a different side of Israel

Tag: sport

This Week in Palestine

Palestinian Soccer TeamKicking the Ball Against the Wall

On Tuesday, The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was chagrined by the cancellation of the scheduled soccer match between the Palestinian National Soccer team and the Central African soccer team in Palestine, by the Central African Republic government. FIFA had slated the match for the 17th of November 2010.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an official statement, the decision is a sign of deference to Israel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said such incidents impede the path to peace in the region, which is supported by the International Community. The Ministry claimed that it illustrates the link between politics and sports. The Ministry forgot about the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The so-called link between politics and sports, which the Palestinians claim should not exist, has slighted Israel so often in the past. Israeli tennis talent, Shahar Pe’er was refused a visa by the United Arab Emirates, preventing her from competing in the Sony Ericsson World Tennis Association Tour in Dubai, in February of 2009.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian athletes have refused to compete against Israeli athletes in international sporting events. Iran lost a possible medal and points in the 2010 World Wrestling Championships in Moscow, earlier this year when the Greco-Roman wrestler Taleb Nematpour refused to compete against his Israeli rival for the championship match. He said:

“I avoided the match as a sign of sympathy with the people of Palestine.”

Esmail Kowsari, a legislator and staunch opponent of any direct competition between Iranians and Israelis, claims that:

“Such justifications – made to international athletic federations and committees to avoid penalties – are unnecessary and athletes should be proud of withdrawing…I say our athletes shouldn’t even use illness as an excuse for their honourable deed…We have repeatedly announced that we don’t recognize Israel.”

When the Iranian Arash Miresmaeili refused to fight Israeli Ehud Vaks in the Judo championship of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Ayatollah Khamenei told the young athlete, “This was worth a hundred medals.”

Hamas: Ahmadinejad, Visit Gaza Like You Visited Lebanon!

This week, Hamas invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Gaza.

In an interview Tuesday with the Fars news agency in Gaza, Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yousef said a visit by the Iranian president would:

“Boost the morale of the Palestinian people and the resistance.”

“We invite Ahmadinejad to visit the Gaza Strip and we are confident that this trip will be of paramount importance.”

Yousef said to the Iranian Press TV network.

Obama Inhaled Too Many Volcanic Ash Fumes in Indonesia:

U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Israel on Tuesday during a news conference in Indonesia, following an announcement on Monday that Israel has proceeded with plans to build 1,345 homes in east Jerusalem.

“This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.”

Said Obama in Jakarta.

Yellow Belly Republic

The al-Khaleej newspaper’s got the scoop! Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will soon be visiting Lebanese dictator, Saad Hariri to discuss

“Iran’s ownership of what he regards as the struggle of the Muslim world against Israel.”

As Jerusalem Post’s Jonathan Spyer worded it.

Will he visit the Southern border with Israel? Does the Iranian leader have the chutzpa?

Spyer observed that the visit could be a signal that the Republic of Lebanon is making a de facto initiation into the “axis of evil,” to borrow a phrase from the Bush-era.

Iran wishes to make itself the crux authority in the region, despite its non-Sunni and non-Arab population. Of course Abbas’ Western diplomacy and recent reception of $400 million from the World Bank only has the Iranian leader salivating more to make his proxy weapon, Hezbollah, more of a bona fide sovereignty in the region – and thereby lifts Iran to an even more authoritative position through the world over.

As a result of Iran’s weight, the good citizens of Lebanon have not stood a chance to build a state which is respectable and buoyant at-best since their 2005 withdrawal from Syria.

Restrictions on banking services and shipping are reducing Iran’s ability to sell the crude oil which is critical to its economy; a result of the country’s nuclear policy. Yet Ahmadinejad refuses to cite any other root cause than the Jewish Country for its woes.

And speaking of which, Iran lost a possible medal and many points in the 2010 World Wrestling Championships in Moscow, this month, when the Greco-Roman wrestler Taleb Nematpour refused to compete against his Israeli rival for the championship match.

Supposedly, Miresmaeili withdrew because he exceeded the weight limit – however, he was quoted on his return home saying he had

“avoided the match as a sign of sympathy with the people of Palestine.”

Wrote Foreign Correspondent, Maryam Sinaiee of the Abu Dhabi news source, The National.

If that were the case, why not stay and fight? I don’t know – call it Jihad or something! Pin the Jew and cry, “Free Palestine!”

Nematpour had won the 2010 Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées Golden Prix Finals and was also a 2010 World Cup bronze medalist.

Iran reported that he withdrew due to “severe appendix pains.” Though Esmail Kowsari, a legislator and staunch opponent of any direct competition with Israelis, claims that:

“Such justifications – made to international athletic federations and committees to avoid penalties – are unnecessary and athletes should be proud of withdrawing.”

Kowsari said:

“I say our athletes shouldn’t even use illness as an excuse for their honourable deed…We have repeatedly announced that we don’t recognize Israel.”

Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian athletes have refused to compete against Israeli athletes in international sporting events.

