Suddenly a world where a Turkish referee tells Messi what’s what and a black African referee blows the whistle on European whites

Gideon Levy
Jun 28, 2018 12:36 AM


Prince William watches the World Cup with the Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein in the Beit Al Urdun PalaceTwitter

Suddenly – another world. Suddenly a sense of justice. Suddenly solidarity with minorities, suddenly a chance for the weak. Suddenly, a world without Israel at its center. Without Israel at its navel. Without Israel at all. No referee or usher. Not even security advisers and economic manipulators from Israel, and the world is getting by.

No cherry tomatoes and no Jewish genius. No Benjamin Netanyahu, at least until the finish. Suddenly it’s not important whether it’s good for the Jews or not. Suddenly no America, either. A world without America. Without Donald Trump. Without even China. Suddenly, Croatia is an empire. Nigeria is hope. Egypt shed a tear. Uruguay schooled everyone in its group. Iranians are human beings, determined, sympathy-inspiring fighters, may they only succeed. People in Bat Yam are waving their flag and crossing their fingers for them shamelessly. Another world.

Suddenly a world with equal rules for everyone. With an international law everyone respects. No Holocaust discounts. No chosen people. With a Turkish referee who tells Lionel Messi what’s what and a black referee from Africa who blows the whistle on whites from Europe. Suddenly a nation. Not of hatred, but of pride. Turns out there is something like that, who knew?

 

Even a nation that isn’t yours can move you and fill you with pride. A nation free of nationalism. Suddenly also an anthem. Loud, but without belligerence. No religion. No race. A black player in Denmark’s uniform, a white player in Nigeria’s uniform. The French team’s tricolor. Only Iceland is all white, and Korea is all Asian. But they too are on the map. And Russia is a model of good taste and organization. Who knew you were like that, mother Russia.

 

Suddenly even Arabs are human beings. Arabs, imagine that. Arabs. Like in Halhul. Arabs are better than the Israelis, at least in something. How will we hide our shame and what will we do with the cognitive dissonance. They’re better even than Eran Zehavi. And no Eli Tabib. You have to pinch yourself to believe it.

And yet, an Israeli broadcaster wishes Saudi Arabia and Egypt a tie, so neither is humiliated. Would you believe it? Suddenly no “displays of anti-Semitism” around every corner, no Israeli-flag burning, which the knee-jerk broadcasters keep searching for. Suddenly there are no Jews, either. No Jewish organizations. No Jewish philanthropists.

Suddenly there’s something to talk about with the children. Suddenly it’s okay to get excited without restraint. Emotions can overflow. Let Sweden win. Let Germany sweat and be embarrassed, if only for a moment. God help Senegal. Let Egypt not be degraded. Let Peru go home with points. Let Morocco and Tunisia’s fans get some joy.

Suddenly a chance for the weak. Suddenly perhaps they all really are human beings. Even the Iranians, including the Saudis. And all this without America, this must be said again and again, a world without America. Even without Jared Kushner. A world without Roni Daniel and Amit Segal, who always know everything, without Nir Dvori, who recites Israel’s military successes, no Ayala Hasson and no Yonit Levy. A global world without Nadav Eyal. Another world. With Latin America and black Africa, without Miri Regev’s baloney, Bezalel Smotrich’s racism, Avi Dichter’s nonsense, Ofir Akunis’ flatulence, Stav Shafir’s struggles and Avigdor Lieberman’s barking. Can you imagine that?

A world without yarmulkes and without settlers. A tournament without a divine promise, apart from Maradona. Almost without any racist or chauvinist remarks from the broadcasters, except for the Messi and Western Wall affair, which is also, praise God, behind us.

A world almost without blood, and very little violence. No arrogant babble, no “we’ll retaliate at the appropriate time and place” and “prepared for every scenario.” Only the ball speaks and anything can happen.

A world without generals and politicians. Without lawyers and strategic advisers in the studios. A beautiful world, If only for a moment. And look, already a headline is flickering on the news site, putting an end to all this: “Zionist Union in crisis.” End of the world.

Gideon Levy

Haaretz Correspondent

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