The counterpoint is jarring. As the European Union takes its first, halting step in imposing sanctions on Israel, thousands of so-called athletes from the Jewish diaspora have gathered in Jerusalem to uphold the rather odd proposition that Jewishness is a sporting attribute on a par with speed, strength, endurance and so on.
Evolution is normally a slow process; it’s seldom that we get to see the past and the future in such close and discordant proximity. Those of a more spiritual bent than I might even regard it as a revelation – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the ineluctable consequences of our actions and perhaps change direction before it’s too late.
In Jerusalem, we have the Maccabiah, a quadrennial gathering of Jewish sportspeople from around the world under the slogan “Sound Jewish Minds in Healthy Jewish Bodies.” (Surely I’m not the only one for whom that has creepy echoes of Berlin 1936?) Of course, the Maccabiah is only ostensibly about sport. What it is really about is aliya; a huge fiesta (organized by an even huger network of jobs for pals, nepotism and international junkets) designed to impress the pants off gullible diaspora Jews in the hope that some of them will decide to return as immigrants.
Sports may be important to the competitors (most of whom are weekend warriors without a hope of participating in any real sporting competition), but it means nothing to Israel. It’s not as if the Maccabiah is anybody’s stepping stone to a world championship or the Olympics. For Israel it’s all about the tourism income and the programs of tours and events, complete with IDF Solidarity Day during which participants get to meet, real live Israeli soldiers. Remember Golda’s inability to forgive the Arabs for forcing our boys to kill theirs? That remains the era of the Maccabiah.
In short, the Maccabiah is an anachronism, a throwback to the old Israel in which we reclaimed the land, drained the swamps, danced around campfires and blinked away the tears when we were compelled to take Arab lives. No-one in Israel believes that shit anymore, of course, not even the uber-Right. But it still seems to work with the products of diaspora Zionist education – or the Zionist establishment believes it does, at any rate.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, Washington and the major capitals of Europe, the future is beginning to take shape. It has been a long time coming –even now, most of the governments concerned are bending over backwards to downplay the significance of the new EU guidelines – and it is still very partial. But the rough strokes are clear. In the future, Israel – and every Israeli – will begin to pay for the extended bout of dementia that is the occupation. Trade and commerce will suffer, as will every activity that currently receives foreign funding. Academia will suffer, tourism will suffer and culture and the arts will suffer.
Israelis will not be able to travel without receiving special visas, we won’t host international sporting or cultural events and our representatives will be prevented from appearing outside the country – with the exception of Azerbaijan, of course. We won’t be able to buy the foreign goods we currently have access to and our startups will find their market access truncated. And, as state revenues drop, our taxes will go towards making up the shortfall. It’s going to take time, but the process is inexorable. The world is fed up with our mendacity and deceit.
World Jewry will still visit and we can look forward to another Maccabiah in four years’ time. But, as every Israeli knows, the Maccabiah is a non-event; a show for the diaspora dunces who still buy into the Zionist myth. We are going to begin hurting in ways that really hurt. And all for what? For an antediluvian and megalomaniacal colonial illusion that contributes nothing to Israel and the welfare of its people.
Successive Israeli governments have managed to buy off the populace for a long time with Zionist bread and circuses. But the wheat and sawdust have gone moldy. Payment time is at hand and we will soon realize the true price of both our occupational obsession and our apathy. It’s not going to be pleasant – but it will be belated justice.