Now you may think from the headline this will be an item about a great politician, military thinker or even a Messianic visitation. No. This will be about 11 green men.
Well to some extent it really is about a phenomenon alien to Israelis: good news.
Last night the soccer players of Maccabi Haifa took to the playing field at their “home” (sic.) stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus in their second-ever game in Europe’s premier club tournament, the Champions League.
After last week’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of the mighty Manchester United, hopes were not that high ahead of the game against Greece’s perennial national champions, Piraeus Olympiakos.
However, the green shirts of Haifa were a spectacle at which to marvel. “They ran their little hearts out,” as one friend would no doubt have put it. From the referee’s first whistle to the last kick of the game 90 minutes later, Haifa was supreme. Every player contributed something. It made all of Israel stand still and wallow in pride.
In the event, one man scored all of Haifa’s goals in the 3-0 victory, but this success was shared, and deservedly so, by all the players, the substitutes on the bench, the team coach and staff, the thousands of Israelis in the stadium and the six million back home who didn’t make the trip.
But this victory was symbolic of much more than just a moment of passion.
It summed up Israel’s fighting spirit. Against all the odds, all the expectations, all the predictions, Israelis survive. This tiny country surrounded by less-than-friendly neighbors and a far-from-sympathetic world manages to keep going like a swimmer struggling against the tide.
There are so many setbacks as Israel strives for long-lasting peace and national security, yet the country keeps that goal in mind 365 days a year.
Like some soccer minnow aiming to win a European championship that the vast majority of onlookers believe it cannot, Israel never gives up hope, never loses sight of its goal, never abrogates its desire for the trophy of peace.