiers for 2020 / 5780 whom he presented, together with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the 120 awards for outstanding service. The ceremony was held this evening, Monday 14 September / 25 Elul, at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv. The award ceremony happens each year as part of the traditional Yom Haatzmaut event for Israel’s independence day, but was postponed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The president and the chief of staff saluted the outstanding soldiers in turn. They were chosen and recommended by their commanders to receive the award from the president for their significant service and exceptional contribution to the IDF and the State of Israel. Each of the 120 recipients received a scholarship for studies or professional training from Yahad – United For Israel’s Soldiers, made possible by a donation of the UK Friends of The Association for the Wellbeing of Israeli Soldiers.
“A group of people who think big, with wide shoulders, the best of the best of us. The face of Israeli excellence, which is expressed in perseverance and determination, in volunteerism, in the will to give, in dedication, commitment, professionalism, initiative and innovation. Personally, and on behalf of all Israelis, I salute you. I am proud of you. Congratulations!” said the president with pride.
“Over the last few days, I read the citations for your awards of excellence. I was filled with pride,” the president said. “Among you there are soldiers and officers from the center and the periphery of the country. From towns and villages. From settlements, kibbutzim and moshavim. Secular and religious, Jewish and non-Jewish. New immigrants and veterans. Lone soldiers who came from overseas to volunteer and insisted on serving in the IDF. From all corps and all specializations. Together, you represent the IDF as the people’s army, a diverse army open to all. A source of inspiration and pride. A reason for and a symbol of Israeli Hope!”
“When I was born, and people say it was today 81 years ago, the State of Israel had not yet been established,” he continued. “As a child, we were forbidden from raising the flag of Israel, but we could not be stopped from dreaming – and we dreamed. We dreamed that we would have a state of our own. We wanted to have a strong army. We dreamed of independence and sovereignty, and here you are making those dreams come true! From its earliest days, the State of Israel saw its people as the source of its strength and the secret of its might. And it is the people that are the IDF’s tangible advantage. Its unique human capital is what ensures, more than anything else, that we can stand together in a spirit of mutual responsibility and face the complex challenges before us.”
The president spoke about the current situation, saying “In these fateful days, the IDF’s supreme mission - protecting the State of Israel – is also the personal mission of every individual who serves, and of every one of us. To protect our homes, to protect our families, parents, grandparents. The strong, unbreakable connection between the IDF and the people is a unique characteristic of the Israel Defense Forces. That is its difference. That is also its strength.”
He added, ”Just in the last few months, we have seen another example of the way in which the IDF has answered the call and undertaken the national mission of fighting coronavirus. Its men and women are assisting in every part of Israeli society, from one end of the country to the other. In Bnei Brak and in Tiberius, in Beit Shemesh and in Deir el-Asad, in Jerusalem. But the IDF is not only everyone’s army. The IDF is everyone. And it must remain so. A people’s army that serves the country! Above all divisions. Outside of political discourse. And away from argumentativeness. The Israel Defense Forces are the people’s army. An army that comes from the people and works for the people. An army that takes care of all parts of Israeli society.”
“When I look at you, I know we can rely on you!” said the president to the soldiers who work throughout the year on land, at sea and in the air, in overt and covert operations for Israel’s national security, sending best wishes for a good and sweet New Year to all those who serve. The president also thanked the families who could not be at the ceremony and sent his warm embrace to bereaved families and those who are injured and to the families of those missing in action. Expressing his commitment to bring them home, he said, “May the next year be the year we go back to meeting and hugging, in health and happiness. May the old year and its curses pass, may the new year and its blessings come. Shana Tova!”
Lt. Yael Alfi, on behalf of the outstanding soldiers: “Our daily duties were not carried out and are not carried out in order to be honored and thanked. For us, it is a way of life. We all believe it is our duty and our right to do for the common good and to give everything of ourselves for this precious thing called the State of Israel.”