The Greatest Teacher of my Life | Doron Almog | TEDxTelAviv
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The Greatest Teacher of my Life | Doron Almog | TEDxTelAviv

Translator: Queenie Lee
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney What is the parents’ dream? If I asked you to choose two words
describing the parents’ dream, I believe most of you would say,
“A healthy child.” When we, on our cell phone,
show pictures of a successful child, as a matter of fact, we speak about ourselves, because who made him? (Laughter) It’s the extension of our own ego. Our second child was born in 1984. We gave him the name of my brother
that was killed in the war, and expected him to be better than us;
more successful, more talented. A source of pride. At the age of eight months, he was diagnosed – Didi, my wife and me
were told by the psychologist, “Your son has a combination
of autism and retardation. Probably he will never speak. Probably he will mentally,
stay as a child forever.” That was a shock. The sky fell on our head. The parents’ dream
became broken parents’ dream. How do we continue managing our life
if our son has no future at all? This son, all his life,
has never said one word. Never said, (Hebrew) “Abba,” Dad;
never said, (Hebrew) “Eema,” Mum; never made eye contact. He was the greatest professor of my life. He told me… (Applause) He told me more than any other human being about myself, about our society,
about children like him. These children, unable to eat
by themselves, unable to dress by themselves, even unable to say,
“Please replace my diaper.” These children are punished
for two life sentence. One: a broken body for all their life. Second, one day, being taken
and put in an institution, which is a life-long jail. When he was born, at that time, I was special force unit commander,
33 years old, Lieutenant Colonel, leading operations in Sudan to bring Jews who were in life danger
from Ethiopia to the State of Israel, the only Jewish state in the world. Behind me were hundreds of battles: all over the Middle East in Lebanon,
Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and more. Behind me was the very famous rescue operation in Entebbe, 1976, rescuing 105 Israeli hostages
who were kept for one week, one week of their life hostage. I was the first on the ground (Applause) I was the first on the ground and the last
to leave the Entebbe airfield. Behind me were the memories
of the Yom Kippur War, 1973. In this war, I lost many of my friends. In many moments, I thought
I won’t see the next morning. But above all, the memories
of the telephone conversation with my mother at the end of that war. My brother fought in the Golan Heights. I fought in the south,
and I was afraid to ask, then, I got the courage and she said, “We lost Eran, we have no Eran anymore.” My brother was killed. I came home, continued to the Golan Heights
to investigate his last battle. I found his burnt tank. And shockingly, I learned to know
that he was shot by a Syrian tank, thrown outside, bleeding, bleeding,
shouting for assistance for seven days. He has evacuated, dead already. I was rageous, frustrated, angry, and I swore… I swore to never ever leave
a wounded soldier behind . (Applause) 11 years later, Didi, my wife, and me are raising a child, who is like the extension
of my bleeding brother. And this child-like saying, “My dear father, you know a lot
about special forces. You know a lot
about highly motivated soldiers. But my dear father,
you know zero about children like me. About the shame,
the stigma, the stereotype. Come over, my dear father,
give me your hand. Let’s go, let’s move and see places
where children like me are hauled.” We moved from institute to institute. We saw dirty, stinky, dark places. Children like him
were ignored, abused, harassed. We came home crying. Then we started learning
about the shame. For instance, Golda Meir, our commander-in-chief
during the Yom Kippur in the 70s, the one who sent me and my friends
to hunt down the terrorists behind the Munich massacre
of 11 Israeli sportsmen, 1972. Golda Meir was also
a grandmother to Meira, a Down syndrome granddaughter. And Meira told the Israeli public
after Golda passing, “Golda never visited me;
Golda didn’t love me; Golda was fully ashamed in my presence.” Golda told my mum to never mention the Prime Minister of Israel
having a retarded granddaughter. Then, we heard more stories
of distinguished and ordinary people hiding their children overseas
and in some institute in Israel. Inside me, I continued hearing
