By Raffe Gold
If you had asked me a week ago if I would be writing a blog post about the Olympics, I would have laughed in your face. I have about as much love for sports as Jesus had for Judas as he was dragging the cross through Jerusalem. That is why my first instinct when asked if I wanted to write a post about the Olympics and Israel’s attendance was to turn it down. Yet after some quiet contemplation, I rescinded my refusal and realized that I had a perfect angle. I would not be examining the world of sports however, as an Oleh Chadash this would be my first Olympics as an Israeli citizen. ‘Imagine’, I thought, ‘cheering on the Israelis in their blue and white and hoping that our tally will increase from the 7 medals we have already won over the years to 8 (or 9, or 10)’. As a dual Australian-Israeli citizen I’ll also have to come to terms with who I will end up supporting should my two countries go head-to-head but that is a bridge we will cross when we come to it (though it will most likely be Israel).
So how will I be supporting Team Israel when they march down the Olympic Park in London? Will I be standing in Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv with an Israeli flag draped around my shoulders, drink in hand, shouting like a maniac as the camera pans over the faces of my new countrymen? Or perhaps I’ll be watching the opening ceremony with my friends in Jerusalem and, as the bands start to play, I’ll think about the motto for the 2012 Olympic Games: ‘Inspire a Generation’.
It’s an apt motto for my situation. These games are helping inspire me. They inspire me to realize that I did not choose to be an Australian, it was a choice that my parents made for me, but I wanted to be an Israeli. I do not regret being born in Australia but I, like many Zionists before me, felt the urge to come to Israel. I chose to follow my heart and to come to this crazy sliver of land in the Middle East. I chose to leave my parents, family, and friends in order to seek out a life that I felt would be more fulfilling. To move to Israel is a choice that many have to think long and hard about as, has been covered ad nauseam, this is far from an easy place to live.
Yet whilst we may have to work a little harder to get by, here they are, these moments of national unity, when we rally behind our soldiers heading into battle or when we send out sportsmen off to foreign lands to compete for shiny medals, that we as Israelis stand together as one. As a newly minted Israeli, I will feel proud watching my team compete. I will scream expletives at referees for penalizing my compatriots despite having no understanding of how the game is played (yet screaming that the ref doesn’t either) and I will weep with pride as I sing HaTikva should any Israelis win a medal. This is how I will be spending the 2012 Olympic Games. My first of many as an Israeli citizen.
About Raffe Gold
Zionist, Jew, Australian accented Israeli, Mac Fanatic, Politics Junkie, Blogger, Occasional Op-Ed Columnist, Ultimate Geek Casanova and Lover of Pie!
Follow Raffe on Twitter here: @raffeg