The announcement that Argentina’s soccer team is pulling out of a visit here and a friendly game with Israel’s national team was made last night, so you heard about the decision then if it was of interest.
I went to sleep believing that the visit was still on. I had a rude awakening when I heard at 6:45 a.m. what Argentina had decided. For a moment, I was upset, but then I recalled how a Major League Baseball team, due to play an exhibition game with the Atlanta Crackers, my favorites until today, pulled out because there were no decent hotel rooms for the African-American players to stay in — only the black hotels.
That team canceled its visit to Atlanta.
You might say that was a different era because ultimately African-Americans have risen to the top of many of the major sports. They won, hotels or not.
Today’s problem is an international one. Argentina, never a big friend to Israel except for Israeli weaponry, bowed to BDS, the Palestinian boycott, the Arab countries’ “hatred” of Israel, and the lack of support from American and European countries.
Boldly, it is asked, “Why should Israel be permitted to participate in a game when the other team has the outstanding player in the world, Messi? Palestinians are being killed in great numbers; why should Israelis be cheerful?”
Israel’s sports minister, Miri Regev, a populist figure, believed all would go well.
She moved the game from Haifa to Jerusalem; strike one. She told the crew doing the filming that she should be in every major shot; strike two. With all of this, she made sure that all her buddies had tickets; strike three.
Most Israeli fans stood in line for hours, only to discover no tickets were available. Regev went on TV, the Internet and all the social media to assure Israelis how great the game would be.
A close friend, an Israeli and noted writer in English from South Africa, told me today: “David, there are secret contacts between Israel and some Arab countries. However, those links cannot be public now, nor does anyone know what they mean. The only way the Arabs can act publicly is punch Israel in every possible way.”
He continued: “Anti-Semitism is still rife throughout the world. It continues to blossom time after time. Argentina has to stay in line because the country needs the Arab oil and the Arab purchases. They cannot stop because these countries need the money. Without it, they might go under. Israel has only brain power to offer, no natural resources.”
The African-American spiritual redone a bit sounds like this:
Dry bones, dry bones, Israel is good enough for me.
The bones rise again as they are connected — Ben-Gurion, Begin, bone onward.
But soccer bones or not — soccer Israel’s favorite sport.
Israel thankfully will keep rising
As long as Minister Miri Regev keeps her mouth shut.