the sound of my child, “My dear father, wake up! I’m the hostage in our society,
unable to do anything by my power. Will you fight for me? Will you change our society? Will you give me hope?” We decided to fight for him. We decided to love him,
never to be ashamed. For him, and [others] like him,
we built a village. A wonderful place, a paradise. No longer isolated in an institution, surrounded by walls of silence. but rather social community center. (Applause) A paradise, Utopian society; Christian, Muslims, and Jews,
working in full harmony to serve children like our loved son, (Applause) to love them. In this village, we give them the best housing,
the best education, the best health care, the best food, the best clothes,
the best social life, culture, music, gardens, any need. And in this village, we created a new model of acceptance,
a new model of integration. How come? By four elements. Number one: rehabilitation. Number two: education. Number three: visits. Number four: volunteers. The rehabilitation model
is based on every day, about 200 outpatients
from the outside community, arriving to be treated together
with the most severely disabled children, like our loved son,
metaphorically and physically. It says that at the same swimming pool
you may find a soldier wounded in battle, head of regional
municipality after stroke, parliament member after a road accident, Down syndrome, Bedouin girl,
and someone like our loved child. We give them various kinds
of therapeutic treatment like hydrotherapy, physiotherapy,
music therapy, horse riding, animal therapy, vocational therapy,
anything, any therapy ever invented. We have there. The second element: education. At the center
of the rehabilitation center, we placed ordinary kindergarten
for ordinary kids from age one. We teach children from age one
to accept those who are unable, those who unprivileged,
the severely disabled. We teach them
what is social responsibility from age one. (Applause) The third element: visits. Every day, about hundred people
are arriving to visit to see the wonder. They are moved, they are excited. People from the United States and Europe; tourists, high-tech workers,
soldiers, veteran, parents. People are arriving and saying, “We got a propulsion.
We’ll assist you to change our society. We are your messengers.” Number four: volunteers. We have more than 400 volunteers. Some of them arriving from Germany, and this young Christian from Berlin saying, ” We come for atonement
on the murder of the six million Jews in the Second World War; we come for atonement
on Hitler’s decision to kill the disabled when Second World War started. They are saying, “No more discrimination. No more racism. Human-being is human-being. We all equal by our rights,
not equal by our power.” They are very well integrated
with about 100 Muslims workers, Bedouin from the south,
with about 600 Jews, to serve the severely disabled children. They are saying,
“We are more given than giving. We’ll assist you to change the world. We’ll assist you
by being your ambassadors.” Tonight, exactly tonight, February 6. We count ten years
for the passing of our loved child. He’s not anymore with us. He was living for one
wonderful year in the village that we built especially for him. His spirit spread
to every corner of the village. His spirit is here at my heart. His spirit is the goodness in our world. (Applause) 14 years ago, I left the military as Major General
to build this village, to be his mouthpiece;
to change our society; for continued fighting for him,
and like him until my last day. (Applause) A year ago, I was decorated by the highest award the State of Israel can give to a citizen; the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement This prize… (Applause) This price should be given
to him, not to me. I am only the messenger. He changed me. He made me a better human being;
more humble, less selfish, less arrogant. If the number of children like him is only one per cent
of the worlds population, this one per cent
can change the 99 per cent. This one per cent can be the teacher
and educator the same as he was for me. This one per cent can make the 99 per cent more humble, less selfish, less arrogant. (Applause) The social chain is always
measured by its weakest link. The more we do to strengthen this link,
the better and stronger society we are. In the military, we decorate people and soldiers
for bravery and courage. In our social life, it seems to me the highest decoration a person can be given by the disabled, by the one per cent children like him
is the title: ‘human being.’ Thank you. (Applause)

