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Friday, June 27, 2008

Effie Eitam calls for 'moral coalition' to oppose Iran

In March, I was sitting in downtown Boston's only Kosher restaurant when I saw a familiar face at one of the nearby tables. Unfortunately, I did not have the nerve to try to strike up a conversation with him (can you all believe that?), because when I asked one of the workers in the restaurant it turns out that the familiar face was none other than National Union/National Religious Party MK Effie Eitam. I thought of that moment when I saw the video below, which was posted by Democracy Broadcasting over at LiveLeak, because it occurred to me that the speech of which you are about to watch an excerpt may have been made during that same trip to the US.

Israeli Parliamentarian, Gen. (Ret.) Effie Eitam, talks smart and tough about the seriousness of the Islamist nuclear threat against Israel - intent on resuming Hitler's incomplete annihilation of Jewry and global domination - and the West's moral responsibility to militarily prevent Iran's professed Armageddon in the name of Allah.

Let's go to the videotape, and then I'll have some comments.

First, a word about Eitam's background. Effie Eitam grew up on non-religious Kibbutz Ein Gev at the foot of the Golan Heights. He became religious during his IDF service, which is more unusual than those who - unfortunately - go in the opposite direction. He now lives in Nov, a religious Moshav on the Golan Heights. There's much more about Eitam's background here, but in his thirty-year IDF career, he is probably the most decorated officer the IDF has ever produced. Here are some of his achievements.
* Brigadier General (1971-2001).
* Commanded Sayeret Golani in Operation Entebbe [July 4, 1976. CiJ].
* Commanded an infantry battalion in Operation Litani [1978. CiJ].
* Commanded an officers' school battalion during the 1982 Lebanon War.
* Commanded the Givati Brigade during the first Intifada [1988-92. CiJ].
* Awarded Medal of Distinguished Service during Yom Kippur War, where on October 7, [1973 - the second day of the War when the Syrians nearly overran the Golan. CiJ] Eitam and his sergeant stopped Syrian tanks from penetrating the Golan Heights's Nafah, using 3 Bazooka bombs and heavy machine gun and later rescued the wounded from Nafah.
Eitam eventually became the first religious officer to be a member of the General Staff of the IDF (like the Joint Chiefs in the United States) and he eventually left the IDF when he realized that they would never make him the Chairman. He's also a man the Israeli Left loves to hate :-)

When he left the IDF, there was actually talk of him joining the Likud. Recall that Eitam left the army in 2001. Binyamin Netanyahu had been defeated by Ehud Barak as Prime Minister in 1999 and had actually left politics and gone onto the lecture circuit. Ariel Sharon became Likud leader by default when Netanyahu left, and Netanyahu was unable to run in the special election against Barak in early 2001 (around the same time Eitam left the army) because he was not an MK, and so Sharon became Prime Minister. Eitam did not join the Likud - probably because he did not want to wait in the wings behind Sharon and maybe also because he sensed the disagreements with Sharon that would come to light over the plan to expel Jews from Gaza.

Eitam eventually joined the National Religious Party. In 2004, when Sharon pushed through the expulsion plan, Sharon and Yitzchak Levi left the government and the National Religious Party when the NRP refused to leave the government with them (yes folks, the National Religious Party helped Sharon push through the expulsion plan and don't let anyone tell you otherwise). Eitam and Levi joined the National Union, which eventually united with the National Religious Party for the 2006 elections.

Effie Eitam is a rarity in Israeli politics: an honest politician. He has principles and he doesn't compromise them. While his call for a 'moral coalition' is unfortunately likely to fall on deaf ears, you should keep an eye on Eitam as a future leader. Here is a link to the more recent places on this blog where I have previously discussed him.


At 5:30 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I've always admired him. If any one is going to be Israel's first religious Prime Minister, its Effie Eitam. He's the kind of man who has a world view, has principles and says what Israel must do to secure her future. All in striking contrast to the current Israeli elite that has no principles, who don't know what to do next and are more concerned about their power than the country's future. All we can do is hope Eitam is the man Israelis will turn to some day to lead the country.

At 2:20 AM, Blogger DemoCaster said...

I'm pleased you referenced one of our films of Gen. Eitam's appearance!

Even better are Gen. Eitam's complete remarks (to the Zionist Organization of America) about Israel weighing defensive options against Iran.



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