Monday, January 31, 2011

Pro-Israel Blog-off Results

Despite a surprising advantage from the fans, the judges were unfortunately not that impressed with my entry (73 rating out of 100).

Oh well, 'twas a fun ride and good exposure for this lil blog!

Congrats to the deserving winner, Elder of Ziyon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Pro-Israel Blog-off begins - Round 1

A few weeks ago, I entered my Zionist Football article in a pro-Israel blog competition.

The competition starts today at Israellycool and I'm up against some great blogs in the 1st round. I will be up against Elder of Ziyon and Liberty's Spirit.

Check out the entries, decide who's best, and vote here.

The winner (by fan voting & a panel of 4 judges) will win an iPad, which I wouldn't mind winning ... so if you like my entry, help me out! ;)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Help Them See

Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt"l was speaking to a group about judging people to the good. He was asked how to deal with people who seem so negative and evil. He replied: "Imagine you were at a corner ready to cross at a light. All of the sudden from behind someone shoves you into the street. You fall and get up scratched and dirty; you turn, ready to give the person who shoved you some of the angriest words you know. When you turn around, ready to pounce, you see that the person behind you is wearing dark glasses and holding a white cane. How do you feel now? Instantly you calm down, and your anger dissipates. He couldn't help it. he was blind."

"That", Rabbi Weinberg said is how we deal with people who appear to us to be evil and mean. "The person is blind. S/he doesn't wake up in the morning and decide to hurt people that day. The person literally doesn't know what they are doing. They are blind". "The next time your parent, in-law, coworker etc. does something to make you crazy, picture them wearing dark glasses and holding a white cane. They are blind. They can't see that they are doing wrong. Help them, guide them, and show them gently the error of their ways. But don't expect them to change. A blind person can't see overnight. It takes time, and sometimes they will never see."

Take from Gossip : Ten Pathways to Eliminate It from Your Life and Transform Your Soul by Lori Palatnik & Bob Burg.

Monday, January 17, 2011


A man once complained bitterly to R' Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev that his business was failing. He was completely absorbed with this and could not think of anything else. His life had come to a standstill.

R' Levi Yitzchok said, 'You cannot think of anything else? Come, let us go to the mikveh." The man assumed that R' Levi Yitzchok intended to enhance his prayers for him by purifying himself in the mikveh. Once they were in the mikveh, R' Levi Yitzchok submerged the man's head underwater, and the man struggled to break free. R' Levi Yitzchok then said, "What was in your mind when I held your head under water?" "I wanted to breathe," the man said. "Were you thinking about your business?" "No," the man said, "I just wanted to be able to breathe."

"Then there is something more important to you than your business, isn't there? You should think of all the other things that are actually more important than your business and direct proper attention to them. Then you will act more constructively, and a more positive attitude will help you in your business as well."

Taken from 'The Enemy Within' by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Zionist Football

My latest article in Kaminando y Avlando, the Sephardi Hebrew Congregation of Cape Town's monthly publication:


Israel, like many other countries in the world, is football (soccer) mad. Football’s the national sport and the country takes tremendous interest in games and leagues both domestic and international. Every Saturday or Sunday afternoon, thousands of Israelis can be found at the country’s various stadia cheering on their teams.

Although the Israeli league is considered to be rather weak, there is normally a yearly representative in the Champions League or the Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA cup). In the last ten years, Israel has seen Maccabi Haifa defeat Manchester United, Hapoel Tel Aviv defeat AC Milan and Maccabi Tel Aviv defeat Ajax in these competitions. These results, and the participation in these prestigious tournaments, are a source of great pride for Israelis.

The same feelings are often replicated when one of our own plays in one of the big European leagues. From past greats like Haim Revivo (Celta Vigo), Avi Nimni (Atletico Madrid), Tal Banin (Brescia) and Eyal Berkovic (Manchester City & Celtic) to today’s heroes like Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool & Chelsea), Tal Ben Haim (Chelsea & West Ham), Ben Sahar (Chelsea & Espanyol) and Gai Assulin (Barcelona & Manchester City), Israelis love to see their own succeed and represent Israel abroad.

