It’s more important than life or death; it’s rugby

Those of you who rely on this modest column for your weekly (or so) dose of depression and suicide-inducing negativity, are going to have to find a temporary substitute, I’m afraid. Even a jaundiced misanthrope such as myself occasionally finds himself in situations which require that Israel-bashing take a back seat for a while.

Such an occasion is the Rugby World Cup, which began this morning. As I write, the All Blacks are, not unexpectedly, stomping the shit out of the Tongans, and spectacles of similar magnificence (most of them featuring the South Africans as the stomped-on) will be occurring virtually daily for the next month or so. It is a prospect that can test the self-discipline of even the most grumpy amongst us.

Not that Israel is off the hook, of course. Only a country that has its priorities seriously out of whack offers hundreds of cable and satellite TV channels with all sorts of mind-numbing rubbish and the only thing you’re not going to find on them is rugby. Soccer, tennis, cycling – even wood sports, for fuck’s sake – but go look for a decent game of rugby. Nothing, zilch.

As usual, the Frogs let me down. You’d think that with their national team playing in the tournament, they’d take a break from their self-satisfied reality shows about impotent philosophers and make way for the real-man’s sport. Forget it. Though given the pathetic current form of the clutch of moffies they call a rugby team, it’s not entirely surprising. The French aren’t entirely devoid of shame, it turns out.

So let me give credit where it is due. My life has been saved by the wonderful enterprise of my cousins in Sydney, Australia, and a technology called the Sling Box. This is not a technology column and I’m not going to detail how it all works (Google it, you lazy bastards,) but suffice to say that a Sling Box connected, on one side, to my cousins’  TV decoder and , on the other, to the Internet, enables me to watch the games on my laptop. Which proves that blood is thicker than water (what the fuck does that really mean?) and technology trumps beating your head against the wall.

Not that the experience  is an unmitigated pleasure, mind you. Watching rugby on a laptop is not the same as watching it in HD on a wide screen, and the quality of the stream, after wending its way across oceans and continents from Sydney, ranges from acceptable to piss-poor. Right now, I’m watching pixelated red and black squares dance across the screen.

But I’m trying really hard to rise above my normal grumpiness. It is the rugby world cup and I  am watching it, even if it sometimes resembles the effects of a kaleidoscope.  It promises to be a good month.

Not for Israel, though. All indications are that it’s going to be a spectacularly shit month (year? decade?) for Israel. Turkey is threatening to send in the warships, Egypt is experimenting with exactly how cold a cold peace can get and the Palestinians, of course, are taking their case to the UN in about two weeks. Army generals are shooting their mouths off, as usual, and the authorities can’t seem to decide whether to scare the population into catatonia or blithely assure us that it’s business as usual, despite all the obvious indications to the contrary.

Whatever foreign policy the country may have had has collapsed. Other than some brain-dead Reublicans in Congress and the guilt-ridden Germans, Israel doesn’t have a friend in sight. Even the worst days of yore seem encouraging compared to the isolation and incompetence of today.

But I promised not to go there, didn’t I? You’re going to have to do your own wrist-slitting for a while. I’m watching rugby.