Israel Still In World Cup Running

I’m not a big sports fan. Never have been. But I used to manage the girl’s soccer team at my high school. And thus I’ve always had an appreciation for soccer, regardless of whether I’ve followed the game or not, which, really, I haven’t. But soccer is huge here in Israel. Walking around town the night of a big soccer match, you can hear the entire city shouting in unison from their windows when their beloved teams score or miss a goal. It’s a beautiful thing, really, for a nation, so divided by politics and religion to have even this one thing to rally around.
And so, when I heard that Israel was going to play France in a World Cup preliminary last night, I made it my mission to find the best place possible to go and watch the game: A pub with a big screen TV. And holy hell, it was glorious.
France has a tradition of antisemitism. It’s a fact that can hardly be ignored. And that streak of antisemitism prevails unto this day, which made this game between Israel and France all the more important, because it gave the Jewish people an opportunity to prove something: That we are neither weak nor inferior. It was my hope that we’d pummel them actually — that we’d avenge ourselves after centuries of Jew-baiting and hating, especially after Fabien Barthez said he wouldn’t play here — but the game ended in a draw. And that’s okay too. Because to me, that proves that we are no better nor worse than France nor anyone else. We are, in fact, their equals. And that too, is a beautiful thing.
So I sat at Rani’s Pub in Nakhalat Shiv’a, tossing back Goldstars with my friends, listening to French Jews having an identity crisis, and watching the Israelis erupt at every turn. G-d, it was magnificent. The energy was so intense, you felt like you were a part of something just by watching TV, knowing that the entire nation was watching along with you.
Generally I’m put off by rank displays of nationalism. On Tisha Ba’av I was at Kikar Safra with some friends where Women In Green and Manhigut Yehudit had organized a megillah reading and a march around the Old City in solidarity with the settlement movement. The crowd waved Israeli flags all about and it made me so, so uncomfortable (knowing their beliefs and their false assertion of representing Israel) I left just after the megillah reading.
But last night? I’m looking on television at all these Israeli flags, people in the stands wearing white and blue, kids with “Yisrael” and magen davids painted on their faces, with the crowd all the while (on television and around me in the pub) chanting, “Ay, ay, Yisrael!” and I, too, swelled with pride. This wasn’t the rank, ethnocentric nationalism I felt at the Tisha Ba’av rally. Hell, Israel’s top scorers are Arabs! This was a true display of national pride and unity: One which transcended ethnicity, religious affiliation, class, and every other human border imaginable. It was a moment of pure light, and I loved every minute of it.
Highlight of the evening: When French center David Trezeguet headbutted Tal Ben Haim, I called out, “Awww man, that’s so underhanded! It’s like the Dreyfuss affair all over again!”
Awww…So wrong.
So, word yo, props to Team Yisrael on last night’s match. We’re now tied with France at the head of our qualifying group, which means we move on to the next round. May it be the will of Hashem that we go all the way, and get the opportuntiy to shine this light throughout the whole world.

16 thoughts on “Israel Still In World Cup Running

  1. We’re now tied with France at the head of our qualifying group, which means we move on to the next round.Prophecy, we hope. Only seven months to go.

  2. I too went to see the game at a local bar on abig screen. Wow, it was amazing games. Israel played awesome for the most part. At least 80% of the time they had control of the ball. They certainly did make some stupid mistakes like not shooting at the gaol when it was completely unblocked…grr. But thier score around the 80 something min. was gold. In the Bar at dc i was with a few friends didnt think there were many people there to israel vs france, but surprisingly ppl caem out. I even saw a guy wearing a Jewschool shirt. There was only one table the was clapping for France, the guys behind us suggest we jump them later. I loved! Go Israel!! I also wished we killed France that day, but i will settle for a tie over a loss anyday. The Israeli team i noticed at very polite too these headbutting French man. GO ISRAEL!! I would love to see israel back in Munich, Germany kicking some international ass. AM ISRAEL CHIA!!

