Netanyahu offers Yad Vashem post to Effi Eitam

The appointment was seen as an overture to religious-Zionist voters, but Eitam also has a family history with the Holocaust.

THE YAD VASHEM monument to Righteous Among the Nations.  (photo credit: UKRAINIANJEWISHENCOUNTER.ORG/WIKIPEDIA)
THE YAD VASHEM monument to Righteous Among the Nations.
(photo credit: UKRAINIANJEWISHENCOUNTER.ORG/WIKIPEDIA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called former cabinet minister and brigadier general Effi Eitam and offered him the chance to be the chairman of Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.
If he agrees to take the post, Eitam would replace Avner Shalev, who was in the position for 27 years.
The appointment was seen as an overture to religious-Zionist voters, but Eitam also has a family history with the Holocaust.  
His grandparents were murdered by their neighbors in Latvia who knew them. His mother was a nurse in the Red Army, who served in some of the worst fronts.
Eitam served in the Knesset from 2003 to 2009. He was minister of construction and housing and minister of national infrastructures.
He won a medal for distinguished service during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
“There is no one more fitting for this post than Effi Eitam, who is a hero of wars, gained management experience in the cabinet and is the ultimate professional,” said Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi.
But Eitam’s critics noted investigations in the IDF that found that he had ordered the beating of Palestinian rioters, bragged about it and was scolded by the IDF chief of staff. They said alleged abuses of human rights made him unfit for such a sensitive post.
Former Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, said Netanyahu had made his appointments into a Turkish bazaar.
"Instead of appointing a senior statesman to the sensitive post at such an important and holy institution, Netanyahu is cynically using it for political capital and appointing a man who enabled the cruel beating of Palestinians," she said. "His racist statements are exactly the opposite of what is needed for the chairman of an institution that defends human rights."
Another former Meretz leader, Yossi Beilin, said he had no expectations from Netanyahu and nothing surprises him anymore.
"At least he didn't appoint him attorney-general," Beilin said.
Former Labor MK Colette Avital, the chairperson of the Central Organization of Holocaust Survivors, said she had no criticism of the possible appointment and that her post required her to stay clear of politics.
“From serving in the Knesset with him, I saw him as committed, energized and honest,” she said. “But I do not know what knowledge and what sensitivity he is equipped. I knew him under different circumstances as a minister full of plans and of energy. Yad Vashem is a sensitive place, which has built its reputation and credibility on thorough and serious research, and I have no idea if and how he sees the position and wants to pursue that.”