Armchair Prime Minister

The Olympics are coming. The games elicit many different reactions from people, but one almost universal phenomenon is “Armchair Quaterback Syndrome.” While the name might apply most specifically to American Football, it really manifests itself in every sport.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term ‘armchair quarterback,’ the syndrome is usually exhibited by die-hard fans of one specific team or another. The symptoms typically include loud swearing at the TV screen, berating the other team, and yelling “WE WON! WE WON!” when the specific team being cheered for has won. And, oh yes, it usually involves sitting on the sofa, or in an armchair, and possibly drinking beer.

Armchair quarterbacks also give advice to their teams. They tell them which plays to run. They yell at them when things go wrong. They berate the referrees for bad calls. In general, they believe their wisdom exceeds that of the people on the ground. The coach is an idiot. The running back is an idiot. My grandmother can catch better than the wide receiver. And on, and on, and on.

The thing is that armchair quarterbacks – through all their yelling at the screen – care deeply for their team. They delight in their victories, and take their failures very personally. They are frustrated often that their advice goes unheard, that the coaches and players can not hear them through the TV screen.

If you’ve gotten this far, then you probably know where I’m going with this. Jews living in the diaspora are the Israel’s armchair quarterbacks. They show up on my Facebook feed decrying this law or that. They criticize how Israel handles the settlements. They know better! They will make a change! They know who should serve in the IDF and who should not. They know how to handle situations like Beit Shemesh, or what the real price of cottage cheese should be. After all, they sit on their temple’s board in Fair Lawn/Teaneck/Los Angeles/Miami/Washington DC/Brooklyn; they know how to mediate conflict.

I am not here to voice my personal opinions on Israeli politics and current events. But I, unlike my friends sitting on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, have the right to. They do not. If you wish to make a change, then come here and make a change. Israel is a democracy, and a rather open one at that. Getting ‘Likes’ on Facebook or +1s on Google+ accomplishes nothing but making you feel good about yourself.

You love Israel. I know you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t talk about it constantly. But do not post from your sofa, drinking your Bud Light and think you have the right to an opinion on this place you choose not to live in. And it is a choice. You can file your paperwork and within 6 weeks be a citizen of this beautiful country. You choose not to. And so you are not entitled to your opinion.

I look forward to being an armchair quarterback with you, here on this side of the Mediterranean.

Let the games begin.

About the Author
Michael Acobas made aliyah in July, 2011, and lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and son.