1. It's hard not to like judoka Arik Ze'evi. He's nice, he's dedicated, he brought us honor. But the embarrassment over his defeat in the Olympics was as great as the expectations of him. It happens, but it hurts. To lose the fight in the first 43 seconds is the last thing he expected.
The television audience felt sorry for him. What particularly embarrassed me was that in TV interviews, he burst into tears every time. Judo is the most macho sport in the world, even if it doesn't excite me too much.
That day when they kept showing him crying, I put myself in his shoes and thought I would have cried too. He even moved the man who telegrammed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi - none other than our own president, who sent Ze'evi a consolation telegram. The more he cried, the more I believed an athlete doesn't cry.
When I saw windsurfer Lee Korzits fighting like a lioness to win a medal, her tears mingling with the sand on her face, my heart went out to her. She missed a medal by a hair. Our mistake was that we didn't send Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in her place. Who knows how to zigzag with the changing winds as well as he?
2. Our athletes' return from the Olympics with long faces proves that there are no free lunches and no achievements without a serious effort by the officials. Sports are the antithesis of Jewish tradition. We're known as the People of the Book, as athletes of the brain. It's impossible to go from being the People of the Book and philosophy to the high jump and the broad jump.
During the first stage in this country, we made a tremendous effort to be builders and farmers. During the present stage we have transferred this manual labor to Arabs and migrant workers and have taken a giant step in high tech and innovative agriculture, which we sell to countries all over the world.
Athletes are identified at an early age. In China they start training them at 4. A good swimmer needs a certain physique, long arms and wide hands. Here we cut corners. We certainly don't invest enough resources in designing the perfect athlete, maybe because it's not in our genes.
The main question is whether developing athletes is a top national priority. Look around and see how many fat people hold key positions in the public service. The mayor of New York would faint if he saw senior police officers as fat as the ones here. And apparently ours weren't told about the new rules on relations between a commander and a female subordinate, and even a president and a female subordinate.
3. At present we see a country whose leaders are incapable of offering the people a genuine vision. This picture becomes clearer in light of two external events: the Olympics and the landing of the NASA rover on Mars. These events reflect human ability and the need to choose goals that transcend everyday existence. That's the case of athletes who try to stretch the envelope of human ability after choosing a goal and a vision, and it's true of the Mars landing. What are our leaders offering us? A binational state? A world war with Iran? Life in a bunker and bomb shelters?
Bibi thinks his historic goal is to save Israel from the king of demons, Ashmedai. The prime minister has a Churchill complex, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak exploits that when he whispers in his ear that we're coordinated with America.
The familiar picture on TV is Barak whispering into Bibi's ear with his hand covering his mouth, in case, God forbid, someone in the television audience reads lips. What does he whisper to him, the man who is so close to Bibi's ear? That everything will be all right? That he and his four-member Knesset faction stand behind him in the war that will lead the country to disaster?
Meanwhile, Bibi is preventing photographers from taking his picture with his leg in a cast, so people won't say he's a lame duck. With or without a cast, Bibi is bombarding the public with economic measures. The ultra-Orthodox are getting carrots and the wealthy are cutting coupons.
And then comes the question whether raising taxes should also apply to state's witness S. in the Holyland corruption trial. He's receiving over a million shekels and a cancellation of his debts to the Tax Authority. Apparently that's the only sport an Israeli can win.
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