The Lord will be king over the whole earth. (Zech 14:9)

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Moral duplicity leading up to the World Cup

This week, Argentina were due to play their final World Cup warm-up match against Israel in Jerusalem. However, as the BBC reported, Argentina pulled out of the match after the recent Gaza violence due to the belief that the players “were not willing to play the game”. The reference to violence relates to recent clashes on the Israeli border in which 120 Palestinians lost their lives in May. This was a shocking loss of life and the action of the Israeli army does appear to be heavy-handed despite the insistence of the IDF that it was proportional to the threat posed by the protesters. However, analysing the right’s and wrong’s of these clashes is not the purpose of this blog.

Although this was just a football match, it is a perfect example of the loss of moral compass over anything to do with Israel. It especially raises questions when you consider human-rights records of other footballing nations competing at the World Cup:

  • Saudi Arabia has to be considered one of the most oppressive regimes on earth. There have been reports that 47 people were executed in one day, not to mention numerous other allegations of human rights abuses. Will the Argentinians be willing to play against this team if the draw works out that way? We suspect they will…
  • Egypt are also competing at the World Cup which is a country in which around 150 people were killed during an uprising against the government that was violently suppressed by the army. Would the Argentinians be willing to take a stand against this by refusing to play them in the tournament if needed? We suspect not…
  • Iran are also competing at this World Cup. Not only is Iran viewed as an oppressive country by human rights groups, it has openly threatened to ‘destroy Israel’ and will not even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Will the Argentinian football team take a stand against Iranian oppression of its own people and open antisemitism? We suspect not…
  • The World Cup is being hosted by Russia which ten years ago invaded Georgian territory resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths. Will the Argentinians be willing to make a stand against this by boycotting the tournament? Obviously not…

No doubt other countries could be added to the list above. Although the cancellation of this friendly match is a very minor example, it demonstrates cowardly opportunism and moral hypocrisy on the part of the Argentinian football team. Why punish ordinary Israeli’s in this way? We doubt they would even be willing to take a stand against oppressive governments such as Syria or North Korea, taking the view that football should be non-political and that football should be a celebration of the best of grassroots society. In fact, is there another nation on the planet that the Argentinian team would refuse to play against on humanitarian grounds? We doubt it.

This is nothing new for the Israeli’s – we have previously blogged on instances where professional athletes either refuse to compete or are forced to withdraw against Israeli competitors.

What is it that emboldens people to take a stand on the grounds of ‘human rights’ where Israel is concerned, but remain utterly silent and take no action over far worse examples of human-rights abusers and government oppression?

In our view, there has to be a spiritual dimension to this. It seems there is a default setting within the human race to treat the Jews (or the nation of Israel) by a different set of standards than anyone else – history proves it. There is an undercurrent of ill-feeling and hostility to anything Jewish that is irrational and rooted in a subtle (and not so subtle) antisemitism.

As Christians, it is vital to recognise this and make a stand against it. The Bible describes a time to come when many prominent nations will join forces in a major military offensive against Israel. We believe the worldwide vilification and political isolation that will pave the way for this conflict is well under way – it would be wise to stay well clear of this, both nationally and individually…

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8, emphasis added)

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