All politics are local, or so the adage goes. At today’s World Cup, it was Latin America vs. Europe: Costa Rica vs. Serbia, Mexico vs. Germany, and Brazil vs. Switzerland. In this context, it would be an apparent no-brainer for the Zionist to root for the Latin American teams over their European foes. After all, the Europeans have a thousand years of anti-Semitism to explain away. Or not.
Rooting for a straight ticket of Latin America today was not so simple for me, personally. During Mussaf on Shabbos, I was confronted with my negative appraisal of Costa Rica in our pre-World Cup analysis video. Costa Rica, after all, voted for the partition of Palestine in 1947 and maintained its embassy in Jerusalem until 2006. Further, one can probably find a minyan for mincha there, as well. Plus, Costa Rica is a functioning democracy and does not have a standing army. All good things, certainly.
On the other hand, as a loyal American soccer fan, I am painfully aware that these otherwise seemingly enlightened human beings have the nasty habit of throwing plastic bags of urine and other less desirable bio-hazard materials at US players when hosting matches on their native soil. Former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias was not overly pro-Israel and was responsible for moving the embassy from Jerusalem.
On the other hand, while most Serbian Jews perished in the Shoah, the Serbs led a vigorous resistance to Nazi occupation. Many Jews were sheltered and saved by the partisans during the war, and Serbian-Israeli relations are decent. As such, I found myself pulling for the Serbs during today’s match, all politics being local, you know.
If you still need guidance for who to root for in tomorrow’s line-up of Sweden vs. South Korea, Belgium vs. Panama, and Tunisia vs. England, please see the video preview: