Apol­o­gise now

The Bri­tish pa­pers ma­ligned Is­rael be­fore last week’s match, says HaimBaram

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT&ANALYSIS -

ENG­LAND GOT a re­prieve last week, and the much-ma­ligned Is­rael bailed the English out of a cer­tain exit from Euro 2008. We don’t ex­pect you to thank us pro­fusely, it is not in your na­ture and we don’t re­ally need it. It will be ex­ag­ger­ated to claim that the Is­raeli play­ers fought for Eng­land. They sim­ply strove to re­store their sag­ging rep­u­ta­tion af­ter the dis­mal per­for­mance at Wem­b­ley against Eng­land.

A tremen­dous amount of scorn was heaped upon the mod­est Is­raeli foot­ball af­ter that rather pa­thetic game, and only a vic­tory against the un­duly ar­ro­gant Rus­sians could have lifted it. The youngest team in our his­tory was far more re­silient and ef­fi­cient than the es­tab­lished first team, and the Rus­sian guests failed to make an im­pres­sion.

As far as I am con­cerned, the filthy rich among the vis­i­tors have ex­ploited the col­lapse of the Soviet Union to ac­cu­mu­late a for­tune at the ex­pense of their fel­low cit­i­zens. Free-thinkers in our coun­try de­spise this, and the vic­tory over the Rus­sians was the epit­ome of this highly jus­ti­fied con­tempt.

Through­out the week prior to the game we had been abused by the Bri­tish me­dia, and some of the al­le­ga­tions were drawn straight from the old an­ti­semitic dic­tio­nary. We were de­picted as a coun­try of greedy Jews, anx­ious to please our Rus­sian-Jewish mas­ters and to be­tray Eng­land for nu­mer­ous pieces of sil­ver. This cheap rub­bish had spread from the pop­u­lar press and pen­e­trated (in a more sub­tle man­ner) even the so-called qual­ity news­pa­pers. As a life-long An­glophile, I have never been so ashamed of Eng­land.

The be­trayal con­spir­acy-the­ory has been lu­di­crous. To start with, we don’t owe you any­thing, and it is not our fault that you have a medi­ocre man­ager, hardly good enough even for Mid­dles­brough. Se­condly, you have failed dis­mally to un­der­stand the na­ture of our so­ci­ety. As a rad­i­cal non-Zion­ist, I share much of the crit­i­cism of the Is­raeli poli­cies vis-àvis the Pales­tini­ans, but some peo­ple in Eng­land have a shal­low view of Is­rael. You don’t un­der­stand the vi­brant char­ac­ter of our me­dia, the dis­tinc­tive Is­raeli iden­tity, the pride, the dire need to be­long to the out­side world, the demo­cratic self­im­age. It is im­pos­si­ble here to sur­ren­der a foot­ball game to Rus­sian oli­garchs, whether they em­ploy a lack­lus­tre man­ager like Grant or not. We won the game; it is as sim­ple and naïve as that. But you owe us a mas­sive apol­ogy. Haim Baram is a sports colum­nist for the Jerusalem-based Kol-Hair and for­mer foot­ball com­men­ta­tor for Is­raeli state TV

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.