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Which Squad You Should Root For

Now that the U.S. is gone from the World Cup

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The Dutch team celebrates. Go Orange!(Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

There are eight teams left in the World Cup Finals. Which should be Tablet Magazine’s official team, since Tablet Magazine’s original official team was defeated Saturday? Let’s have a look at the nominees:

Uruguay. Harbored Nazis after the war.

Ghana. They (in soccer, a side are described with plural verbs) defeated Tablet Magazine’s official team, so by a certain logic they now claim that mantle. Plus, they have John Pantsil, who in the last World Cup waved an Israeli flag after scoring a goal, in honor of his then-team, Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Argentina. Harbored Nazis.

Paraguay. Harbored Nazis. Harbors Hamas.

Netherlands. Compared to most other Western European countries (ahem, France?), they resented Nazi persecution and slaughter of their Jews. Plus, Anne Frank lived there!

Germany. I mean.

Spain.

Brazil. You can’t root for Brazil: That’s like rooting for the Yankees or the Lakers! Plus, they harbored Nazis.

For now, Tablet Magazine is officially supporting the Netherlands, which is playing Brazil, and Ghana, which is playing Uruguay, both on Friday. We’ll revisit the matter after the quarter-finals. Happy watching!

Earlier: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

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Thanks for writing about this. It’s something a lot of Jews think about when it comes to international competition. When I was in Israel 4 years ago watching the World Cup, everyone was rooting against the French and Germany in the semi-finals for their history of anti-Semitism.

It is unfortunate that I should totally relate to this, but I do. Go Orange!

Christopher says:

The Jerusalem Post had an article which suggests Argentina is the anointed… http://www.jpost.com/Sports/Article.aspx?id=179030

squiggle says:

Actually, the idea that the Dutch collaborated with the Nazis less than people of other occupied countries has been pretty well debunked (eg. in the film Goodbye Holland).

More than three quarters of French Jews survived WW2, not least because of the help of other French people (eg., see American Jewish Year Book 1997 By David Singer, Ruth R. Seldin, page 291, which is on Google Books). And if you’re supporting countries based on historical events, how about the fact that it was at the hands of France that Jews across Europe were emancipated in the early 19th century?

The USA, by the way, refused to accept hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who later died at the hands of the Nazis.
The USA did, after the war, accept Nazi scientists.

squiggle says:

p.s. or you could forget the whole ridiculous question.

Oy veh says:

I think Argentina. One of the largest Jewish populations in world outside U.S. and Israel. Plus, Walter Samuel, one of their starters, is a Jew. More research next time.

I believe the article is supposed to be funny and it´s supposed to be about soccer. However, and just for the record, Argentina and Uruguay have two of the most vibrant and Zionist jewish communities in the World. Uruguay — a very small country — was receiving Jews by the thousands and without restrictions when the US closed its doors before the second world war. Defining these two countries with “harbored nazis” is beyond offensive, it´s ignorant and stupid.

Jay Jacobs says:

I am going to root for Mel Brooks!

Max J. says:

You might want to read Simon Kuper’s “Ajax, the Dutch, the War” and then reconsider that call. As for me, I’ll be proudly wearing my #11 Klose shirt on Saturday.

Garry says:

The world Cup may interet Jews as a sports event but as Jews it meands nithing more than any other sport event. Don’t waste time on whom we should support. That is nonsense.

Honest Broker says:

Relating whom to support in a sporting event based on what their politics was 60 years ago is absolutely astonishing. I have never heard anything more shetel mentality. ײַIt reminds me of the apocryphal declarations from some obscure rabbinical association in Brooklyn declaring that it is anti-semitic to support the L.A. Lakers based on a 17th century text about the sin whose acronym is לקר”ס

I am rooting for germany.Is this good for the Jews?Is this bad for the world?Should I hate myself so that some Jews will be more comfortable?

sharone says:

A hilarious article. Remember the days when the Olympics were so much better because of the propaganda drama between the USA and the USSR? People choose teams for all sorts of perverse or compelling reasons, and examining nations’ histories of crimes against the Jewish people is just as appropriate as any other method of selection.

Besides, as a Jew living in Germany who worked in the contemporary South American and European Jewish communities – national heritage that includes virulent anti-semitism rarely stays sixty years into the past. It’s still alive and well in many corners, and even in many high places, tolerated at best or perpetuated at worst.