  3. I watched the whole game on the spanish channel late last night. Fucking amazing. That crowd was hyped and while there are really no “moral victories” in sports, for a team like Israel to play a powerhouse like France (the 1998 World Cup Champs) to a tie was a sight to be seen. I was geekst! Eff them anti-semitic French bastids!

  4. I caught the play-by-play on the web. Never done that outside of baseball before. Pretty exciting second half.
    Loved the Dreyfuss reflex at Trezeguet’s red card infraction. The whole sports thing is great for indulging our impulses. But lest we forget that good Frenchmen did step up in defense of Dreyfuss and the republic, it is well that we remember the Dreyfussards in general and invoke the names of Emile Zola and Georges Clemenceau in particular.
    So, how does this World Cup competition work? I get that France and Israel are essentially tied for the lead in the European Group 4. Is there a “conference” for each continent? Are there the same amounts of groups in each “conference”? Does a team have to win their group outright to advance, or is there something like a wild card playoff structure?
    And when’s the next game (or match, or whatever)?

  5. Top team from each group in UEFA advances to Cup as do some number (4?) of second place teams. Remaining second place teams enter a new place-off. Israel is actually in second-place in their group (behind France) on goal difference. And the Swiss and Irish are only one point behind but have played one fewer game each. So Israel still has very far to go.

  6. Thanks, Last….
    So, the UEFA is a subset of the FIFA? This “Futbol” stuff makes the NFL look downright simple.

  7. I love the World Cup, sad more Americans don’t get in to it. Their loss….
    From the World Cup Website:
    The road to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germanyâ„¢ is a long and winding one. Thirty-two teams will manage to find their way to the end of the trail and grace the world’s biggest football stage, but many more will fall along the way. Explore each zone’s qualification format and figure out your side’s possible path to the finals.
    The hosts are guaranteed a place, and they will join 13 other teams from Europe. The African zone will send 5 representatives to Germany, while Asia and South America have been awarded 4.5 spots and the North and Central Americans and Caribbean Zone has 3.5 and Oceania 0.5.
    This link http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com/… has pdf files that detail the specific break down by region of how each country will qualify. Enjoy!

  8. I watched the game with a friend and colleague here in DC, at a soccer bar. The game was being shown at 6PM EST, obviously taped — but the bar was packed!
    An Israeli couple, a guy waering a Jewschool.com shirt, myself and my South African friend screaming. When the French scored, a table of four applauded. When Israel scored, about 20 people went nuts.
    Take that Frenchies!

  9. Mobius – Go to a soccer game in Eastern Europe (or parts of Western Europe for that matter) and you may come away with a different feeling about the “beautiful thing, really, for a nation, so divided … to have even this one thing to rally around.” Consider that many of the Serb militias during the Balkans wars were drawn straight from soccer clubs. Some didn’t even change their names – just grabbed guns. Shit, you live in Jerusalem! Go to a Betar game and then tell me about the beautiful togetherness. Soccer breeds some of the most racist violent behavior I’ve ever seen. That being said – I love a good game! Just caught Vasco v. Fluminense in Rio last week! (But I didn’t chant any racist shit).

  10. I see that you chose to leave out that two Arab men saved our asses in both games.
    In the knesset, there was more frustration this week in another ‘civil-service’ committe not being able to get the Arabs to participate (well none joined the committee)
    I hope that with Sahnin winning the soccer tournament and representing Israel in the secondary euro league, as well the two tremendous goals this week, that some ice will be chipped.

  11. “just about the only way you could make me read a whole article on the world cup”
    Yeah, sports are for girls.

  12. The ideas that John Brown expresses in his comment above are classic Orientalism.
    (Moby censored the criticism before ‘cuz he didn’t like the way it was expressed. Speaking of ethnically cleansing.)

  13. I watched the game from about 40 feet behind the net where france scored…
    trust me it was better than a bar…
    and when israel scored… i’ve never seen 40,000 happier jews

  14. Ok, so… oddly enough, I sat next to Leboff… we’re in Israel together. The experiance was amazing. I just strated visiting this site, but I’m a big fan. Ill be sure to continue visiting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.