The aforementioned individual and club successes have unfortunately yet to translate into any national team success. Having not been at any major tournament since the 1970 World Cup, most fans funnily enough still believe that the national team will qualify for the next Euro or the World Cup. (Until we actually do, we’ll have to be grateful for seeing our flag waved around as it was by then Hapoel Tel Aviv defender, Ghana’s John Pantsil – picture below).

It seems that most of us fans have internalized David Ben Gurion’s famous quote, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles!” With football being such a passion for most Israelis, many of the youth dream of being the next Yossi Benayoun or Tal Ben Haim. However, not every kid follows through with these ‘dreams,’ be it due to ability, injuries or … Zionism.

Last year, I joined FC Jaffa, a team in the newly created Anglo Olim League. The 7-team league required all teams to field Anglo Olim, while also allowing two Israeli born players per squad. One of the Israeli players on our team was a 25 year old by the name of Rani Madmon. On the first ride from Jerusalem to our home pitch in Ramat Aviv, Rani and I struck up a conversation about how we played the game while growing up. Rani grew up in the youth system of Beitar Yerushalyaim, one of Israel’s top teams. Ever present in their youth squads from a young age, Rani started talking about all the players he’d grown up with - household names for anyone like me who’s followed Beitar the past few years.

As we discussed the subject more, I asked him why he wasn’t out there at Teddy (Beitar’s Stadium) every second weekend. “I turned down the contract they offered me when I was 18,” he explained. You work your whole life to accomplish a lifelong dream, and when you’re on the cusp of achieving it, you turn it down? “I wanted to defend my family, my friends, my country,” He explained. “I couldn’t stand by as Jerusalem was exploding and do nothing, “ he continued, “Serving in the army was more important than football.”

I was shocked.

You see, even though I feel I am a passionate Zionist, I don’t really know if I could have made that decision if I were in his boots. Rani served 4 years in the army, becoming an officer in combat engineering. He still does miluim (reserve duty) every year and has little regrets about his decision.

Rani is but one story like this. Many of Israel’s talented 18-year-old footballers (not to mention musicians, scientists etc) put their careers on hold, sometimes permanently, in order to join the army and contribute to the defense of Israel. This, and a poor football infrastructure, has continually dented the development of football in our country. However, it’s precisely this dedication and love of Israel, which I think is still prevalent among Israel’s youth, that ensures Israel will overcome the internal and external obstacles in its path.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Hamas's Honesty

Two months ago, Hamas admitted that the Israeli strike on the 1st day of the Gaza War eliminated 250 of their fighters - a fact even Richard Goldstone refused to acknowledge.

This month, another dose of Hamas honesty has shown the rife dishonesty within NGOs when reporting about Israel. Many NGOs reported the civilian death count at 75%+ of the 1,100+ Palestinian deaths. Naturally, by the time Israel released her numbers (Sadly, 39% of the dead were civilians, with the remaining 709 Palestinians being militants), the world had already slammed Israel for this 'Jenin' like massacre.

The truth?

In a November 2010 interview given by Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad to the Al-Hayat newspaper, Hamas acknowledged that 600-700 Hamas members were killed in the Gaza fighting – more than double the number of combatants published by the NGOs’ and Richard Goldstone’s unreliable version of events.

In the already linked article, Anne Herzberg made some important points:

In particular, NGOs and Goldstone used their unsupported casualty claims as the sole basis for charges of “disproportionate” or “indiscriminate” Israeli attacks against Gaza civilians, even though under international law, the number of casualties is not a dispositive factor in determining whether war crimes were committed.

Each NGO conveyed its version of events. B’Tselem alleged that 75% of those killed were civilians. PCHR originally claimed 70% and later increased to 85%, and DCI-PS alleged that Israel killed 352 “children” (PCHR claimed 313).

The damage has already been done. It is essential however that we learn and internalize (yet again) the lesson that our country will always be attacked - from within and without - with falsehoods. We do make our mistakes, and when we do, we need to acknowledge and learn from them. However, before we do so, let's make sure the truth hasn't been swept under the rug in order to allow more disgraceful and hateful attacks on Israel.