“This was worth a hundred medals,” said Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei to Arash Miresmaeili after the judo champion refused to fight Israeli Ehud Vaks in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

A political analyst in Tehran, who insists to remain anonymous said:

“Iranian and Israeli athletic performance has significantly improved since 1983 and resulted in more frequent chances of their confrontation in international athletic competition…It has also become more difficult for the Iranian athletes and authorities to justify absence from competitions to Olympics committees and international athletic federations. The denial of the consideration of lifting the ban shows that the dilemma of facing the Israeli athletes or not facing them and bearing the consequences will not be resolved any time soon…”

In July, Iran was accused of putting politics before sports at the Youth Olympics because of its withdrawal from a taekwondo final against the Jewish Country – known to be talented in the Martial Arts.

Anyway, now-a-days, any conflict which is beyond resolution by cathartic sportsmanship is very much a risk to world peace!

Get in the ring guys!

Cheap Shot

I know this is a cheap shot literally but we can’t help it. A reader sent this in and well, you be the judge.

This is the official statement from Tiger

Cheap Shot - The Woods

18th Maccabiah Games Are On

The 18th Maccabiah Games, Israel’s Jewish Olympiad, are finally here; and judging from the number of registered athletes and other visitors, the two week event promises to be even bigger and better than previous ones with various sporting events taking place all over the country. As in previous Maccabiah venues, the big challenge is being able to see the various events that are being offered, as they are literally scattered around at various sports centers and stadiums, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberius, Caesarea, Netanya, Metro Tel Aviv area, etc., etc.

And the 5,300 foreign and 2,000 Israeli athletes who will be participating in all the various events, including football and Rugby, fencing, basketball, cricket, tennis, judo, track & field, baseball and softball, and more mundane venues like lawn bowls, chess, and table tennis, will likewise be scattered all over in hotels and guest hostels, sport center lodgings, and even home hospitality.

The logistical aspects of these games differ considerably from the Olympiad, in that there is no central Olympic Village for the foreign athletes to stay in, resulting in their being billeted in various places. There is also no central dining facilities, and since many athletes require special diets (depending on the events they participate in) and have various eating schedules (also due to competition event scheduling), feeding all these people is a challenge in itself.

Ramat Gan StadiumMany events are occurring well before the opening ceremony in Ramat Gan National Stadium on July 13th. Some of these include volleyball and other beach events in Nahariya, Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Ashkdelon. Rugby and some football games will be held on Sunday, July 12. Maccabiah organizers are very pleased that there is a 20% increase in participating athletes despite the ongoing global economic recession. That in itself is a reason to celebrate, many organizers are saying. Although many events require admission tickets, a number of events are free, including the volleyball and other beach events, which means you can combine these with your weekend beach outing. And also in contrary to the Olympiad, many events are for people 50+ and are also suitable for non-athletes (chess, for example).

Some special athletes and sportsmen who will be attending this year’s Maccabiah include American Jewish swimmer Jason Lezak, who won seven medals in three Olympic Games (the swimming events will be held 19-22 July at the Wingate Institute). Argentine football referee Horacio Elizondo, who was the referee for the Final of the World cup tournament in Germany between Italy and France, will serve as the referee at the football tournament; Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton who will be the special guest of the British football team and world chess Grand Master Boris Gelfand.

Israeli rugby side outlasts Slovenia in World Cup prelim

Israel Vs Slovania RugbyIt’s not like American football, and it’s not nearly as popular as “kadur regel” or European football (i.e. soccer to Americans), but the manly sport of rugby is on the map in Israel and gaining in popularity. Saturday’s game at the Wingate Institute outside Netanya pitted Israel’s national team against a visiting team from Slovenia. Many people don’t even know where that country is, also we will say that it is part of the former Federation of Yugoslavia and is sandwiched between Austria and Croatia (another former part of Marshall Tito’s Slavic empire).

But despite not being a front-running sport the 1,000 or so fans who did show up were treated to a whale of a game, while they munched South African style boerwere sausages, washed down by draft beer, courtesy of Tel Aviv’s Dancing Camel brewery. The TV cable sports channel 5+ had their crew there too, as the game was filmed live on cable TV.

The small, heavily Israeli audience (it appears only the Slovenian team pitched up) was not without lack of spirit however as horns, drums, and good sets of lungs made up for the sparse attendance. Of course as on fan who hails from Ireland put it: “I guess you can’t compare it to some games in Ireland or the UK when as many as 80,000 pitch up for a match”.

The Israeli team got off to a slow start; and before they knew it, were behind Slovenia 6 – nil after the Slovenics got two 3 point penalty kick conversions in a row. But the Israeli side wasn’t to be outdone as they soon managed to tie it up 6 – 6. The game then became a see-saw as both Israel and Slovenia each got 5 point tries (the equivalent of a touchdown in American sports language) with some 3 pointers thrown in between. At the end of the game, which somehow managed to go about 7 minutes over allotted time, the score ended up with Israel on top 26 – 19, and will now be able to go on to the next qualifying round. According to some rugby experts in the crowd, the Israeli side will need to polish up their game, if they expect to go very far in their next qualifying rounds.

