Major General (Res.) Doron Almog Receives Honorary Doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

On December 6th, 2016, Maj. Gen. Doron Almog was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in recognition of his tireless work on behalf of people with disabilities and the State of Israel. We at ALEH are proud and honored. Upon receiving the doctorate, Maj. Gen. Almog gave a moving speech. Here is a translation:

 

On this special occasion, I stand here together with our son, Eran Almog, the boy who was born with a disability, who never once called me “father,” who was the great professor of my life. Eran is the boy who taught me to judge the world through his eyes. From the place of the weakest, those who are dependent on the mercy of others, those who are surrounded by the high walls of shame and silence, of prejudice and exclusion. Our son Eran, who was like an echo and amplification of my brother, Eran, bleeding to death next to his burning tank. Our son Eran, who taught me to understand love, devotion and tikkun olam (fixing the world).

For him, my beloved wife Didi, myself and our friends from ALEH established the rehabilitative village ALEH Negev, and today marks ten years since his death – ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran. A rehabilitative village that outstandingly integrates the Negev’s population and friends of Eran’s. In the same hydrotherapy pool, you can find a boy like Eran, a Bedouin girl born with disabilities, a soldier wounded in battle in Gaza, and the head of a regional council who had a traffic accident. A village that provides great love and the best rehabilitative and educational therapies to all who have become hostages of society due to an accident, illness, old age, battle or a genetic condition. A place where Jews, Muslims and Christians live together in exceptional harmony, with great modesty stemming from partnership and great responsibility to be an example of acceptance for the other and the different. An example of love for each person, as he is.

Ben Gurion, whose 43rd yahrzeit we mark today, said: “The State of Israel will prove itself not by material wealth, not by military might or technical achievement, but by its moral character and human values.”

In the Book of Zecharia, the same concept is expressed – “Nor by strength nor by might – but by my spirit, said the Lord of Hosts.”

The test presented to us by Eran and his friends is a moral test of the first degree. A test of pure humanity and love of man. This is the test of Israeli society in its entirety, a daily test, difficult and directed by an ethical compass that determines that “the strength of the social chain will be determined by the strength of its weakest links.”

I would like to thank Prof. Rivka Carmi and the faculty of Ben-Gurion University, who chose to award me an Honorary Doctorate. Thank you for joining our life’s journey. Thank you for your research, your medicine, your voluntarism and the immense work that is constantly with us.

Thank you to all our partners in Israel and throughout the world. The people of the Merhavim Regional Council, the Government of Israel, Keren Kayemet, the JNF, the UIA, and all our generous donors.

Thank you to my beloved wife Didi, Eran’s mother. Thank you to our daughter, the real doctor among us, Nitzan Almog, and to our son-in-law, Lior Haviv, a doctor at Ben-Gurion University.

A special thank you to my parents and to Didi’s parents. Thanks to my mother and my brother Modi (an electrical engineer at Ben-Gurion University) and Rotem, who have joined us here today. Thank you to all the members of our extended family, who support and help us, and particularly to our grandchildren – Ori, Yaheli, Karni and Be’eri, the lights of our lives.

Thank you to all our faithful friends. A special thank you to Yehuda Marmorstein, Director General of ALEH and all its members, and to the entire staff of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, led by Director General Avi Vortzman.

And last, but really first, to our son, Eran, who should have been standing here today, in my place.