# 402 Old-fashioned Sport by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 402 Old-fashioned Sport

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 417

Old-fashioned Sport

Let’s just call it ‘apathy’. – the main reason why I felt the need to start writing these letters.

So many say that Israel has a faulty propaganda system. Perhaps, but I think the real problem is apathy. For some reason, few are interested in knowing the ‘real story’ about this strange country. They read what they read, believe some of it, usually the worst bits, and then commence the criticism. That’s what I observe, and that’s why I try so hard to ‘tell the real story’.


Certainly, one proof that the ‘story out there’ is all twisted is the 99% reaction of visitors to Israel. “Wow, I never thought it would be like this’. The openness, the variety, the tolerance, the mix, the modernity, intermingled with history. Israel has ‘everything’, whether you want it or not.

And it has the Maccabiah.

No matter how many times people hear of this event, the info usually goes in one ear and….etc. So, what is it?


The 2nd largest international sports event in the World, with over 10,000 participants from over 80 countries in more than 40 sports events.

Like the Olympics, they take place every 4 years – July 14 – 26 this year – and always in Israel. Officially, it is only for Jewish participants. Luckily the rabbinate (the ‘official’ religious leaders) does not have a say in the participants’ ‘Jewishness’.


I don’t actually know how many records were broken (and that does happen). But I do know that Israel welcomed around 40,000 additional visitors during these days, participants, family and friends, and that they left happy. Some came – and stayed. New immigrants. Quite a percentage more will decide to come back later and make ‘aliyah’.

For these games have little to do with rivalry, with winning. They have to do with participation, communication, comradery. The old-fashioned ‘taking part’, rather than the need to win. (A big like my tennis – I prefer losing well than winning badly).


They say that at the closing ceremony, the inter-exchange of ‘national ‘wear’ became a friendly frenzy. Greeks went home with Brazilian hats, Cubans with Australian scarves and British with Mongolian socks.

And the events? They included women’s ice hockey, cross-country motor bikes, handicapped golf (including the leading blind player in the World – and chess. All age groups, all standards. All friends.


And don’t think that this is a Jewish joke. The Games are real. They started in 1932, long before the birth of the State of Israel. And they have already started the preparations for Maccabiah 22 in 2026.

And while I have your attention, let’s touch on the subject of the Palestinians. A day or two ago, I was talking with ‘one of you’, and when I mentioned this subject, I immediately heard the criticism of Israel’s treatment of these people. Well, it’s easy to tell ‘just the juicy bits’ and to leave out the rest – and I’m not going to ‘start that again’. But a letter today to the Jerusalem Post reminded us of some ‘forgotten facts’ that are very relevant.


The letter focused on the possible importance of Saudi Arabia à propos Palestinians. You may know that Pres. Biden was last week in the M. East.  Some will understandably say that the main focus was on getting the Saudis to join the ‘Abraham Accords’ – the agreement already signed between Israel and some of the Gulf States and Morocco. Well, it didn’t happen. There is a definite softening in the relations between the Saudis and Israel, (and I now quote the letter, with slight ‘shorening here and there) but they specifically stated that they will not sign anything until the Palestinian ‘issue’ is handled.


The idea is for Israel to place its trust in Saudi Arabia. There is a suggestion that a country ruled for the past 100 years by one family with no democracy or elections of any kind, no rule of law, no religious freedom, no women’s rights, no press freedom, and no respect for human rights, should be the country that should replace the US as the broker in trying to achieve a two-state solution is absurd.

The Saudi peace plan is not about peace. It is about the destruction of Israel in stages. All the other ideas put forward by Left-wingers are equally out of the question. The only idea of that is correct is their own conclusion that their ideas are not very likely to succeed.


For just over the past hundred years, the Saudi royal family have been the custodians of the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina. For nine hundred years before that, the Hashemites and the Ottomans were the custodians. The Hashemites lived in the western part of Arabia known as the Hejaz. The Hejaz included Mecca, Medina and the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah.

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the conquest of the Hashemites by the House of Saud, the position changed. The Hashemites were expelled from Arabia and the House of Saud became the rulers of what is now called Saudi Arabia.


(Now note this…) In 1922, Winston Churchill, the British secretary of the colonies, issued a White Paper. In it he stated that the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 had never promised the whole of Palestine to the Jews, and that the British had decided to offer Transjordan to the Hashemites. The Hashemites accepted and changed the name of Transjordan to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

By a stroke of a pen, the British had given away over 70% of their mandated area of Palestine to the Hashemites from Saudi Arabia. (My italics). Today more than 50% of the population of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are Palestinians. Jordan is de facto a Palestinian state, but not a legal de jure Palestinian state.


Had the Hashemites remained in Saudi Arabia, it seems possible that a two-state solution based on the division of the whole of the British mandated area into Israel and Palestine might have been achieved. The actions of Saudi Arabia and Britain back in the 1920s coupled with subsequent Palestinian maximalist demands of a Palestinian state from the river to the sea have contributed to preventing any viable two-state solution from ever being achieved. It should be noted that it was only in 1938 that oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia. Before that the Saudis were known as camel traders and were among the poorest people on earth. How times have changed.


Back to me….of course the Palestinians don’t want the truth to come out….with the UN giving them carte blanche via the UNRWA, any change for the truth would be disastrous for them.


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