Ephraim (Efi, Effie) Eitam (Fein) אפי איתם is an Israeli religious Zionist politician. Eitam is a Knesset member and the leader of the Mafdal - National Religious Party of Israel.
He is a Brigadier General (reserves) and a war hero of the Israeli Defence Forces. He earned a medal of honor עיטור המופת in the Yom Kippur War.
Born in 1952 in Kibbutz Ein Gev and receiving secular education, Eitam joined the Israeli Defence Forces and became a promiment officer. During his military service he became an orthodox Jew ( חזר בתשובה ). Eitam has M.A. in political science and international relations. He is married with 8 children and lives in Moshav Nov in the Golan Heights.
War hero, has medal of honor.
After his retirement from military service, Eitam - one of the most senior religious combat officers - was hinted as the future leader of the Religious Zionism. Eitam is very hawkish and straight in his approach. He is very loyal to his idealogy and unwilling to compromise it - even as a political scheme. He is often criticized for this approach mainly by his internal political rival Zvulon Orlev from Mafdal and the left wing. The Israeli left wing "loves to hate" Eitam and sees him as a nationalist zealot and a fanatic self-proclaimed Messiah, this is due to an interview in which was quoted as saying "I have a dream to lead the entire Israeli people. I think it is my destiny". Eitam usual answer to his critics is "I came to lead, not to do petty politics."
Maariv's chief editor Amnon Dankner wrote on Effie Eitam:
- Effie 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 MK Avshalom (Abu) 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.
Maariv, 2004-05-21 (http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&xCache=%7Bts%20%272004%2D07%2D31%2023%3A09%3A40%27%7D&articleID=7692)
In 2002, Eitam joined Mafdal and was elected as its leader. On March, 2002 - Eitam and Mafdal joined Ariel Sharon's first government and encouraged him to increase military operations against terror and order a large counter terror operation aimed at thoroughly destroying the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank. March's 135 Israeli casualties of Palestinian suicide bombings, climaxed at the Passover massacre, along with Mafdal's increasing pressure forced Sharon to order Operation Defensive Shield. The grand military operation, with 29 fallen Israeli soldiers and hundreds of dead Palestinian, was a drastic change in the course of the al-Aqsa Intifada and perceived by many Israelis as the turning point in which the IDF began overcoming terror. Since than, the rate of successful Palestinian attacks has sharply decreased.
2003 and hence
On March, 2003, Eitam agreed to join the second Sharon's government with Likud, Shinui and the National Union on the following base principles:
- Hard line policy against Palestinian terrorism and increasing use of the military for counter terror operations.
- Supporting the Road Map for Peace, but on reservation that the Palestinians should stop terror and replace Yasser Arafat with a democratically chosen Prime Minister.
- Supporting the Israeli West Bank barrier, on condition that it will include the major settlement blocks in the West Bank.
- Finding a solution to people who can't marry according to Jewish law in something similar to civilian marriage.
- Drafting the ultra-orthodox Jews to military service like the rest of the people.
- Keeping the Jewish character of the state of Israel intact.
- Obligation that Shinui won't commit unilateral actions in state & religion affairs, but rather will talk out issue with Mafdal and reach a compromise.
Following Sharon's Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004 from the Gaza Strip which hints at the removal of Jewish settlements from the strip, Efi Eitam and Rabbi Itzhak Levi resigned from the government and quit the coalition. See Current Status of Mafdal for further discussion.
Although Eitam is strongly opposed to the removal of settlements, he was the first to publicly condemn calls to refuse orders and to violently opposing the dismantling of a settlements.  (http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&xCache=%7Bts%20%272004%2D07%2D31%2023%3A08%3A50%27%7D&articleID=8999)
Eitam vs Orlev
See here (proper discussion under the same name in Zevulun Orlev's article).
See also: Current Status of Mafdal.
- Minister Without Portfolio (from 08/04/2002 Until 18/09/2002)
- Minister of National Infrastructure (from 18/09/2002)
- Minister of Housing and Construction (From 03/03/2003 Until 10/06/2004 )
- Effie Eitam page on the Knesset website (http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=715)
- Eitam's Medal of Distinguish Service and the story behind it (http://www.aka.idf.il/iturim/asp/displayOneSoldier.asp?doc_ID=28895) (IDF Manpower website)