by Lisa Samin
Tall, serene and commanding, Major General Johanan Locker, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Military Secretary, is a very powerful man. In his sterling 30-year Air Force career Locker has given only two interviews. And because of his belief in the program, one of them was recently to Atidim. "I support Atidim 100 percent," says Locker. "It is a program that is bringing about tangible change in Israel."
Locker first analyzes the current trends sweeping the region. "Our enemies in the Arab countries have come to the conclusion that they cannot defeat us on the battlefield, so they are now attacking us through a "new theater" world opinion," says Locker. "They are using the Internet to delegitimize Israel and we must fight this daily."
Yet, when looking at the Middle East, Israel is the only democracy says Locker. The standards of the Supreme Court are on par with the United States and Canada. Freedom of the press is a given. And the military's moral standards are something that every Jewish person can be proud of.
"Israel has fought seven wars in its 62-year existence," says Locker. "We fought for our survival, as a Jewish and democratic state. We must always maintain our right to defend our state and the Jewish people."
This brings Locker to the role of Atidim. "Atidim touches the core issue of Israel's national security; training human capital," says Locker. "Our investment in our young people is directly related to our ability to stay on the cutting edge - militarily, economically and socially".
At the same time, Locker says that helping outstanding youngsters from outlying areas to move forward and utilize their potential make Israel a much stronger country. "We cannot afford to waste anyone's potential," continues Locker.
Locker recalls meeting Atidim's passionate supporters from Israel and all over the world, specifically Israeli industrialist and Atidim's Chairman of the Board Eitan Eitan Wertheimer and Atidim's Co-chair of the International Board, Leanor Segal. "The people who are devoted to Atidim are amazing," says Locker. "This program is about strengthening Israel; about ensuring our future and the Jewish future, and they are an important part of this."
Looking at the growing number of participants in Atidim's programs, Locker predicts that the critical mass of graduates will have a profound affect on every sphere of Israeli society - from health to education, from security to politics, from civil service to culture.
"I am devoted to Atidim," says Locker candidly. "There is no better return on our investment."