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What it means to be proud

August 18, 2016 Joshua Pomerance
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‘England ‘till I die, I’m England ‘till I die, I know I am, I’m sure I am, I’m England ‘till I die’

Some of us will have travelled the country, or perhaps even the world, and heard this song being sung at England football games. Many more of us will have heard it being sung whilst watching the game on television. As the first international break in the season approaches I wanted to take a look at this song and what the people who sing it can teach us.

Clearly, without much need for any in depth analysis, when you sing this song you are attesting to the support and pride you have for your national country, in this case, England. However, is that really true? Did all the fans that sung this song at the Euro’s in 2004 agree with the UK Government’s action in Iraq in 2003? Do the thousands of fans who spend hundreds of pounds following the England national football team around the world truly agree with the measures of austerity that have been put in place? Could it be that no one who sings this songs thinks that increased spending in the NHS would create an improved service? Perhaps, using sport as our example, we could be enlightened as to what it really means to support your country.

On many occasions when discussing Israel I hear people use phrases like; ‘I would support Israel but do you know what they did last summer?’, ‘I support the idea of Israel but the country it has become is not something I can support’ or maybe ‘I love the country and the land of Israel but the government is an embarrassment to me.’ Now, I am not here to disprove those statements or to tell you that some of the underlying issues that they refer to are not important, however, I would like to present a different rhetoric. One which shows unconditional love for the country we adore.

We are approaching Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, three days in the Jewish calendar that prove that no person is perfect. In fact, in Kohelet (7:20) we read ‘For there is not a righteous person upon earth, that does good, and does not sin’. Just as no individual is completely perfect, so to no collection of individuals can act perfectly the whole time. It would be naïve to say that you agree with everything that everyone in any society or any government does. Our support for Israel does not have to be, and in fact must not be, dependant on the actions of one, two or a whole group of people acting on behalf of the country. You may not support the actions of the Israeli government towards Chareidim, or their policies on dealing with terrorists or dealing with the Yishuvim in Yehuda V’Shormon. You might not like the things that Bibi Netenyahu, Naftali Bennet, Tzipi Livni or anyone in any representative position of the country says, however, these disagreements in policies and outlook do not have to have an impact on the way you view and the support you give to our homeland, Israel.

Disagreeing with aspects of policy or aspects of the country does not mean you don’t support the country as a whole and similarly, vice versa, standing up and shouting ‘I support Israel’ does not necessarily mean you agree with every aspect of the country.

We all know that Israel has enough critics around the world to highlight any and all concerns that we may have over the country, so perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of the England national football team’s fans and shout out loud in support of Israel. Sport has a unique way of brining people together and causing them to forget outside troubles. If we let the ‘spirit of sport’ spill over in to our everyday support of Israel, we might find that those phrases of qualification when discussing Israel become a thing of the past. We will be able to stand in support of our country with the implicit and mature understanding that many issues and subjects are complicated and multi-faceted and cannot come down to a simple yes or no response.

In this vain, as the Israeli national team prepare to travel to Wales for their Euro 2016 qualifying match, we can sing out loud ‘El El Yisrael’ in support of the Jewish homeland, Israel.

Joshua Pomerance
Executive Director of Mizrachi UK

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