Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Club We Don't Need To Be In

As a Religious Zionist I have always looked at Israeli sports with a mixed view.  On one hand there is the instinctive pride one feels in seeing Jewish athletes competing with and (sometimes) holding their own against the best of other nations.  On the other hand I always remember that what we as a nation need to strive for is not to be as good as the Gentiles at their own games but to emulate the holiness of the Creator in our daily lives through our observance of the mitzvos.  
So it was with mixed feelings that I followed the recent crisis in Israeli sports, the one caused by the Arabs attempting to have Israel's national team kicked out of FIFA.
To be fair I'm not sure what the overall impact of such a move would have been on Israel.  It's not like the Israeli team ever makes it anywhere near the World Cup and an expulsion wouldn't affect the thriving national league.  There would certainly be a blow to the country's sporting pride but are we still so insecure that we need the Gentile world's approval to feel good about ourselves?
Fortunately or not the motion was recently withdrawn.  This was no doubt a tactical move by the Arabs.  Perhaps they knew that the Israelis had enough supportive votes to cause the motion to fail and, instead of being humiliated in from of FIFA our enemies chose to be "magnanimous" and cease their efforts.
I think it's more likely that the recent scandal regarding corruption at the highest levels of FIFA (although not the president himself, oh no, not him!) was the guiding factor behind the withdrawal.
FIFA doesn't look terribly good in the eyes of the world right now.  Most people knew that, like the IOC, the executive of the organization is hopelessly corrupt.  They know that the 2022 Qatar World Cup effort is supported by slave labour and that Third World workers are dying on a daily basis to build the sheikhdom's stadiums.  They know decisions are made based on bribery and graft.  Even so, this scandal blows open any pretense FIFA's executive had about presenting themselves as even halfway decent guardians of "the beautiful game".
Imagine the response to a vote to expel Israel from FIFA at this time.  They're standing in judgement of us?  Crooks and thieves are deciding whether or not Israel is morally pure enough to remain in the club?
A club like that is not one that any decent person, especially a Jewish one, should be desperate to be a member of.  FIFA benefits by having the Israelis there and perhaps there was pressure on the Arabs to end their expulsion efforts because of that.

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