Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Are We That Sleepy?

In a recent Haaretz article, Professor Robert (Yisrael) Aumann, the Israeli-American scholar who won the Nobel Prize for economics last year, talked about the possibility that Israel might not be around within 50 years. A few of his quotes (and my take on them) can be found below ...

"Too many Jews don't understand why they are here. If we don't understand why we are here, and that we are not America or just a place in which to live, we will not survive. The desire to live like all the nations will sustain us maybe another 50 years, if we are still here. Fatigue, in the State of Israel's situation, will lead to death, as occurs with mountain climbing. If a mountain climber is caught on the side of a mountain and it starts to snow, if he falls asleep, he will die. He must remain alert."

I would change Professor Aumann's sentence to "Too many Israelis don't understand why they are here." No, I'm not saying that all Israelis (by this, I mean those born in Israel) are like this, but it is definitely something that seems to infect too large of a segment within our population. What Aumann is saying here is that Israel, unlike other nations, has a different reason for existence. Israel was built on the ashes of 6,000,000 of our brethren, and has survived due to incredible heroism and sacrifice. Israel is the only homeland for the Jewish people. The failure to understand this, or the 'fatigue' he talks about, could eventually erode our ability to deal with the challenges we continually facing. So, the desire to be here, to continue our existence as a Jewish State, needs to be nurtured and strengthened so that it is as intense as it is amongst the religious Zionists, secular Zionists and the dominant majority of our new immigrants. This part of the battle to be here is, in my opinion, just as important as the actual fighting on the battlefield itself.

"We are too sensitive to our losses, and also to the losses of the other side. In the Yom Kippur War, 3,000 soldiers were killed. It sounds terrible, but that's small change."

During the war with Hezbollah, the days at the office were terrible. Every day, people at the office would be on the edge of their seats. We were worried about our friends, the deaths of our fellow countrymen, the damage being caused to our brothers up in the North and our inability to deal a crushing blow to Hezbollah. Every death hurt us inside, as if it was our friend that had been killed. We have become incredibly sensitive to the deaths of our fellow Israelis. Not to sound incredibly cruel or insensitive but this must never hinder our ability to fight. We are on the verge of some very serious conflicts with Syria, Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah - if we cannot accept that many of us won't be coming home from these battles, then we will not be able to succeed in our mission to defend this country properly. It's a tough reality, but this is the reality we need to face and accept in order to continue here. As Gaylord Nelson said, “The ultimate test of a man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dare to Realize!

Three days ago, my blog mentioned the remarkable 1-1 tie between the Israeli and French Under 21 teams. The result, which meant Israel only needed a 0-0 tie tonight to advance to the Championships in 2007, made tonight's return fixture the main attraction in Israel:

"An entire nation stands behind you in expectation; you have succeeded in uniting the country and bringing it pride. Together, the entire nation will be willing you on and we know that you are capable of completing the mission you have begun. Good luck."
Israel Football Association chairman, Itche Menahem

With 8,000 fans crammed into the Herzilya stadium, the Israelis defended like lions as the French went looking for a goal early on. Only a fantastic Tom Almadon save kept the scores level at half time. With the French pushing more and more men forward, Israel started carving out chance after chance. However, the French keeper managed to pull off save after save, denying Omer Peretz, Idan Srur, Toto Tammuz and Ben Sahr. However, a perfectly executed fast break by Israel on the left flank allowed Amir Taga, who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, to score the game winner in the 93rd minute. Our boys had done it. This Israeli U21 team had managed to write their name in our country's footy history books. The result not only booked our place in next year's Under 21 European Championships (only 8 teams made the Final), but also set themselves up with a chance to represent Israel in the 2008 Olympic football tournament in Beijing. What a great night for Israeli football and Israel in general, something to make us proud, to put a large smile on our faces. Our little country will be on all the major sporting newtorks next year (for all the right reasons) competing against the best Under 21 talent Europe has to offer for a chance to be called 'Europe's Best' ... Congrats ...

The Starting 11:

Amir Taga, the goal scoring hero, on top of Tom Almadon's shoulders:

Aviram Bruchian and Omer Peretz celebrate a historical night:

The celebrations continue between Omer Peretz and Lior Jean:

Ben Sahr, the 17 year old Chelsea striker, and Maor Melikson join in on the celebrations:

!!!אל אל ישראל

Monday, October 09, 2006

Testing the Time

I'm not sure what to make of it ... This was after all what was expected by the US, by China, by South Korea, by Japan, by the 'living in reality' world. North Korea made their intentions known, and they did what they wanted to do. The questions, which is what starts to scares me, now become - What does the world do? Does it do anything? What message will that send to Iran, who's going to be pulling off the same stunt in a year or two? Are we heading to that 'confrontation' that eluded the US and the USSR during the 'Cold War'?

Interesting times ahead ... I guess, everything for the better - so we'll just wait and see what happens ...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dare to Dream

It was way back in 1970, some 36 years ago, when Israel's national football team last participated in a major international competition (1970's World Cup in Mexico). But on the back of 3 very solid results (a 1-0 win against Estonia, a 4-1 thrashing of Andorra and yesterday's 1-1 tie with Russia), Israeli fans are yet again starting to dream of a place amongst Europe's elite in the European Championships in 2008. Despite a very poor 1st half performance, the half time whistle blew with Israel only down 1-0. Although there was only a slight improvement in the 2nd half, two of Israel's up & coming youngsters managed to carve something out of nothing late in the game to steal a share of the points. On an error by a Russian defender, Toto Tammuz (a 19 year old born to Nigerian illegal immigrants) managed to get a vicious shot on goal which the Russian goalkeeper managed to deflect. Amit Ben Shushan, a 21 year old striker with bucket loads of potential, was there to collect the rebound and put in his 2nd goal in 4 competitive matches for the national team. Ben Shushan's goal not only lifted Israel to the top of the group (tied with England on 7 points), but it also continued Israel's remarkable 3 year unbeaten streak in competitive matches. To cap off a marvelous night for our football teams, our U21 team managed to tie the French U21 team 1-1 in Paris despite playing with only 10 men for 65 minutes. This team is oozing with talent, confidence, speed, technique and a belief that they belong. Israel's footballing future hasn't looked so bright in a long time - El El Yisrael!