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Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
For years, Netanyahu-led governments have been putting out fires with a garden hose
Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
Photo: Vardi Kahana
Tami Arad
Photo: Vardi Kahana

Is Israel finally taking the world's shifting attitude to heart?

Op-ed: The way Netanyahu managed the FIFA affair shows he realized how close we had come to playing soccer against ourselves, and that is just the beginning.

Until the latest crisis over the Palestinians desire to remove Israeli soccer from the FIFA grass, the feeling was that the official State of Israel wasn't taking the world's cooling attitude towards it to heart.

  

 

The right's spokespersons used to explain that the protests and boycotts were background noises by anti-Semitic groups, which did not reflect the attitude of the world countries towards the State of Israel. The message they conveyed was something like "we are working on a software system that will teach the world how the chosen people should be treated."

 

Last week, it seemed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu realized that there may be a need to develop a new software system. The Iranian threat is not alone and threats like a cultural, economic or academic boycott may inflict heavy damages not only on Israelis travelling abroad, but also on issues at the heart of the State of Israel.

 

The prime minister, who began his political career at the United Nations as the national PR agent, was supposed to see a well-oiled PR system as a strategic asset. Nonetheless, the Israeli governments led by him have been carrying on for years like a fire truck putting out fires with a garden hose.

 

Pro-Palestinian supporters in Zurich, last week. The PR war waged by the PA and BDS is no longer limited to a game in the neighborhood soccer field (Photo: EPA)
Pro-Palestinian supporters in Zurich, last week. The PR war waged by the PA and BDS is no longer limited to a game in the neighborhood soccer field (Photo: EPA)

 

The ministers' praise for Netanyahu over the way he handled the FIFA crisis – as if it were his finger in the dike which prevented our homes from being flooded – is exaggerated, but understandable in the political context. Netanyahu has already promised to run in the next elections and win 40 Knesset seats, and experience shows that we should believe him. The way he managed the affair clarifies that he realized how close we had come to playing soccer with ourselves, and this – as the song goes – is just the beginning.

 

The fact that we scored a goal against the Palestinians at the end of the day does not point to an Israeli victory, but to a local success in one of the holding-defense battles the Israeli government has finally started waging.

 

This is also how we should see the debut performance of Israeli Football Association Chairman Ofer Eini, whose appearance was as good as the "Golden Boy" in the Eurovision, apart from the backup band which remained in Israel. But any intelligent person was able to detect the sizzling fumes of discomfort beyond the screen.

 

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. Humility will not solve our troubles, but arrogance could make them worse (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem) (Photo: Mark Israel Salem)
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. Humility will not solve our troubles, but arrogance could make them worse (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem)

 

The feeling that our status is being undermined no longer belongs to the hysterical left. The government's ministers seem to have realized too that the PR war waged by the Palestinian Authority and organizations like BDS is no longer limited to a game in the neighborhood soccer field. Apart from Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who wrote on his Facebook page that "it's time to jail Jibril Rajoub in the Mukataa and let him play soccer with his friends." Even if we omit the condescending joke from his post, we will not reach the anticipated solution, because even Katz knows that the character is not the problem.

 

And as for the actual statement, it's disrespectful to us and to himself when an Israeli minister comments like a talkbacker. Moreover, whoever disregards his enemies may find himself losing the war. This lesson was personally experienced by quite a few fighters and commanders in the IDF.

 

During the broadcast from Zurich last Friday, I imagined my grandparents and parents on November 29, 1947 listening to the UN vote with bated breath through the only radio in their Jerusalem neighborhood. At the time, the small Jewish Yishuv was fighting for its life and residence in the Land of Israel, and its attitude towards the enemy was respect combined with suspicion. Since winning the Six-Day War we have lost our humility, and even the traumatic Yom Kippur War failed to restore it.

 

Humility will not solve our troubles, but arrogance could make them worse. And in favor of the war on demonization, it would be better if the transportation minister sticks to posts about trains and roads.

 


פרסום ראשון: 06.03.15, 10:19
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