Dear Mr. Messi,
I want to address your recent decision to cancel your soccer match with Israel that was scheduled for this Saturday night.
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge soccer (or should I call it futbol?) fan. Sure, you can call me one of those Americans who “just doesn’t get it. I don’t follow any league and I wouldn’t call myself a fan of any particular team. However, I am an Israeli and I do live in Jerusalem; and I do know that you just unintentionally let hate prevail by cancelling this match.
Did you know that your scheduled match was one of the most exciting sporting event to ever take place in Israel? Tickets sold out in literally seconds. I’m pretty sure you outdid Justin Bieber, Kanye West, even The Rolling Stones.
The luckiest kids in Israel were the ones whose parents scored tickets to the game of their dreams. Finally they would get to see the greatest soccer player in the world (no disrespect to Christiano Ronaldo) right here in their own country. They idolize you, walking the streets with your name on their back. Staying up late to watch you play on TV.
And you just taught them that hate can win.
With all do respect, you might be the greatest soccer player of all time, but you are simply that. Your job has nothing to do with geo-politics – and certainly not those of the complicated Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cancelling your match will not bring peace. It will not stop terrorist organizations, the same ones that sent you death threats, from continuing to threaten Israel’s existence. It will not cause Israel to dismantle its security fence on the green line.
What is has done is crush thousands of Israeli children’s’ dreams. It has told them that, for some reason they don’t really understand, the world hates them. These kids have never harmed anyone. All they’ve done is argue over who gets to be Messi when they play a game of soccer in the school yard.
To be clear, I’m not here to belittle the fact that you and your fellow players did receive death threats. However, I hope you realize that these children you’ve just disappointed receive death threats every single day while Hamas in Gaza chants for the destruction of Israel and murder of Israelis. These kids live in fear everyday that a rocket will be launched into their school or their house. This will continue to happen.
What will also happen is the world will skew your decision to be a political statement against Israel. The same people who threatened you will threaten other celebrities such as yourself not to come to Israel because they will see that it works—and this cycle of hate will continue.