This month has seen the ongoing drama surrounding the international soccer association known as FIFA. Many of its top officials have been arrested and indicted for accepting millions of dollars in bribes when assigning venues for the World Cup and other major soccer sporting events. The head of the association, Sepp Blatter, resigned in shame. But as far as Israel is concerned, all of this is only a sideshow to what to us was the main issue up for vote: the resolution put forward by the Palestinian Authority to expel Israel from FIFA membership.
This tactic of the Palestinian Authority was part of its overall strategy of conducting a diplomatic intifada against Israel in all international bodies where Israel is a member. It is part of the Palestinian campaign to have the United Nations pass Security Council resolutions against Israel and to make the State of Israel vulnerable to international sanctions in the event that these resolutions are somehow not abided by. So the question as to whether Israel would be expelled from the world soccer federation carried with it grave potential for more serious damage to the Jewish state in the future.
Eventually, it became apparent, even to the Palestinians, that the resolution would not pass. There were attempts in the days before the vote to engineer a compromise that would give the Palestinians some concessions. But Israel stood firm, so at the end of the day, nothing really happened. Israel is still a member of FIFA, and the Palestinians have promised to kick the can down the road and bring the issue up again next year.
But it is interesting to note that there is no moral hesitation on the part of FIFA, an organization riddled with corruption and exposed as being venal, indecent and unfair, to sit and pontificate about absurd charges of oppression and discrimination brought against the State of Israel. Since hypocrisy is the gristmill of all diplomacy, one should not be surprised, shocked or disappointed about the behavior of FIFA. Those who proclaim themselves to be the champions of sport, fairness, and inclusion have turned out to be robbers, exploiters, and unprincipled haters.
Many Israelis are delighted that the efforts of the Palestinians failed and that Israel still remains a member in good standing of FIFA. Personally, I cannot help but chuckle to myself that FIFA’s undoing was somehow connected, time-wise, to its willingness to be used as an agent of anti-Israel propaganda and boycott. In its sham political correctness, FIFA hastily took up a wrong and absurd cause and established itself as an arbitrator of diplomatic disputes that have nothing to do with soccer and sports. It shot itself in the foot and has been exposed as the criminal organization it is. There are no coincidences in God’s world.
Membership in FIFA is a little like Groucho Marx’s famous quip, “I don’t want to be a member of any country club that would accept me as a member.” There is little honor being associated with FIFA’s and its corrupt practices and officials. But Israel is not in a position to refuse even the smallest of crumbs extended to it by the international community.
So, we should feel some satisfaction in the fact that Israel is still a member in good standing of an organization that itself is not in such good standing. But we live in a very ironic world. The Yiddish equivalent of a “raspberry” or “Bronx cheer” is the “fife.” Well, I, for one, say, “Fife on FIFA.”
For more on soccer in Israeli culture, please listen to: http://www.rabbiwein.com/Ramat-Shlomo–Shuafat-brThe-Streets-of-Jerusalem-P411.html