The Zionist’s Guide To The World Cup—Day 16

And then there were sixteen….

Given the American obsession with ranking things, we will now take opportunity with this open date to rank the remaining teams left in the World Cup, from worst to least objectionable. Here goes:

16) Sweden. There is a little debate between Sweden and Switzerland as to who is the worst. Both have been silent witnesses to the shedding of Jewish blood, both in the past and in the present day.  Given unfortunate combination of current Swedish foreign policy and the ongoing threats to the physical safety of the Swedish Jewish community, Sweden gets the nod for being the worst.

15) Switzerland.  The Swiss have done their level best in recent years to champion rapprochement and cordial relations with Iran. Plus, they are snooty and shelter most of the world’s ill-gotten gains. They are a good soccer team, but the joke is on them with their two starting central defenders on the bench for yellow card accumulation.

14) Belgium. Arguably, other countries deserve to be lower than Belgium based on history and Jewish community. However, Belgium has been one of the leaders of anti-Israel activity within the EU. Plus, the Belgium’s government’s inability to confront Islamist extremism in its domain has led directly to terrorism in France. Bad Flems.

13) Portugal. Portugal has a bad historical record and, like Belgium, has been a member of the anti-Israel bloc of the EU. In doing so, it distinguishes itself just slightly from Spain for the 13th place ranking.

12) Spain. In recent years, Spain has been slightly more enlightened with regards to Israel and its problematic history of Jewish matters than neighboring Portugal.  Slightly.

11) Russia. Russia comes in for a more favorable rating than might otherwise be expected, given the Czars, the cossacks, the commissars, etc., etc.  This ranking, though, is based entirely on the transient situation where it is in the Kremlin’s interests to curtail or entirely stifle Iranian activity in Iran. If Russian soccer victories encourage this inclination in any appreciable way, then this ranking could be even higher.

10) Denmark.  The actions of the Danes in World War II leave a soft spot, even if the current government has not been particularly warm or empathetic to the Jewish state. The effort to ban bris millah does not help their ranking.

9) France. Like England, France is one of those countries who can have widely variable rankings in The Zionist’s Guide To The World Cup. In 2014, the French government took  a more demanding line in negotiations with Iran than the USA did. In 2018, though, the French Jewish community is under threat with an establishment seemingly unwilling to admit the extent of Islamist anti-Semitism. Emanuel Macron notwithstanding.

8) Croatia. Visions of Franjo Tudjman dance in my head, not to mention fascist salutes from the team’s checkerboard-clad fans. Their foreign policy is favorable, but the weight of the past drives down their ranking.

7) Uruguay. Uruguay probably got a little bum rap in the ZGWC video. They have a Jewish community; it is a functioning democracy; and they have a happy flag.

6) England. The schizoid nature of Anglo-Jewish relations is at the current instant slightly more favorable than not.  That this is sufficient to earn the Limeys a 6th place ranking says more about how much the world hates Israel and the Jews than it speaks to the enduring philo-Semitism of English society.

5) Brazil. Somebody’s got to be in 5th Place. Besides, Operation Car Wash has been entertaining.

4) Mexico.  If the upcoming election puts the left in power, and the Mexican left adopts an anti-Israel posture, I will regret this high ranking.

3) Argentina. The Argentines still deserve credit for the aborted friendly controversy.  Apparently, Argentina is one of the most popular national side amongst Israeli football fans. Perhaps because this Argentine team is so neurotic and self-conflicted that they could pass as Jewish. The color scheme works, at any rate.

2) Japan.  Just keep repeating to oneself: “Sugihara, Sugihara, Sugihara….” Plus, they have the best national anthem.  It almost makes me forget about Guadalcanal.

1) Colombia.  Their air force flies Kfirs, after all. The citizenry recently rejected an ill-conceived peace plan with the FARC. What’s not to like? Say a mishaberach for James Rodriguez’s hamstring.

A guten Shabbos.

About the Author
Doug Klein is an attorney in Chicago and the wrestling coach at Ida Crown Jewish Academy.
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