Wednesday, July 4, 2007
The Fourth of July, Judah Magnes, and the Israel Baseball League
OK, so I just had my July 4 barbecue (mangal) here in Jerusalem with my family. God bless America. One day I will argue that you can't really be unreservedly pro-Israel (in the ZOA sense of the term) and love America. You certainly can't consistently love Israel and be a Republican. But I wander... I want to say a few good words about the new Israel Baseball League. I know that my friend Dan Kurtzer has moved up in the world from US ambassador to Israel and Egypt to Commissioner (Netziv!) of the IBL. Gosh, for less than 15 bucks, you can get a baseball with his autograph on it. Kurtzer was quoted by Joel Greenberg as saying: "'Judah Magnes, an early Zionist leader and the first president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, played second base for the university in 1927 in what might have been the first organized baseball game in the Holy Land,' wrote Kurtzer, who is currently teaching at Princeton." Of course, it would have been inappropriate for Dan to mention that Magnes was dead set against the establishment of the State of Israel, or that he predicted most of what came to pass -- unending warfare, violation of the rights of the Palestinian natives, etc., etc. Better stick with baseball. So I would like to give two cheers to the new Israel Baseball League, and especially to the Netanya Tigers and Benji Engelhart. Way to go, Benji! Why only two cheers? Well, I can't help but noticing that the Israel Baseball League is really the Israeli Jewish Baseball League. What happened to 20% of the population? It's not that any of the teams have a lot of native Israelis on them. But couldn't they have found room for one team from, say, Um al-Fahm? Or even Yaffo? Even if there were American Jews on the team, at least the team could try to represent the town. I know, I know, baseball is not a Palestinian sport...yet. I am just grumbling. I do wish the guys and the fans well. Still, can't something be done to show some sensitivity to the Palestinian minority...maybe at least invite Palestinian kids from the Galilee to watch a game? I figure that with Kevish Shesh (Highway 6), the highway that stole the land from the Arab villages up north, getting to Kibbutz Gezer, where some of the games are to be played, should be a snap. Mah man Dan should be able to swing it, so long as he is not accused of being a self-hating Jew. That's how the rightwingers termed him during the years he was one of Secretary of State Baker's "Jewboys."