Last night, Israeli Defense Forces Brigadier General Effi Eitam offered the Penn community a “wake-up call.”
Penn Israel Coalition hosted Eitam, a former member of Israel’s Knesset, yesterday evening at Hillel.
During his lecture, Eitam said he intended to enlighten Penn students about the situation in Iran. He discussed the relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East, focusing specifically on the Iranian nuclear threat and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Eitam explained that a connection between radical Islam and weapons of mass destruction would “change the world order forever.”
He described radical Islam as “a philosophy with no boundaries” which, combined with violence, could cause a catastrophe in the future if not dealt with. He said he doubts the U.S. would be able to deter a nuclear Iran, as it did with the Soviet Union.
Eitam also criticized the Goldstone Report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes. The report was endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council last month, a decision that Eitam strongly denounced.
“I bless the House of Representatives in America who rejected this report,” he said.
Eitam discussed the morality of the Israeli Defense Forces. For example, during the last war in Gaza, the IDF phoned hundreds of Palestinians an hour or two before bombing their buildings, asking them to leave their homes, he said.
Comparing Israel to the U.S. in World War II, Eitam attempted to validate Israel’s war policies. He referenced Harry Truman’s decision to drop nuclear bombs on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“Are you Americans going to accept that your president is a war criminal?” asked Eitam of Truman’s actions. “I don’t think you have to think so.”
But even if the political conflict in Palestine is resolved, Eitam said, it would be false to assume this would bring an end to the violence. He denied any causal link between the Palestinian conflict and radical Islam.
The discussion provoked reactions from students on both sides of the argument.
College freshman Humna Bhojani, for instance, said she “felt like this was a lot like a brainwashing session. It was extremely biased.”
College sophomore Gabriella Nolan commented that “the lecture lacked the reasoning behind the lack of societal resources causing Palestinian opposition to Israel.”
And for Rachel Baker, a College sophomore who helped organize the event, said although she does not agree with Eitam’s political beliefs, she thinks “it’s important to show the balance of thoughts in Israel.”Comments powered by Disqus
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