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Decorated American War Hero Inspires Ariel

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On his first visit to Ariel, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant General Robert Foley inspired young Israeli cadets of a pre-military class at the ORT Yuvali High School with the message that the main skill a soldier must hone is integrity.

“Moral courage to do the right thing,” is how he defined integrity in front of the uniformed class of 50 students, who greeted the General with a military salute in the school yard on October 10, 2013.

Standing tall and dignified at six-foot-seven, General Foley told the class: “Every cadet has an honor code, and a cadet doesn’t lie, steal, cheat or tolerate anyone who does.”

He related a personal story of his military post in Hawaii when he questioned a false order issued to enable some cadets to avoid rifle training. Despite the disappointment from friends, he made sure they completed the training — for their sake.

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“The most compelling motivation was the intense regard that soldiers had for their own soldiers,” he related.

General Foley’s visit to Ariel was designed with tour guide and his childhood friend, Susan Marcus, to deepen his understanding of the region ahead of a tour of Israel with fellow Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and to further develop the American-Israeli friendship.

Following an introduction to Ariel with Avi Zimmerman, Executive Director of American Friends of Ariel, the General and Mayor Eli Shaviro exchanged stories about their respective army service, comparing and contrasting the American and Israeli systems. General Foley was surprised to learn that the IDF shares his favorite motto, “Follow Me.”

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As former Commander of Cadets at West Point Military Academy, General Foley held a roundtable discussion with senior Ariel University faculty on ways to inspire leadership and respect for others on campus.

The meeting was led by Chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad and included Prof. Alexander Bligh, director of the Middle East Research Center; former air force commander General Herzl Bodinger (res.); Iran expert Dr. Ronen Cohen; Col. Benny Michaelson (res.), head of Ariel University’s Israel Military History Commission; and Major General (res) Ami Shafran, former head of the IDF Teleprocessing Branch.

“It’s all about values,” General Foley said. “Getting the right values on campus makes it a lot easier.”

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While at West Point, General Foley was disheartened by behavior that belittled or demeaned others, and he worked to implement respect programs on campus. “It’s not only important for a combat situation, but for any organization.”

Noting the uphill battles that Ariel has overcome to create a thriving city, General Foley expressed his respect and admiration, and has more than earned the same in return.