Return to Israel, Sports in the Holy Land

Jul 29, 2014 | The Pulpit

Over the past month or so, due to the World Cup and the subsequent war with the terrorist Hamas, I have been having mixed emotions and conflict as to where I stand in supporting other football National Teams other than Israel as they missed yet another tournament.

I am proud of my Canada, my country of birth and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s unwavering support of Israel. I also want to make it clear that as a naturalized American citizen, married to an American and with 2 of my 3 boys born in NY I am most grateful to the United States for all it has done for me, my family & of course for the State of Israel.

Canada’s National Hockey team is easy to root for. And the USA Football National Team whom I followed to exotic places such as Barbados and the less exotic RFK stadium has always been fun.

But still I had a very hard time rooting for the USMNT during this past World Cup. I don’t know if it’s because I have not lived in America for 10 years or that I am in the homeland of the Jewish People, Israel or if it’s a combination of both.

Yes, I have resided in the Promised Land for a decade and boy did it go by quickly. My children have grown up here; they have gone to school here and they are part of the Israeli fabric as I have become as well.

We, the Jewish People have only one country that is ours, Israel. We have culture, stock exchanges, hi-tech not to mention sports. From Euroleague champions Maccabi Tel Aviv, to the Israel Basketball Superleague to the Israel Football Association national teams and Ligat Ha’Al, Israel has a fine collection of sports to choose from.

We can all agree that the football league is not the best and not even close to being in the top 10 leagues across Europe and that the National team still can’t find it’s way to a major tournament in over 40 years, but it’s our league, and our national team. It’s ours, the Jewish people’s not just the Jews of Israel, but the Jews worldwide.

For Israelis, it’s HaLiga Shelanu, or in English “our league”. It’s what we have and it’s what we support through thick or thin. From Maccabi Haifa to Hapoel Beer Sheva, we do have something to offer our brothers and sisters all around the world. To Israelis playing abroad to those at home, we have who to support.

And yes, I truly believe that.

As we have seen over the past few weeks when the Jewish people around the globe rallied around the families of the then kidnapped and now found murdered three young boys by terrorists, we all must understand that they were killed for a simple reason. Because they were Jews and Jews living in the Holy Land of Israel.
Hamas and its indiscriminate missile attacks on Israel since 2005 are because they are bent on the destruction of the Jews and the Jewish State. They have one goal; to see Israel suffer.
We celebrate life, they celebrate death.

Jews must remember that we are all one people connected and intertwined with Israel no matter what. We have no choice, it’s in our DNA. If we reside in New York, Montreal or Jerusalem, we must always know that Israel will be a safe haven for some and the anchor of the ingathering of the exiles for others. This is the true meaning of Zionism and returning to the land.

May we all pray for the safe return of our soldiers.

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