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51 thoughts on “The Greatest Teacher of my Life | Doron Almog | TEDxTelAviv

  1. I am muslim and have much respect for this man. I don't respect the wars and everything else involved in the story, because thats very complicated issue, but I respect him personally for this achievement.
    Religion or country doesn't matter. Thats just politics. The ordinary people usually don't care.
    Once you're confronted with such a situation, you discover your humanity.
    Most of us forget our humanity, are selfish and arrogant, because we're weak and wont pick up such a challenge.

  2. Beautiful message! We are not our labels. This young man lived more and loved more in his lifetime than the majority of people who live to be old. Why? He lived from who he truly was, from his beautiful heart! That will live on forever!

  3. That kid will never live a normal life, and would have died long ago in a pre-industrial age. It may seem heartless but I will never accept that kind of child. I wouldn't want to live as a vegetable so why would I let my child. It's heartless to selfishly allow that child to live when they can't even eat for their self, or think for their self. People need to stop praising brain-dead children and realize what it really is, a birth defect.

  4. I am not very fond of other religions, a former Buddhist, but I ran into so many Nazi sympathizers and Jews and have learned from the experience. I realized the values of Christianity and so on; then from this experience I explore the others, for truth. I can understand both views; the Muslim-no one but God is holy and so they did not believe anyone capable of doing the good things? then the Jewish view, tradition of good and advancement, from God, and thus should not yield to obvious "barbaric" civilizations? Then the bloodline issue, if it is good why mix with unknown. Not that anyone can not learn to be better/a Christian.

  5. His message goes way beyond religion way deeper than any written or spoken word. Those who wish to argue about religion here miss the whole point of the message being shared.

  6. We all must say something, when we are in these kind of situations. He said that the child has be punished. It is the parents that is being punished, for what ever reason, I do not know. It`s a big burden to any parent, who are in such situation. That is why the father became a better person, as he said

  7. Men, It's almost 1am today, I was just looking on Tedx to look to a presentation, but now if you could be in front of me I should just say to you "thank you", thank you for being so kind for all these people considered as " non-normal"… we should all be as you are… Thank you…

  8. is it true that Israel is terrorizing Palestinian people? I am from Europe and heard some things, but I don't know what is the truth..

  9. what about innocent Palestinian people and children. ….what about thousands of victims in gaza. ….what about thousands of people drive out their land and their house …..
    this is a big lair

  10. The possibility of having 1% damaged people like your son will come soon to reality I bet that this number will be much more higher, it is simple the poisoning of the air, water and food has increased. Elite that has the possibility to change the influence of poisoning is washing the hands, producing weapons, selling all kind of shit and manipulating as hell societies aroud the world. I take my hat off you have done enormous job but I please answear this question – What is the source of the situation? What is the source of this damage that your son had? What is the source of all this social damage in humans that they are not able to feel but are able to kill for money or for opinion or phylosophy? What is the source of world view that allows somebody to produce and sell weapons? What is the source of ignorance that allows to poison the air, water and food to produce artificial food without nutrients? Could it be money? Could it be forced education and upbringing that is setting the understanding of people and producing the damaged societies? Could it be competitive and exclusive world view? Could it be psychological manipulation of societies and denied whisdom exchanged for informations? You found strenght in your Live inside your self in the part that is connected to the very Live. I do not believe in any religion but I believe in Live it self that it is inside of every body. I do not believe in good or bad but there are principles of high and low efficiency according to Live giving it´s healthy fruits – First is principle of High efficiency (we can call it principle of goodness) = Achieving the highest effectivity by the lowest influence on the natural course of events. Second principle of low efficiency (could be called principle of evilness) = Achieving the lowest efficiency by the highest influence on the natural course of events. I see that it depends highly about understanding, will to understand and acting according to once understanding. The understanding is based on the definitions of principles – for example Rightesness = fight inside of a man between his weeknesses and his life, between his personality and individuality, between love and fear, between respect and outrage. And by truthful understanding could come clear distinction between right principles used at the right time on the right space that have constructive influence on Live producing Live sustainable processes but by miserable understanding comes discrimination and misty distinction or better said impotency with destructive influence on Live producing Live damaging processes. Who wants people to be damaged? Do people by them self to be damaged or to be mentaly or emotionaly impotent? For me are soldiers emotionaly impotent psychopats. I do not have right now better definition for somebody that is able to kill a member of his own kind the neerest kind a Human for money or anything. May be I am wrong May be that are all good people. Patriots. But who is patriot? I define for my self a word Patriot with big letter P somebody who acts by the principle of goodness against the member of his own kind with Respect against all Live. So there are three kind of people actively involved in the homicide game ( true definition of war) in this madness 1. the Patriots with damaged understanding and inability to clearly distict 2. patriots that are fighting for faith that could be defined like ignorance to the wisdom 3. businessmen 4. paid forces that are realy powerless according to definition of power as true Love and Compation. So I wonder if you can give me answears? I see you could realy make something only because you forget about your self with little s and by the way were able to search for the Self with the big S. I bet you used your contacts from your military carrier. But I have last question – Will you be able to shoot somebody face to face according to your experiences you gained with your son? Look in the Syria, Iraq, Palestine…. What a mass and for what? Because somebody thinks that knows everything and knows better what people need than them? This is just a pain and illness of the so called elite. The true Elite is you and people like you that can forget about their personality and search for thier individuality, forget about their exclusiveness and working on building inclusiveness in the hearts of human beings. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, …. Forget about the bloody past that boils your blood and pushes you to revange and motivats you to kill. Forgive Your Self so you can Give Forgivness, Love Your Self so you can Give Love, Respect Your Self so You can Teach the Once that are lost in their personality and smallness and live for their revenge. Teach them that We are ALL ONE, That all Universe is One Organism. Teach them that it is everybodies responsibility to build their own Heaven inside of them. GIVE LIVE A CHANCE. Forget about your false rightesness, hatre, fears from unknown, discrimination, pride, heal your pain. YOU are not ALONE We are ALL ONE. See hove are the words similar? Forget about definitions you have been told and make up your own, make as much on one subject as mach you can till you have wisdom, till you make decision to use only principles of High efficiency in your day to day Live in every breath you take. I am not a christian, not a jew not moslim…. I do not belong to any nation, to any phylosophy, to any party. I AM. A HUMAN this live. I Am a being that can freely choose and freely respect EXISTENTION a LIVE but also respect necesserily leave the body when time comes. BLESS YOU ALL BY WISDOM, COMPATION, JOY, EXTASY AND PLEASURE.

  11. After the death of his brother he "swore to never leave a wounded soldier behind." Not to fight anymore wars, which is what he shouldve done instead…

  12. אלוף במיל. דורון אלמוג Doron Almog, אב גאה לערן ז"ל ואיש מופת, שלח גם אלי את זה, ואני נרתם להפיץ את הבשורה. מי ייתן ונלך בדרכו ונלמד את שיעורו המאלף על צניעות, אי אנוכיות וסיוע למי שנברא עם יכולת מוגבלת להתמודד עם עולמנו. דורון, מגיבורי ישראל, שלחמו ביום כיפורים, שחררו באנטבה והביאו את אחינו האתיופים מסודן, הוא אח שכול. לערן בנו, קרא ע"ש אחיו ערן ז"ל שנהרג ביום כיפור כשהטנק שלו נפגע והוא נותר מדמם וזועק שבעה ימים, באין שומע, באין מציל. הדברים שתשמעו כאן, בהרצאה שלו בטד ת"א, באים מליבו של אדם כואב, אך נחוש להיאחז באופטימיות, ברצון לחזק את החוליה החלשה בחברה, כדי לחזק את כולנו כישראלים וכבני אדם. צפו, כי אי אפשר להוריד ממנו את העיניים. צפו, כי אי אפשר שלא לפתוח את הלב. מזמין אותכם חברי לתת כתף, כל אחד לפי רצונו.

  13. When studying in university I took a part-time job looking after mentally disabled teenagers/young adults. Thinking at first that I was "doing a favor" to society by undertaking this poorly payed job, I quickly realized that I was the student and that these wonderful people that I was working with were very much my teachers. When your intellect is compromised it does not mean that you are necessarily handicapped with your "emotional intelligence". In fact for some of these good people, particularly those with Down's Syndrome, I think the handicap in intellect allows the sharpening of their emotional skills. These were just a bunch of wonderful young people that in some ways understood what was important in life much better than I did. Working with these people was Indeed a humbling experience. I take my hat off to Doron Almog and his achievements to make the lives of these people better, and to bring them into mainstream society.

  14. תודה אהובה על הלינק המדהים , דורון אלמוג הוא גם קרוב משפחה שלך"האם ישנם עוד אנשים כמו …."

  15. I too had the privilege of mothering a special needs child. I feel so blessed to have my precious Tara visit me for two years. A life-changing and growth filled experience for sure.

  16. Mr Doron, you're a very strong man with a big heart. I cried listening to your talk. I can't imagine what you went through fighting for your country and later having a "special needs" child. The work that you continue in Alle Negev is beyond amazing. It's even more amazing that you accept ALL "special needs" people. I hope many people hear this message and embrace and love these people throughout the world. May God bless you abundantly and enlarge your territories and keep you away from anything that can cause you pain or harm.

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