FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

‘Israel’ meets South Africa in World Baseball Classic

On September 19th at 7:00 PM a baseball team representing Israel will play South Africa in the first game of a qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic.  What makes this noteworthy is that baseball is virtually unknown in Israel.  The country has only one playable field and the idea of Israelis being competitive at this level is as unimaginable as a pork chop at a Passover meal.

Yet the “Israelis” are actually favored to win this qualifier round which in addition to South Africa includes teams from Spain and France.  How is this possible?  Major league baseball, which produces the Classic, has declared players who claim one Jewish parent or one Jewish grandparent (depending on your source) to be eligible to compete for the Israeli national team.

How and why did this bizarre eligibility standard come into being?  According to the Bleacher Report, seven of 30 major league teams have Jewish owners.   The current baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, who is a former owner, is Jewish.   Ostensibly these rulers of the sport are allowing Americans to play for Israel in the hope of promoting baseball in the Holy Land, which has been a recent project of a handful of Jewish-Americans who have immigrated to Israel.

More likely, it is a pro-Israel public relations gambit. Many supporters of Israel believe that any sports or entertainment-related publicity Israel can garner helps divert public attention from that nation’s military aggression and abuses of Palestinian human and political rights.  Also, the conflation of world Jewry and Israeli nationality is thought by many to bolster the standing of the Israeli government and help shield it against criticism.

This means the “Israelis” will field a team of American minor leaguers, two recently retired big leaguers, Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler, along with three token Israeli citizens.  This team should win the qualifier and advance to the championship which will be played in March 2013.  That will be the off-season for Major League Baseball, so if the “Israelis” advance to the main tournament they could fortify their team with such big league stars as Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis and Ike Davis.  All these players have been approached and have reportedly expressed interest in playing for Israel.

If the Israelis win the qualifier it will be the realization of the dream of some American-Israeli baseball promoters.  They envision the Israelis facing an American All-StarTeam in the March tournament as generating immense interest in the sport in Israel.

As Bill Shaikin of the LA Times says, “If baseball is to capture the Israeli imagination, it might be now or never. If Israel wins that one game — the championship game of that qualifying tournament — then the national sporting conversation might turn to the tantalizing prospect of Derek Jeter batting against the Jewish homeland.”

One Jew’s dream could, however, be another’s nightmare, since what would be in effect a contest between American Jews and non-Jews could prove to be socially divisive and, at the very least, be perceived to be in extraordinarily bad taste.

Tickets for the Israel vs. South Africa contest can be purchase through Ticketmaster for the unbelievably low price of $13.80 including fees.  For those unable to attend, the game will be broadcast on Israel Sports Radio starting at 6:45 PM.   There is also the possibility that the live video of the game could be transmitted by one of the many illegal free sports Internet sites.

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian and writer.  He lives in Madison, NY with his wife, the historian Linda G. Ford.  Mr. Glunts lived in Israel for a couple of years in the 70s and never saw baseball being played there.

More articles by:

IRA GLUNTS first visited the Middle East in 1972, where he taught English and physical education in a small rural community in Israel. He was a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces in 1992. Mr. Glunts is a Jewish American who lives in Madison, New York. He owns and operates a used and rare book business and is a part-time reference librarian. Mr. Glunts can be reached at gluntsi[at]morrisville[dot]edu.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail