Effi Eitam


Effi Eitam

MKs


Date of birth = Birth date and age|1952|7|25|df=y
Year of Aliyah =
Date of death =
Knesset(s) = 16th, 17th (current)
Party = Ahi
(part of the National Union)
Former parties = National Religious Party
Gov't roles = Minister without Portfolio
Minister of National Infrastructure
Minister of Housing and Construction

Efraim "Effi" Eitam ( _he. אפרים "אפי" איתם, born July 25, 1952), [ [http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=715 Effi Eitam biography] Knesset website] is an Israeli politician. Eitam is a Knesset member, head of Ahi, which forms part of the National Union, and the former leader of the National Religious Party. He serves on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees.

A Hardal Israeli, he was born in kibbutz Ein Gev and received a secular education. When he was old enough, Eitam joined the Israeli Defense Forces. Eitam has M.A. in Political Science and in International Relations. He is also an esteemed former student of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is married and has eight children and lives in Nov, a moshav in the Golan Heights.

Eitam is a Brigadier General (reserves) in the Israel Defense Forces, and is considered a war hero by the State of Israel, having earned Israel's Medal of Distinguished Service in the Yom Kippur War. He also participated in Operation Entebbe.

Military career

* Brigadier General (1971-2001).
* Commanded Sayeret Golani in Operation Entebbe.
* Commanded an infantry battalion in Operation Litani.
* Commanded an officers' school battalion during the 1982 Lebanon War.
* Commanded the Givati Brigade during the first Intifada.
* Awarded "Medal of Distinguished Service" during Yom Kippur War, where on October 7, 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.

Political career

After his retirement from military service, Eitam - among the senior religious combat officers - was suggested as a future leader of the religious Zionist movement. Eitam is considered hawkish and very direct in his approach to the possibility of peace in the Middle East. A loyalist to his ideology, Eitam is known for not compromising what he sees as his values - even for diplomacy. Eitam leadership has seen the building of 14 new settlements in the Negev and Galil and the expansion of existing settlements in the West Bank. Being a vocal opponent of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal (disengagement) from Gaza in 2005, Eitam moved his family to the Gaza town of Gush Katif six months before the plan went into effect.

His approach has been subject to criticism, and often by internal political rivals, like Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party (NRP) and from the left wing of Israel's political establishment.

The Israeli left wing sees him as a nationalist zealot and some have accused him of being a fanatic or a self-proclaimed Messiah. An interview that may have provoked these accusations was one in which he was quoted as saying "I have a dream to lead the entire Israeli people. I think it is my destiny". Eitam has responded to this with, "I came to lead, not to do petty politics."

Maariv's chief editor Amnon Dankner wrote on Effi Eitam:: Effi Eitam is one of those figures that the Israeli Left has for years been nurturing as its pet-hate. He was swathed in a pall as being responsible for exaggerated beatings during the days of the first Intifada.: ... he is a land-grabber, "one of ours" – a kibbutznik from Ein Gev turned zealously religious and nationalistic and he is surrounded by an unpleasant aura of irrationality, like one who sees himself in an almost-messianic light.: Despite all this, it was a fascinating experience to watch him on TV's "New Evening" program two days ago confronting Meretz-Yachad MK Avshalom Vilan in a reasonable, measured and humane manner, demonstrating restraint and deep pain, fitting for someone discussing such a painful issue – the lethal attack in Rafah. In contrast, Vilan was hysterical, loud, condescending and irrational.

2003 to present

In March 2003, Eitam agreed to join Sharon's second government along with Likud, Shinui and the National Union.

Following Sharon's tabling of the disengagement plan, Eitam and Yitzhak Levi resigned from the government and quit the coalition.

Although Eitam is strongly opposed to the removal of settlements, he was the first to publicly condemn calls to refuse orders and to violently oppose the dismantling of settlements.

In October 2005, Eitam opposed a Supreme Court of Israel ruling that banned the IDF from using Palestinians as human shields, stating that "Supreme court judges demonstrated today that their pity for the cruel will prove cruel to the merciful and will expose Israeli soldiers to more danger" [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4314898.stm |title=Israel bans use of human shields |publisher=BBC |date=2005-10-06 |accessdate=2008-01-29] .

Eitam vs Orlev

See Zevulun Orlev vs Eitam.

National Union

In 2004, Eitam and Levi quit the government as a protest over the disengagement plan. However, the National Religious Party (NRP) refused to leave the coalition. Eventually, Eitam and Levi left the NRP too and formed the Renewed Religious National Zionist Party, later renamed Ahi, which would later join the National Union - a Knesset list of right-wing parties.

Disengagement plan

Effi Eitam was one of the prominent opposers to Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan (which included the removal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip) and was among the leaders of the public campaign against it. After the government approved the plan, Eitam resigned from Israel Ministry of Housing and from the government, together with Yitzhak Levi.

Despite his objection to the plan, Eitam expressed his rejection of violent protests and refusal of military service. Eitam emphasised this several times.

In a harsh speech delivered on 11 January 2005, Eitam called Sharon "refuser of democracy" ("סרבן דמוקרטיה") and attacked him for refusing to conduct a national poll on the plan. Eitam claimed Sharon was promoting the disengagement plan by threatening and firing objectors and by making corrupt deals. Eitam also claimed that the Left running an incitement campaign against the settlers, which include provocations and calls to spill their blood, in order to delegitimize that right-wing campaign against the disengagement plan. Despite the harsh criticism, Eitam denounced military refusal and violence. He concluded that in the end of struggle "If you don't listen to the call to bring back the decision to the healthy and strong people, we shall send you home, and it will be painful and shameful, that will erase the achievements of your manhood."

On March 2005, after the Israeli Southern Command issued a decree forbidding relocation to the Gaza Strip, Eitam announced his intention to go and live in Gush Katif in order to reinforce the settlers and help prevent their eviction. Eventually, over Passover, Eitam moved to Netzer Hazani. Left-wing members of the Knesset denounced Eitam's move but the speaker of the house, Reuven Rivlin, said that the move fell under the immunity members of the Knesset have.

Because of his objection to military refusal and violence, Eitam used as a negotiator between the opposers to the plan and Israeli security forces and earned the trust and honor of both sides. Eitam arranged a massive weapons recall in all the settlement due to be removed, in order to prevent any chance of bullets being fired by accident or the heat of the moment. [ [http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/976/005.html#AAAMZdAACAAAIwvAAY MK Effi Eitam (HaTzionut HaDatit)] Maariv, 25 August 2005 he icon] He declared that the settlers will not use violence against Israeli security officers. Eitam also insisted that the removal forces would be unarmed. He explained his actions:

: "It is about the expulsion of thousands of people from their homes. It is important to reach negotiation and discussion, it is important to shape the rules of the struggle in such a way that it will be conducted with determination, and on the other hand won't pull Israel to the abyss from which there is no return. It is not about acceptance with the disengagement [plan] but on the contrary, it is a struggle of multitude of people who will struggle with responsibility." [ [http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3066242,00.html Ezra: Whoever participates in the evacuation will not be armed] Yedioth Ahronoth, 31 March 2005 he icon]

Iמ July 2005 Eitam initiated a "struggle treaty" and got members of the Knesset and rabbis to sign it. The treaty set the rules of struggle against the disengagement [plan] and the red lines. The treaty declared on rejection of any kind of violence.: "Our struggle will be innocent of any form of violence. No one shall us physical or verbal violence against Israel Defense Forces soldier, Israeli Police officers and security forces members."In addition, it was decided that the protest will be done unarmed, in order to prevent blood spilling or use of firearms. The treaty was distributed in thousands of copies to the ten of thousands participants of the "joining march" to Kefar Maimon.

Eitam was present in Gush Katif during its evacuation, and acted as a negotiator and mediator wherever he could. After the removal of Netzer Hazani Eitam moved to Netzarim and accompanied them during their evacuation. He event took part in the removal of Torah books from the settlement's synagogue.

On 25 August 2005, Eitam was quoted as explaining that the reason there was no violence was not the security forces but the settlers' own restraint and decision not to use violence. [cite web |url=http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/976/059.html |title=גימיקים לא חסרים |author=Ben Kaspit |publisher=NRG |date=2005-08-25 |accessdate=2007-01-29 |language=Hebrew] Eitam rebuked those who said that the settlers didn't use violence because they were afraid from the multitude of officers and said "We were not afraid from the multitude of cops and horses, it is ridiculous to think that our people, with swift boys, war-though men and its wives and men are scorned by mortar shells, explosive charges and graves, will be afraid of physical confrontation with the cops. This shallow and evil claim miss the main thing, and therefore so dangerous. [cite web |url=http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/978/348.html |title=עכשיו תורכם |author=Effi Eitam |date=2005-09-01 |accessdate=2008-01-29 |language=Hebrew]

