Pic: Yaki Assaig

10 degrees of hysteria

From Israeli soccer to Iran's nuclear threat


The day after we lost the soccer game to Croatia 4:3 I met the coach Dror Kashtan. He didn’t look the worse for the wear: Blue shirt, ironed, no five o'clock shadow of depression. “People are allowed to have off days,” he said to me regarding the game.


Kashtan’s got lots of experience and he’s proven himself. He doesn’t get excited about tomorrow’s headlines. His reaction should be carved into the entrance of the government complex in Jerusalem, on the decorative wall of the Knesset, on every guard post at the entrance to every military base. People have off days sometimes. They make mistakes, get confused, don’t perform up to their abilities. Anyone who doesn’t know this, doesn’t know good days either.



Sport sections in the newspapers actually surprised me. They all said that Kashtan’s strategy was wrong, that his starting lineup was weak, that you don’t play with a lone striker if you really want to win – but no one demanded he resign.


Worlds turned upside down as the prestigious editorial pages spew rage and panic proclaiming that everyone in the sports club needs to be sent home while sports sections on the other hand exhibited exemplary national responsibility.



I know at least three people who donate more to the state of Israel than Arcadi Gaydamak. His advantage is not the amount of his contributions but how we look in light of his funding.


Had the government provided the refugees camp at Nitzanim or relocated Sderot residents to Eilat for a respite from the qassam rocket attacks, there would be a commission of inquiry. Where did the money come from? Why wasn’t a public tender issued? How was this breach of the state budget approved? Who is the minister directly responsible?


The State Controller would be called in, the police would open an investigation, the attorney general would promise to look into it, and five NGOs would petition the High Court of Appeals. Gaydamak never told us we were poor, he is just showing us how stuck we are.



“Arcadi” what about my bonus?” (Gaydamak’s PR guy calls him immediately after he finds out that the prime minister slammed Gaydamak at the Cabinet meeting.)



Israel is considering not cooperating with the UN investigation into what happened in Beit Hanoun. So what? They are only going to take the Palestinian version into account anyway and we’ll whine that the world is against us.


I say receive them politely at the airport and take them to the south of the country. There’s a small hill on the outskirts of Sderot right after the street of the large houses. From there you can see all of Beit Hanoun spread out as if it was in the palm of your hand. So close that it gives one Goosebumps.


Everyday, tell them, qassam rockets are launched in this direction. Afterwards stand there, drink black coffee in slow gulps, and don’t move. It’ll take about a quarter hour for them to ask why they’re not moving. After a half-hour they’ll start to tremble and after a full hour, they’ll understand.



There’s a story told about Jack Welch, legendary CEO of General Electric. One of his young directors made a bad business decision and lost the company USD 15 million. He immediately submitted his letter of resignation. Welch read it and told the young man he would not accept it. “I just paid USD 15 million so that you would learn something,” Welsh said. “What good is my investment if you leave?”



IDF General Doron Almog is a saintly man and I mean this without a hint of sarcasm. He’s a man of the book and the sword, a man who carries within him a heart breaking personal tragedy. His brother Eran was killed in the Yom Kippur War and his son, also named Eran, is autistic.


I met him when I tried to help – as much as I could – in the establishment of ‘Aleh Negev’, a village dedicated to the care of brain damaged children. We would disagree from time to time but his moral authority was superior to mine so I always gave in.


The problem is that saintly people have their own lexicon. “IDF Brigadier General Gal Hirsch is like a son to me,” Almog said as he presented his findings on the war in southern Lebanon, which included a recommendation to remove the boy from his position. Everyone around Hirsch was shocked and surprised by Almog’s conclusions as the two had an okay relationship but what about this ‘son’ business all of a sudden?


“I don’t remember Almog attending any of our occasions,” I was told by someone close to Hirsch. “Interesting why now of all time, Gal has become his kid.” It’s silencing as well as interesting. Go argue with someone who is killing you with love.



Everyone wants a Churchill to come and save us; the father figure who knows everything, authoritative, someone in whose hands we can put our fate and then stop worrying. Few remember how Churchill actually started his career.


In May 1940 – less than two weeks after he was elected prime minister – Dunkirk falls. The British forces were surrounded and forced to retreat, 235 ships sink during the evacuation. Had that happened here, Churchill would have been sent packing in June.



Will Iran acquire a nuclear bomb? What exactly is the working premise here, that they immediately drop it on us? For what exactly? So that they can rejoice for the 20 seconds it will take to reduce Tehran to blood and dust? 14 million people live in Tehran. There are 45 universities and colleges; most of the Iranian industry is located there. They have an excellent cinema, interesting architecture. They say that until you’ve eaten Gundi meatballs with sweet rice you haven’t known pure pleasure.


So it may be true that Iran with a nuclear bomb in its hands is worrisome but panic is not what one should call policy.


פרסום ראשון: 11.28.06, 00:48
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