An Israeli counselor for Middle Eastern affairs defended Israel’s actions during this summer’s conflict with Hezbollah at a Harvard Students for Israel event yesterday.
Eynat Shlein-Michael, the counselor, who is based in Israel’s Washington D.C. embassy said that Israel was not fighting a “war” against Lebanon but was engaged in a “conflict” with the non-state terror organization Hezbollah.
“We chose not to fight Lebanon. Hezbollah is our enemy,” she said.
Shlein-Michael said the conflict started when Hezbollah launched a long-range missile into Haifa, the third largest city in Israel.
“It was a declaration of war in Israel’s point of view,” she said. “They should have anticipated that Israel will feel the need to retaliate forcefully.”
“Israel would have rather avoided the events of this summer,” she said.
Lebanese student Nour Kibbi ’10 asked Shlein-Michael after her talk about strategic mistakes that Israel had made during the conflict.
“I am but a humble diplomat,” Shlein-Michael answered, assuring the audience that the government will look into any mistakes it finds were made.
Shlein-Michael started her speech by making it clear that she represented only Israel’s point of view.
“I am an Israeli diplomat. I am going to present it from Israel’s point of view,” she said.
In response to questions about Shlein-Michaels’ thoughts on the stability of the region, she said, “If I was not an optimist I would not be in this profession.”
Shlein-Michael has given several talks over the last week at New England colleges, according to Gerri R. Pozez, academic affairs officer for the Consulate General of Israel in Boston. Shlein-Michael, who received a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government in 2000, has already spoken at Mt. Holyoke, Middleburry, Dartmouth, and Boston College Law School.
Harvard Students for Israel president Rebecca M. Rohr ’08 introduced the visit as “particularly timely” in light of the ongoing events in the region.