A Messi Divorce

June 9 was supposed to be the date of the gala soccer match in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium between the Israeli soccer team and the renowned Argentinian team led by striker Lionel Messi. Tickets were sold out in anticipation of the pre-World Cup match.

Instead, we got only a very Messi divorce and a BDS victory for Jibril Rajoub of the Palestine soccer team.

The Argentines surrendered to the threats of terror from the Palestinians. Messi T-shirts and banners were gathered in piles waiting to be burned if the players from Buenos Aires showed up in Jerusalem.

Good sportsmanship, like good will, is something alien to the Palestinian mind. While they do not excel in sports, they regrettably do excel in terrorism and murder.

The Argentinian team was threatened by Jibril Rajoub and fearing for their safety, they surrendered to terrorism.

The problem could have been avoided if Sports Minister Miri Regev had kept the original location for the match in Haifa. The Palestinians would not have threatened harm to the Argentinian players nor to Messi and his family. The cause celebre was Regev’s change of stadium from Haifa to Jerusalem.

If our ministers  keep their good senses, the 2019 Eurovision can still take place in Israel but not necessarily in Jerusalem. We need not be deprived of our sport and cultural activities solely because of the perfect place. We can accommodate culture anywhere in our country without yielding to the blackmail of unhappy Arab terrorists.

The tragedy of Munchen did not take place in Berlin. Lives could have been spared with sufficient protection and in Israel they will be..

Events like these in England or America do not necessarily require a location in London or Washington. Likewise, Jerusalem our beautiful capital need not be our country’s  only national host when other venues are available.

Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Joint Arab List in our Knesset, went online with his sarcastic humor suggesting that Israel’s soccer team could play instead against the team from Mynamar (Burma).

Does such a team even exist?

The Palestinian team obviously refuses to play against the Israeli team for fear of another loss to the Israelis.

Sporting events, like art shows and musical festivals, should be free of political mania. They are cultural events based upon the rules of the game and not the rules of terrorists.

Messi wanted to avoid a messy situation.  Prime Minister Netanyahu appealed to President Macri to resolve the unhappy problem but the Argentinian president insisted that there was nothing he could do.

Israeli soccer fans, of course, are very disappointed. They had been eagerly awaiting the June 9th event . But Teddy Stadium in the Malha section of West Jerusalem will remain empty on that day.

The boycott and divestment dogs have bared their teeth and the Argentinians have fear of being bitten.

It is a great pity that political hatred and fear of being attacked by rabid terrorists could cancel a dream.

The Argentinian team will head for Spain and Russia while the Israeli team, lonely and disappointed, remains at home.

The Palestinian team should be blacklisted and condemned by the International Soccer Federation but they too want to avoid repercussions from threats of more terror.

The Gazans no doubt would have arranged for their bomb-bearing kites and balloons to fly over Teddy Stadium, spraying the field with petrol and igniting a destructive fire.

Messi and his players felt it is better to be safe than sorry. The Argentinian team will play elsewhere and will no doubt be the World Cup winners, while Israeli ticket-holders will attempt to get reimbursed for the money they paid for  the tickets.

If I had bought a ticket, I would not return it. Rather I would keep it in a frame with markings indicating a BDS victory over us… an historical piece of hate to be remembered and shared.

Possibly, one day in the not too distant future, Lionel Messi will visit us. He may not receive a hero’s welcome for his Messi divorce, but hopefully a welcome for a friend.

Play ball. Let the game begin !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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