That were so many young sports enthusiasts, including members of an Israeli female rugby team in their blue jerseys, and a boy’s youth team there as well, the sport seems to have a future in a country where “round ball football” still is king (there were no big write-ups in the papers on the game).

Opening Matkot Season

Like baseball in America, the sport of Matkot happens in Israel every Spring (and Summer, Fall and even Winter, for that matter). You just can’t go the beach in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Herzelia, Haifa, Ashdod or Ashkelon without seeing people hitting a small rubber ball back and forth to each other with a large wooden paddle that resembles a piece of plywood sandwiched between two pieces of rubber or other material. And the characteristic “poing poing” of the paddles can be heard so much that most beaches require these players to square off on a beach section set off just for them.

Often said to be Israel’s “unofficial national sport” Matkot comes from the words “Makah” in Hebrew or “madka” in Arabic, both words meaning a knock or blow. The sport’s origins seem to come from back in the 1930’s when people were first seen batting a small ball back and forth on the Tel Aviv beachfront. Probably, it was because things were a bit more laid-back in those days, and there simply weren’t very many tennis or squash courts available. So, one had to do what one had to do – and that was to improvise.

Since those simpler times, the sport has spread to other countries as well – especially to those that also have good beach fronts to play on, including those southern islands like Koh Samui in Thailand, where “just a few” young Israelis are often seen hanging out.

The sport attacks both young and old aficionados, and some of the real “veterans” such as one known as Morris “The Great” and Amnon “The Cannon” have decided to take the sport even further by setting up an official Matkot Museum where photos and paddles used by some of the Matkot greats of the sport will now get the attention they are surely due. We would imagine that some of Israel’s most interesting, if not famous personalities have “had a go” at this game at one time or another; and their photos while engaged in a heavy Matkot round will probably be seen there as well. Negotiations are now going on with the Tel Aviv Municipality to be given a suitable place where all this glorious stuff can be put on display for all to see.

In the meantime, Morris “The Great” Zadok, has set up a museum of his own, located at 61 Shabazi Street in the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood (Also known as Shikun Shabazi). There’s even talk about trying to get this great sport entered as an Olympic event. Who knows? It might wind up being the source of Israel’s next gold medal.

As for guys like Morris, and Amnon, you’ll still find them on the beachfront, enjoying the game they have grown to love so much. ” I dream every night of the next day’s game” Amnon says.

Israeli Maccabiah games

Maccabiah opening ceremoniesThe 17th Maccabiah games (AKA. Jewish Olympics) started this week, an event that happens every 4 years. Over 7,000 athletes from 55 countries will participate in the events. The ceremony was impressive, big, colorful and uniquely Israeli, a real world class events with a reported 30,000 in attendance. Run loosely along Olympic guidelines, the 11-day event includes athletics, swimming, football and tennis as well as lawn bowls, chess, bridge, netball and cricket.

The opening ceremonies were attended by senior members of government, all sitting behind bulletproof glass, of course. Sharon in his address basically tried to encourage Aliyah (a permanent return to Israel) and took the opportunity to blatantly tell the athletes to basically stick around when the games are all done. There is traditionally a certain percentage of athletes that remains after these events and the big man was trying his best convince them to stay.

And now for something completely out there, Shas Party (the main religious party) Chairman, Eli Yishai, attacked the 17th Maccabiah management for desecrating Shabbat by requiring personnel to work on Saturday to prepare for the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony. He said their actions were a “disgrace” that crossed red lines. Yishai said a worker told him he and his friends had to start preparing for Saturday night’s dress rehearsal before the end of Shabbat.

The worker refused to reveal his identity out of fear they would lose their jobs. Funnily enough it seems that this employee would rather keep his Shabbat desecrating job then quit though – interesting. Maccabiah spokespeople responded by saying, “We would be happy to see Yishai among the Knesset Members and government ministers that will partake in this international event.”, in short telling Yishai to take a flying leap.

Netanya suicide attackUnfortunately, the next day after the opening ceremonies a suicide bomber drove into the center of Netanyah, approximately 35 minutes from Tel Aviv, blowing up, killing 4 women and wounding 90 people. The blast took place outside a busy downtown shopping mall.
An hour earlier, the Dutch soccer team attending the Maccabiah games left that same mall for soccer practice. The team is staying at a local Netanyah hotel and after the blast several team members said they wanted to go home. Several forum posts on local news sites suggested the players try London..

Their team manager said, “Most of our players are in shock, and we do not know how they will deal with it. Most of them want to leave Israel as soon as possible, because they are not used to such a thing. I will try to convince them to stay for the games, but it is their individual decision.”

Netherland players looking pale

And in all this, a truly great story, an Israeli Arab teenage girl from the town of Sakhnin became one of the first medalists in this year’s Maccabiah Games with a victory in the women’s 200-meter breastroke in the Wingate Institute pool, causing a wave of pride in her father, family and community.

Asala wins a gold medal

Halaj Shahada, proud father of Asala, 17, said there would be celebrations in Sakhnin following her gold medal win. “The Maccabiah belongs not only to all the Jews, but also to all the Israelis, and I am a proud Israeli,” Asala said.

Israeli Olympics, never a dull moment.

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