Saturday, February 4, 2017

Football Deplomacy

I am not usually into football. I keep thinking that half of the people on the globe are hungry, millions are oppressed and abused, and we are flirting with a climate change catastrophe, so, what difference does it make which way a ball bounces. Yet, I find myself interested in Sunday’s Super Bowl because it includes the New England Patriots. It’s not just that the Patriots have such a close tie with Donald Trump, but because Robert Kraft has such a close tie to Israel.

About 20 months ago, I wrote:

If you are concerned about peace in the middle east and seek security for Israel when the entire neighborhood is in turmoil, if you want to avoid a needless war with Iran, (a war  which we will not win), and if you are looking for someone with great negotiating skills and experience in understanding the needs and point of view of the other, someone with knowledge of the region and its history, someone known for diplomacy, then, where do you turn? 

Of course, you call on professional football players.  Who better to understand what it is  like to be ordinary people trying to survive in an oppressive situation than those who grew up and continue to live in what the news media calls a “culture of entitlement?” 

Robert Kraft, ultra Zionist, and owner of the New England Patriots led a delegation of 20 National Football League players to Israel where they met with Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister wanted an opportunity to explain to them why America’s effort to avoid a war with Iran is a dumb move.  It’s not that Netanyahu himself seeks a war with Iran where Israel would have to pay the price in lives and money, he is clear in proclaiming that he wants the United States to go to war with Iran. So, he chose the bright minds of the NFL to make his case. He put it in terms that even they could understand. Call it football diplomacy.

Iran is one yard away from the goal line. If they get nukes, the preeminent terrorist regime of our day will be armed with nuclear weapons.  Our effort today is to make sure that we block them and push them back. That’s the ultimate contest and the ultimate challenge, and I hope it was advanced somewhat by this visit.[1]

“I lead my life according to the four F’s – at least phonetically,” Kraft is often reported as having said; “family, faith, football and philanthropy.  This trip has connected all those dots for me.” 

I want to ask, which of these “dots” includes the right of Jews to steal land from the Palestinians, kidnap and imprison their children, take their water, blow up their homes and lock them up behind cement barrows and barbed wire fences? Which of his four f’s justifies the past and on-going war crimes committed by Israel every day?  Mr. Kraft needs another “F” word to connect his dots. It’s the word fairness. When I read that wealthy professional football players are recruited to influence US policy in the Middle East, the best “F” word to describe me is flabbergasted with an equal measure of fear.

Football is entertainment, but when it gets involved in foreign affairs, which causes so much pain to so many people, it is no longer amusing.  Mr. Kraft should stick to something he knows something about for when he gets into defending Israel, he has fumbled and somebody needs to blow the whistle on him.

William Slone Coffin said it well. “If what you think is right causes some one else to suffer, there is something wrong with what you think is right.”

Thomas Are
February 4, 2017

[1] Philip Weiss, Patriots’ Owner Brings 20 NFL veterans to Netanyahu who calls them to block Obama’s Iran Deal. Mondoweiss, June 22, 2015


  1. Israel flexes its muscles only against the defenceless; the more vulnerable they are, the braver it is, such as Palestinian children.

    Back in October 1973, it was on the verge of certain defeat and had to call on the US which airlifted equipment and personnel to the battlefront.

    It thought it could take on Hezbollah single-handed, but once again the Israelis were wrong.

    Therefore, Israel now relies entirely on the US and its western allies to fight its dirty wars.

    The agreement the US made with Iran was the benefit of Israel. Iran has no nuclear arsenal, but has the capacity to inflict devastating damage on Israel using conventional weaponry. What irritated the short-sighted Israelis is that the Americans for once did not abide blindly by the long standing obscenity where its whims are taken as commands.

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