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Zionist’s Guide to the World Cup–Day 24

No one said the task of the Zionist’s Guide to the World Cup (ZGWC) would be easy.

For the second consecutive World Cup, Croatia has made it deep into the tournament.  Likewise, for the second consecutive World Cup, the ZGWC has been confronted with the problem of what to do with Croatia.  As the reader (or possibly readers) of this blog are aware, the ZGWC has wrestled with the gulf between the legacy of Croatian fascism and complicity with the Shoah and the current state of relations between Croatia and the State of Israel.  The ZGWC made a big deal, for instance, about Croatia’s UN General Assembly vote against the recent Nakba commemoration resolution.  At the same time, though, the ZGWC ignored the recent (September 2022) episode of Dinamo Zagreb fans’ display of Nazi salutes and fascist chants while marching on their way to Milan’s San Siro stadium for a UEFA Champions League tie with A.C. Milan.  In the not-too-distant past, Croatian fans have behaved similarly during matches between Croatia and the Israeli national team.

Based on this smattering of evidence, it would seem that there exists a divide in the Croatian corpus.  The head–in this instance the Croatian government–understands and sympathizes with the State of Israel and is a consistent support of Israeli interests.  The heart, though, as exemplified by innumerable Croatian football fans, remains enraptured with the fascist symbolism of the 1930s and 1940s.  Moreover, there are less than four million Croatians, so the descriptive term “innumerable” is particularly unsettling.

The ZGWC will respond to this Croatian dichotomy with a dichotomy of its own.  It will support Croatia so long as it can stay focused on the sober policy prerogatives of its government.  However, the ZGWC’s support for the so-called ” Kockasti” (“Checkered Ones”) will decrease in direct proportion to how many times the camera pans over to its supporters in the stands.  Call this the kishkes factor, if you will.

Having thoroughly dithered on Croatia, the ZGWC will now proceed to similarly dither on Argentina.  Unlike the people of Croatia, the people of Argentina have no particularly notable history of anti-Semitism.  The great Leonel Messi has made several high profile trips to compete in Israel.  While this may not seem like much, over the years there have been a number of prominent soccer players who have managed to avoid ever traveling to Israel.  So, credit where credit is due.  Many Jews call Argentina home, and they are fervent supporters of La Albiceleste.  And let’s not forget the great Jose Pekerman (a legendary coach of Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela) and Juan Pablo Sorin (left back and captain of the 2006 World Cup squad) among other legends of Argentine Jewish heritage.

Following along the lines of the foregoing, the kishkes factor would appear to dictate cheering for Argentina.

Appearances can be deceptive, though.  While we are remembering the likes of Pekerman and Sorin, we should also remember Adolf Eichmann  (yemach sh’mo), Eric Priebke (yemach sh’mo), and Josef Mengele (yemach sh’mo) among many other Nazis who fled to safe haven in Argentina after World War II.  Speaking of which, the ZGWC can also include Croatia’s fascist leader Ante Pavelic (yemach sh’mo) who also fled to Argentina at the same time.  Of more recent import, we cannot forget the murder of Alberto Nisman, a”h, just hours before he was to present evidence of former Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s complicity in obstructing the investigation of and covering up Iranian and Hezbollah connections to the 1985 AMIA bombing.  If Fernandez de Kirchner was currently in jail or under indictment for her crimes, then perhaps the ZGWC would take a more kindly view to Argentina in the match against Croatia.  Unfortunately, Fernandez de Kirchner is the current Vice-President of Argentina.

Accordingly, the ZGWC will follow its head and root against Argentina.

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