Last modified Mon., February 05, 2007 - 01:45 AM Originally created Monday, February 5, 2007
Work with us, visiting Israeli urges The retired general speaks in Jacksonville, addressing past and present issues.
By JESSIE-LYNNE KERR, The Times-Union
A retired Israeli general who is a member of the Knesset, the country's parliament, cautioned a Jacksonville audience Sunday that people on both sides of the globe should be prepared to sacrifice to save the values shared by Americans and Israelis.
Retired Israeli Defense Forces Gen. Efraim Eitam was a guest of the Medical Enterprise Development Group, or M-EDG, a Jacksonville-based medical products company whose division, the Florida-Israel Biomedical Initiative, is dedicated to U.S. commercialization of Israel's biomedical devices and products.
In his talk to an invited audience of civic, business and military dignitaries at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel, Eitam spoke of his more than 30 years of military experience in the IDF, fighting those who would wish his country would be wiped off the map.
He commanded the Israeli forces in southern Lebanon in 1998-99, commanded an elite commando unit in the Entebbe rescue mission in 1976 and was awarded the medal of valor for courage under fire in the Yom Kippur War.
He told of how his mother lived through the Holocaust in Europe and his father, born in China, survived a Japanese prison camp to make their way to Israel where they found each other.
"Nothing in Israel can be taken for granted," Eitam said. "Out of the Holocaust, we found the will and the power to build the State of Israel."
He cautioned that "the voices coming from Iran to destroy Israel with weapons of mass destruction" should not be ignored, or children in the future will ask where people were to save them from another holocaust.
He condemned what he called extreme elements in Islamic society, saying that during World War II, the Japanese kamikaze, or suicide pilots, hit military targets. "But to kill children and to kill women and to kill just for killing?"
He said Muslim extremists were "using the name of God for the horrible idea that people can be destroyed."
Eitam praised the Judeo-Christian tradition, saying it gives people a moral clarity of the way to treat the value of life.
"If we do what God wants us to do," he said, "we can do many things that seem impossible."
He noted that the United States has never been intimidated.
"With the purity of beliefs that we share," Eitam said, "there can be no enemy that we can't defeat."