Fight like in Gaza
The national soccer team will burst into the stadium, strengthened and reinforced, and make mincemeat of the bitter enemy, as though they were cursed Arabs. At long last, they will have an opportunity to put their physical fitness to use and join an elite unit.
In another moment, this column will break through the censor's barrier and reveal a military secret: Israel is going to war, and zero hour is 9 P.M. tomorrow. And if Al Jazeera and the BBC want to rely on this information and broadcast it to the whole world, I am prepared to accept the consequences of having violated national security.
On Wednesday, a military affairs correspondent for the daily Yedioth Ahronoth - yes, he, not a sports reporter - published an exclusive item on the news pages: The commander of the Givati Brigade will be giving pep talks to Israel's national soccer team before the game against Greece. In recent weeks, coaches have been looking for a senior commander who fought in the Gaza Strip. In the wake of recommendations they received from the Israel Defense Forces, national team coach Dror Kashtan and his assistant, Moshe Sinai, contacted Col. Ilan Malka.
"Malka intends to speak with the players about the significance of the crucial game and about how the eyes of the nation of Israel are upon them," the reporter said, citing what Malka had told him. "He will demand of the players that they correct the mistakes of the past, just as he demanded of his soldiers that they correct the shortcomings of the Second Lebanon War - because just like in the battles in Gaza, they will not get a second chance. Fight like lions. You are representing something far greater than just a soccer match."
"It should be noted," the reporter then added on his own behalf, "that Malka sees a similarity between the role of a combat officer and the role of a team coach when it comes to preparations for a game or a battle."
This, in a nutshell, was the briefing by the colonel-golem who sees a soccer match as war and war as a soccer match. In both of these tests, "the eyes of the nation of Israel are upon them," and so forth.
And why should the coaches - two Olympic Village idiots - content themselves with pep talks from the acclaimed commander? Why not get help from the chief military rabbi, who has a reputation as a serious force multiplier? He will equate the match to the war between the Maccabees and the Greeks, giving it a religious, faith-based dimension and historic depth, and thereby transform it into a divinely ordained war, a jihad. The rabbi will explain to the players, just as he explained to the fighters, that anyone who is compassionate toward the cruel will end up being cruel to the compassionate. And then the team will burst into the stadium, strengthened and reinforced, and make mincemeat of the bitter enemy, as though they were cursed Arabs. At long last, they will have an opportunity to put their physical fitness to use and join an elite unit.
The IDF and the coaches have taken a calculated risk here: They no doubt thought in advance about the destructive results of a loss (heaven forbid) in this important battle: Israel's deterrence would once again be crushed, and in order to rehabilitate it, there would be no alternative but to wage another, even bigger war - perhaps against England or Spain.
And it is already possible to wait with bated breath for the tearful and revealing confessions of our player-warriors immediately after the game: how we wrote derisive slogans on the walls of the gentiles' dressing rooms and how we broke their bones with an iron foot and cast lead. And even if we lose this battle, we will win the war: Those wicked Greeks will not forget us - neither us nor the God of vengeance who saves us. Maybe they will score more goals, but we will derive more satisfaction from being the most moral soccer team in the world.
Now it is official: The country has gone crazy.