American Jews need to move past their insularity and naive attitudes about what life is like for many Jews outside of NYC or LA. Just because some of us are now living in a place of safety and security, it doesn’t mean everybody is.

But mostly, this is a really funny piece. Thanks for the laugh, and articulating a shared wry perspective.

What a ridiculous article. I can’t tell whether it’s tongue in cheek or genuine, but seriously people, don’t judge a whole modern country based on it’s transgressions half a century ago.

Hear, hear to Honest Broker.

sharone says:

Another option, Joe et al, is to go to the effort of learning a bit about the current conditions in these modern countries and determine whether their transgressions DID actually end half a century ago. It can hardly be said that Argentina has moved past it, as even a cursory knowledge of the past 50 years of Jewish experience in that country would attest. Do a little research.

Regardless, I don’t enjoy kicking back at a pub and cheering on the various nations that murdered my grandparents, but perhaps that’s just me.

Oh no, it’s not just me, it’s also felt by the author of this article. YAY! And that makes me feel more less like crying into my beer alone at the local pub full of flag-waving Germans singing Deutschland Deutschland this Friday (when the local town is holding a party in the town village celebrating its SS veterans) or Saturday (when Germany plays again).

Thank you, you lovely Mr. Tracy, for a genuine and a very funny and a deeply comradely article. On Saturday, I will drink a brew to you. (but not on Friday.)

victor says:

The comment about Uruguay harboring nazis is inaccurate and shows ignorance. Uruguay was one of the first countries to recognize Israel and the Jewish community in Uruguay had never experienced any kind of discrimination. In the Uruguayan cabinet tpdau there are three Jewish ministers. There were quite a few collaborators in the Netherlands during the war, among them the ones who denounced the Frank family.
Victor from Montevideo, Uruguay

Sebastian says:

only an stupid and narrow minded people can write such an idiot article. With that way of thinking maybe you should stop rioting for the US since they launched an atomic bomb and killed millions and innocent people during the XX century

sharone says:

Hm. Uruguay.

This helpful 4/10 report from the Wiesenthal Center on contemporary Nazi hunts will aid our semitic statistical analysis of soccer team support (SSASTS):

http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441467&ct=8180041

April 11, 2010

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the initial findings of its ninth Annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, which covers the period from April 1, 2009 until March 31, 2010 and awarded grades ranging from A (highest) to F to evaluate the efforts and results achieved by more than three dozen countries which were either the site of Nazi crimes or admitted Holocaust perpetrators after World War II.

Category X: BRAZIL, FRANCE, URUGUAY
Those countries which…clearly did not take any action whatsoever to investigate suspected Nazi war criminals during the period under review.

sharone says:

p.s. Brilliant! Agreed – we should definitely stop rioting for the US. Much like football hooligans (and schools on sundays), riots have no class.

sharone says:

PARAGUAY is also rated Category X. Netherlands gets Category D.

Argentina has no suspected Nazi war criminals, but they do have this, according to the Washington Post: “In 1999, an Argentine government panel reported that at least 180 Nazis facing criminal charges in Europe had relocated to Argentina. That number, which other research groups have said is probably low, does not include rank-and-file Nazis who were not individually charged. No estimates are available for the number of Nazis who fled to other South American countries.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/05/AR2007120502437.html

delibletable says:

How about none of them? Because, you know, soccer BLOWS?

My father, Israel Tzvi Z”L, former player and lover of the game till his death at age 92, would, whenever we watched a game, locate Jewish players, descendents of Jews forced to convert. Ayala of Chile whose name means “deer” in Hebrew, the wonderful Brazilian midfielder in the 60′s and 70′s Gerson, clearly related to Gershon, the son of Moses, Pele, the name close to the Hebrew word for “wonder,” and others.
Recently studies show that 20% of the Iberian population have Jewish ancestry
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/world/europe/04iht-gene.4.18411385.html and an Israeli newspaper showed the new Israeli football team, Benayoun and Awat joined by Xavi and Villa.

Marc, every time a Jew displays a sense of humor, it means the Nazis have won. (Oh, you COULD see Jewish laughter as proof that the Nazis didn’t win, but you would be WRONG.)

sharone says:

wonderful post, Alon. Thanks for sharing. My husband’s family did/does that, too.

squiggle says:

So they’re racist, basically.

And no-one could possibly have found this article hilarious. That’s the sort of ‘hilarious’ people use when they agree with the writer’s point of view.

