Former member of the Israel parliament Effi Eitam, controversial for his views on the Israel-Palestine situation, spoke to students last night about politics between Iran and his home country.
Even before the event took place, it generated heated debate. As audience entered, member of the campus Palestine Solidarity Committee Abdelnasser Rashid ’11 handed out flyers that called Eitam’s controversial politics “racist and genocidal.”
“I think that it’s disturbing that someone who so openly advocates such racist policies is asked to speak here," said Rashid. "This isn’t what freedom of speech is about."
According to the flyer, Eitam had previously said that Palestinians are a “cancer in the body of the nation” and advocated that Israel “expel most of the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Arabs from here...Palestinians should be used as human shields by the IDF.”
The event was organized by the Harvard Students for Israel and sponsored by the Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International—a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing Israel’s image through accurate coverage.
Co-President of The Harvard Students for Israel Matthew R. Cohen ’11 said that the decision to host Eitam reflects an intent “to promote a variety of opinion in regard to understanding Israel politics, including that of Mr. Eitam.”
Eitam’s talk avoided the more controversial topics of Palestine-Israel conflict and centered mostly on discussion of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, which he called an “existential problem” that will culminate in “enormous tragedy.”
Eitam predicted that in a year or two, other Islamic countries will follow suit in developing nuclear weapon programs. “It is the opening point for a nuclear arms race within the Islamic world which will not be stopped until the whole region will have nuclear weapons,” he said.
When asked by a member of the audience about his prediction for Isreal’s response to Iran’s nuclear weapon program, Eitam—a former Israeli war hero who gained acclaim for his bravery in the Yom Kippur War—responded that it was “almost inevitable that military action will be taken.”
Regarding the Israel-Palestine situation, Eitam said that there is no easy solution unless Israel begins to take more risk and stop withdrawing from its different settlements.
“I think it’s important for both the U.S. and the rest of the free world to stop the potential spread of rogue regime activity as demonstrated so clearly and so many times by the Iranian regime,” said Cohen after the talk.
—Staff writer Jessie J. Jiang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.