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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."

jessie-lynne.kerr@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4374