Rachel says:

While living in Argentina, I met some Dutch Jews who arrived after touring Paraguay and I went to Uruguay with them. I plan on visiting them and hitting up Berlin, my old stomping ground.

My step-family is from Brazil, I speak Spanish, and have absolutely no connection to Ghana.

The chance of me cheering for the winning team is very high.

Anyway, everyone knows that Argentina has a huge Jewish population, but Uruguay’s is still quite prominent in such a small population. Walking around downtown Montevideo, I bumped into a statue of Einstein, a plaza dedicated to Golda Meir, and coincidentally passed a synagogue in less than 48 hours (but then again, Montevideo is tiny).

The lead actor in Daniel Burman’s films, Daniel Hendler, is a Jew from Uruguay who portrays a Jew from Argentina. Tablet, looks like you could cover this for a story!

Sheesh, people, it’s a funny little article. I’m wondering about Tablet readers’ capacity to laugh a little here and there and not take EVERYTHING as a political manifesto. And I live in DC, for goodness sake!! Lighten up, folks!!

Pendulum says:

This Jew cheers for Germany. They play fantastic football, they have great team spirit, and guess what: none of the German players, and few of their supporters, were alive in 1945.

Germany has done an admirable job of coming to terms with its sins. My support of Germany is my acceptance of their apology.

squiggle says:

Good post, Pendulum.

And (to go back a few posts) I find it very hard (impossible, actually) to believe that any German town is holding a celebration of SS veterans.

Also, if you take this sort of thing seriously, do you really think it’s a good idea to tell some nations that all good Jews should dislike them? Some here are taking it seriously but at least they’re better than those who think ‘hehe, Nazis’ makes for a funny little article.

Hello again,
Here is an article by Khaled Hroub of Cambridge University about who Palestinians support
http://www.opendemocracy.net/khaled-hroub/palestinian-vuvuzela
Alon

Man, what ignorance. There are 200,000 Jews in Argentina and another 25,000 in Uruguay. Walter Samuel on the Argentine team is Jewish, and 2006 Argentine team captain Juan Sorin is Jewish, as was 2006 coach Jose Pekerman.

Uruguay’s most popular musical export Jorge Drexler, a nice Jewish doctor by training. Basically, if you’re basing your World Cup team choices based on pro-semitism, either Uruguay or Netherlands are fine decisions. Too bad they’ll be playing each other on the 6th!

Spain which beat the Netherlands for the World Cup, 1-0, had its former PM Jose Maria Aznar state: “If Israel Goes Down, We all go down”. Paella for everyone. I saw in 2 different games the Israeli flag being waved. Nice touch in S. Africa. Below is more of what is really going on too:
Subject: : “IS BIBI NEGOTIATING JERUSALEM AND NOT EXTENDING THE FREEZE ON SETTLEMENTS”? S

Long, but it sure builds as you continue reading…. Bob Kunst is really a dynamo!

——————————————————————————–

Subject: “IS BIBI NEGOTIATING JERUSALEM AND ALSO NOT EXTENDING THE FREEZE ON SETTLEMENTS”?
Message-ID:

Dear “Chosen” Activists:

I wrote a piece (below) the day before Bibi met with Obama and this piece below is my reaction since. Please see both issues on what is happening and what we need to do and what is missing. As I write this, Lebron James decided to come to the Miami Heat Professional Basketball team, which adds a major entity to our community and our activism. Perhaps a dynasty is also being created with this as we are doing in Jewish and American activism.

Yesterday, 7/7/10, Shalom International did its 308th rally to Keep Jerusalem and Israel United and to Fight Terrorism and to Support Israel, and 1204 news interviews since Oct. 2007. Thanks to Rabbi Fink and the Rabbi of Young Israel in Century Village, in Pembroke Pines, we had 50 elderly hold up 6 large banners and one older guy on a bike screamed at all of us that “Israel should be destroyed”. This was at 4 P.M. and by 5 P.M., 15 of us also got together on the corner of Pines Blvd. and the entrance to Century Village and we only got 2 negatives, but very many positives of horns beeping and one older gentleman driving over to us and giving us a $20 donation. Very nice.

Tuesday, we were at the Fed. Blvd. in Ft. Laud., with 25 on the day that Bibi was meeting with Obama and hopefully not selling ou

So what are you trying to say, Sharone? That all South Americans are Nazis?

Óscar says:

Well, operation paperclip took a lotta Nazis to the U. S. after “denazifiyng” them, so There you go…

Who would Werner von Braun be rooting for?

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