The man who says aliens have already landed

Haim Eshed: Former head of Israel’s space agency and visiting professor at the Sackler Institute

How crazy is it to believe in aliens? A former lieutenant-colonel in Israeli military intelligence has given an interview claiming that contact has been made with extraterrestrials.

The editor of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper gave a wide smile and slapped his reporter on the back. Here was a scoop if ever there was one! The ex-head of the Israeli Defence Ministry’s space directorate had come out with a statement that was sure to cause ripples around the world. Haim Eshed had declared unequivocally that aliens exist – and that a treaty had been agreed with them.

The reason we have not been told about them, the 87-year-old professor explained, is that “The Unidentified Flying Objects have asked not to publish the fact that they are here. Humanity is not ready yet.”

President Trump, he said, had been informed of their existence, and had been on the verge of revealing it to the public – but was asked not to in order to avoid mass hysteria. "There is an agreement between the US government and the aliens. They signed a contract with us to do experiments here.”

The aliens, he added, belong to a “galactic federation” and are seeking to understand the fabric of the universe. To that end they have built an “underground base in the depths of Mars” that American astronauts have visited.

“They have been waiting until today for humanity to develop and reach a stage where we will understand, in general, what space and spaceships are.”

“If I had come up with what I'm saying today five years ago,” he admitted, “I would have been hospitalised. Today, they're already talking differently. I have nothing to lose. I've received my degrees and awards, I am respected in universities abroad.”

That much is certainly true. Eshed, who oversaw the launch of numerous satellites, has been a member of the Sackler Institute and was awarded the Israeli Defence Award for Technological Achievements on three occasions.

He is not the only respected scientist to raise eyebrows recently. A team of astronomers in the Australian Outback have reported seeing ghostly circles in the sky. Professor Ray Norris said that the “odd radio circles” might be the result of a “humongous explosion” a billion light years away.

“I think it’s significant when you find something you weren’t expecting,” he said. “Often it opens up a whole new area of understanding.”

There have been mixed reactions to Eshed’s claims. “Either this is some sort of practical joke or publicity stunt to help sell his book… or someone in the know is breaking ranks,” said Nick Pope, who used to investigate UFOs for the British Ministry of Defence.

In Spiked magazine, Eshed was roundly ridiculed. Research into the fabric of the universe can be carried out anywhere, Hugh Mann pointed out: “That’s why they call it the universe!” As for the Galactic Federation, Mann questioned whether an alien government would have a structure that humans could understand – particularly one that “so closely resembles the one featured on our beloved audio-visual program Star Trek”.

Several joke Twitter accounts have been set up by people pretending to be representatives of the “Galactic Federation”.

How crazy is it to believe in aliens?

Mirth on Earth

Some say, hugely. NASA has been searching for proof of their existence for decades, and none has been produced. Even scientists are prone to wild beliefs. It is absurd to suggest that Trump, who craves publicity and whips up mass hysteria whenever he can, would miss a chance to announce such a discovery.

Others argue that claims by a scientist as distinguished as Eshed should not be dismissed out of hand. The details may sound absurd, but the underlying idea is not. As the Australian discovery underlines, we are far from understanding everything about the universe. There could very well be other life forms out there, and we should admit that this is an issue about which we cannot be sure.

You Decide

  1. What is the most incredible thing you have been told that has turned out to be true?
  2. Are we right to trust scientists more than we do other people?

Activities

  1. Draw a design for a Galactic Federation base on Mars.
  2. Imagine that Earth is holding a referendum on whether to join the Galactic Federation. Write a speech either supporting or opposing the idea and deliver it to your class.

Some People Say...

“It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.”

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903 - 1990), British journalist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
It is generally agreed that the greatest mass hysteria over the existence of aliens was sparked by a radio programme in 1938. The brilliant actor Orson Welles directed an adaptation of HG Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds, which used news flashes reporting that aliens had landed in New Jersey. Many listeners thought that they were listening to a report of actual events; the radio station’s switchboard was swamped with calls, and mobs were reported to have taken to the streets.
What do we not know?
One main area of debate is around whether governments know more about the existence of aliens than they are letting on. NASA says that it is “exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, including whether we are alone in the universe”, but has found no proof of extraterrestrials. But conspiracy theorists have nicknamed NASA “Never A Straight Answer”, and claim that it destroyed evidence of aliens found by the Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon.

Word Watch

Yediot Aharonot
Israel’s largest newspaper. Launched in 1939, it has been accused of using dirty tricks to beat its competitors, such as bugging their phones.
Scoop
A journalistic term which means beating everyone else in the media to a story. It is also the title of a hilarious novel by Evelyn Waugh about the adventures of an accidental war reporter.
Unequivocally
Clearly or without doubt. “Equivocal” comes from a Latin word meaning “equal voice”.
Professor
Eshed’s academic qualifications include a doctorate in aeronautical engineering. He was head of research and development for Israel’s military intelligence.
Galactic
The adjective related to the word “galaxy”, meaning a system of stars. It derives from the Greek word for “milky”, and was first applied to the Milky Way.
Sackler Institute
The Mortimer and Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies in Tel Aviv is one of several distinguished academic centres founded by the Sackler family. However, the family has been accused of contributing to the opioid crisis in America through its pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma.
Astronomers
The team were using the new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, consisting of 36 12-metre-wide dish antennae.
Outback
The huge, largely uninhabited central area of Australia. The remotest parts of it are known as the Never-Never.

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