Soccer fans in Israel were so close to seeing Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano in the flesh, dribbling the ball at Teddy Stadium in a friendly soccer match. And then news came in that the game is not happening.
The Argentinian delegation is undoubtedly right. They are not supposed to risk themselves in light of dangerous conflicts that may erupt in Jerusalem. Sadly, Israel’s politicians made bad moves trying to politicize this event as well, and lost a perfectly good opportunity for a friendly and positive event to take place right here in Israel.
We could have easily turned hostility into friendship by simply keeping the game in Haifa, a city which symbolizes some degree of co-existence between Jews and Arabs. Moreover, we could have opened the tribunes equally to both sectors and gained the world’s appreciation.
So why didn’t it happen? Because unfortunately the ego blinds us once again. We couldn’t see that having the game in Haifa would clearly have a positive impact on Israel’s image, friendship between nations, while lowering hostility in the whole region.
Instead of playing political games for power and status, in this case we should have risen above our petty ego, acted more mature and made a concession, just as we do with our children for the sake of keeping peace in the family.
This is specifically the kind of example that Israel has to show the world, and is exactly the message that the nations of the world expect from us. We have to showcase the ability to go beyond the ego, which stirs strife between people and nations, and act towards human unity. In fact, it is the very foundation that brought the people of Israel together in the first place.
If we focus on how to leverage opportunities to turn animosity into greater unity, we will dissolve the vicious de-legitimization campaigns pushed by the BDS and similar parties, and gain appreciation from the international community.
The world wishes to see a mature, united and unifying Israel. When we play that way, everybody will win. Until then, it’s 1:0 for the world.