Amona

On 2 February 2006 Eitam was injured when Israeli police tried to disperse a protest of thousands of West Bank settlers who were blocking the demolition of nine homes in the Israeli settlement of Amona. The protest became violent, and Eitam, who was one of three Israeli nationalist lawmakers amongst the crowds, was knocked down. Eitam was hospitalized with minor injuries. Eitam later commented that the police should not have followed a direct order from a temporary prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who asked them to use "violence" against fellow Israelis [cite web |url=http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48613 |title=Israeli forces brutalize protesters |author=Aaron Klein |publisher=WorldNet Daily |date=2006-02-01 |accessdate=2008-01-29]

On 9 February 2006, the National Union formed a joint-slate with the NRP, Eitam's former party, in order to run in the Israel legislative election, 2006.

Controversy

On 10 September 2006 during a memorial ceremony for a fallen Israeli soldier, IDF First Lieutenant Amihai Merhavia, who was killed in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, Eitam said, "we'll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from political system," and "We have raised a fifth column, a group of traitors." [cite web |url=http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3302275,00.html |title=Eitam: Expel Palestinians, dismiss Arab MKs |author=Efrat Weiss |publisher=ynet |date=2006-09-11 |accessdate=2007-01-29] Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz warned Eitam at the time that criminal charges could be brought against him, was he to repeat those statements. [cite web |url=http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/807022.html |title=AG to Eitam: Repeating anti-Arab comments may lead to charges |author=Yuval Yoaz and Gideon Alon |publisher=Haaretz |date=2006-09-11 |accessdate=2008-01-29]

Eitam has also called Israeli Arabs a "cancer": " [T] he Israeli Arabs are in large measure the ticking bomb beneath the whole democratic Israeli order inside the [1967] Green Line. Even today, in the Galilee and the Negev, a de facto autonomy of theirs is being created, which could in practice turn Israel into the bubble of Metropolitan Tel Aviv .… Therefore, I say that the State of Israel today faces an existential threat that is characterized by being an elusive threat, and elusive threats by their nature resemble cancer. Cancer is a type of illness in which most of the people who die from it die because they were diagnosed too late. By the time you grasp the size of the threat, it is already too late to deal with it." [cite web |url=http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=143671 |author=Ari Shavit |title=Dear God, this is Effi |publisher=Haaretz |date=2002-03-24 |accessdate=2008-01-29] . Commenting on this, the veteran Israeli journalist, Akiva Eldar, wrote in Haaretz, "The fact that the Nazis were especially fond of this [cancer] metaphor is probably not lost on the general." [cite web |url=http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=148168 |title=A Nazi by any other name |author=Akiva Eldar |publisher=Haaretz |date=2002-04-04 |accessdate=2008-01-29]

Eitam also wants a religious redeployment and create a manageable Non-Jewish minority within Israel and Judea and Samaria [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3302275,00.html] .

Eitam has called on the U.S. Government to take an offensive against Iraq and has stated that Israel is prepared to take on Iran alone, saying, "a Nuclear Iran is not an option for Israel." [cite web |url=http://www.zoa.org/2007/05/major_zoa_lectu.htm |title=Major ZOA Lecture: MK Gen. Effie Eitam Warned -- "Israel Will Take Action If Diplomacy/Sanctions Fail" To Stop Iran Getting Nuclear Bomb |publisher=Zionist Organization of America |date=2007-05-09 |accessdate=2008-01-29]

On June 1, 2007, Eitam blasted a declassified British report that suggested the Entebbe raid was staged by Israel. [cite web |url=http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Diplomacy/11465.htm |title=Eitam: UK claims of Israeli collusion in 1976 hijacking "audacious" |publisher=israelinsider |date=2007-06-02 |accessdate=2008-01-29]

In March 2008 Eitam called for the expulsion of Israeli Arab members of the Knesset, "One day we will expel you to Gaza from this house and from the national home of the Jewish people." [cite web |url=http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=962040 |title=The core issue is not Jerusalem |publisher=Haaretz |date=2008-04-09 |accessdate=2008-04-09]

References

External links

* [http://www.eitam.org.il/index_en.asp The Official Website of Brigadier General Effie Eitam]
* [http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/?p=6836 May 2007 Interview and transcript of that interview. Eitam calls for Olmert to resign.]
* [http://www.aka.idf.il/iturim/asp/displayOneSoldier.asp?docId=28895 Eitam's Medal of Distinguished Service and the story behind it] he icon


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