Ha’aretz Spits at the “Mensches”

Japan beat Team Israel last Wednesday to eliminate the “Mensches” from the World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Nonetheless, Israel did far better than anyone thought possible.  Manager Jerry Weinstein and the guys were not expected to even qualify for the tournament and the odds makers pegged them at a 200 to 1 long shot to win the whole kaboodle.

Lavarnway, Freiman, and Zeid (Seoul, 2017)

Israel defied expectations by not only qualifying for the series, but making it into Round 2 until the Netherlands and Japan blocked their run in the Tokyo Dome.  Still, the guys did phenomenal and my poker-money says that they will do so again in 2021.

The primary question for those of us covering the Team Israel, however, is just what to make of their terrific effort?  Is there some larger meaning that can be culled?  Does the Mensche on the Bench, as conjured by outfielder Cody Decker, really have Kabbalistic powers?

I suspect not, but what is clear is that Ha’aretz – Israel’s version of the “paper of record” – is not a big fan of Team Israel.

One thing that I will always remember about this series, aside from the Mensche, himself, is the contempt of Ha’aretz for their own national ball club.  It’s a bit sad, but I never much liked Ha’aretz, anyway, because I am not “post-Zionist.”

While it is obviously true that not all Jews are citizens of the sovereign state of Israel, we are part of the nation of Israel because we are part of the Jewish people.  The very word “Israel” – whether Ha’aretz likes it or not – refers to both the Jewish State as well as to the Jewish people as a whole.  The general policy of the State of Israel since 1948 – and of the yishuv in the British mandate – was to hold Jewish people close as brothers and sisters as those of us in diaspora do likewise.

I am not convinced that Ha’aretz is quite on-board with this old-fashioned notion, however.

Once it became clear that Team Israel was doing well in the tournament – after their surprise upsets in the preliminaries in Brooklyn, New York, and then the amazing sweep at Gocheok Skydome in Seoul, South Korea – it was just too much for Ha’aretz.

In two articles attached to their rather flat description of Israel’s victory over Team Cuba in the first game of Round 2, Ha’aretz spat at their American bat-wielding brothers.

On March 9, Simon Spungin portrayed Team Israel as comprised of foreign usurpers and on March 12, Chemi Shalev did the same.

In At World Baseball Classic, I’m Rooting for ‘Team Nice Jewish Boys’ Spungin wrote this:

Sure, they’re Jewish and, by Israeli law, they could become Israeli if they wanted to. But they’re not. They are Americans and they have been brought in as ringers, plain and simple.

This is unjust, malicious, and the title oozes condescension.

The point of the World Baseball Classic is to promote baseball to an international audience. This is why any player eligible for citizenship in any country may play for that country and that is why we see Major Leaguers from the United States playing for teams all throughout the world.  In fact, Team Israel does not have a single player currently in the bigs, but this is not true for other countries who have non-national big league stars playing for their country.

In a September 28 ESPN article, How Israel made major progress at World Baseball Classic qualifyingThomas Neumann explains:

We know what you’re thinking. Why is a de facto Jewish-American all-star team representing Israel?

WBC eligibility rules are more flexible than those which govern most federated international competitions, including the Olympics.  By WBC rules, a player is essentially allowed to compete for a nation if he fulfills the criteria whereby he would be eligible to become a citizen of that country.  Israel isn’t the only country that benefits from this rule, but its religious status makes for a unique situation among WBC teams.  The nation’s Law of Return allows anyone with a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse to become a citizen.

MLB established this policy with the idea of growing the game globally. After all, a tournament where a handful of established teams crush inexperienced competition would serve as an insincere invitation to nations where MLB has growth interest.

Notice how much more kindly that ESPN is to Team Israel than is Ha’aretz. 

Is there any other newspaper in the world that represents itself before an international audience as the voice of that country that so fiercely attacks its own sports teams during international competitions?

I sincerely doubt it.

The WBC did not devise this rule out of some nefarious Zionist plot to rob more virtuous people from their proper baseball glory to the benefit of the Jews.  Someone needs to inform Ha’aretz that the WBC created this rule because they want to promote the game and hope to see it permanently reinstated as an Olympic sport, which is why the best players from anywhere in the world can play for any team so long as they are eligible for citizenship in that country.

I have never seen this before.

Why would Ha’aretz go after Team Israel if not to niggle at political divides between Jewish Israelis and their brothers and sisters in the diaspora?

In order to further delegitimize Team Israel on March 12 Ha’aretz published this gem by Chemi Shalev entitled, Why Stop at Baseball? Israel Should Also Recruit Scarlett Johansson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bernie Sanders:

We may view it as a natural expression of the eternal link between Jews and their Promised Land, but one can hardly blame others if they take a more cynical view of a baseball team that uses God’s Covenant with Abraham as a pretext for manning their pitching roster.

Tell me, does this just not drip with arrogance and condescension?

None of this, obviously, has anything whatsoever to do with “God’s Covenant” because the game – Billy Crystal’s cosmic baseball dreams aside – has nothing to do with theology.  I am no one’s idea of a rabbi, for chrissake, but I am pretty sure that baseball does not figure highly in Torah learning.

Cody Decker hugs the “Mensche”

The pitching roster reflects the team and the team reflects Israel and Israel reflects the Jewish people.

And that is precisely what Ha’aretz cannot swallow.

We all know that Ha’aretz pays money for antisemitic anti-Zionists like Amira Hass and Gideon Levy to retch hatred at Jewish people who do not toe their political line. For example, Hass actually believes that stoning Jews in Israel is “the birthright and duty” of Palestinian-Arabs.

So, while many of us have long understood that Ha’aretz is the toxic little Israeli brother of the New York Times, I never figured that they would actually hurl poison at Jewish ballplayers in order to get a kitzel behind the ear from New York.
As far as I am concerned Ha’aretz can go straight to hell.
It speaks neither for the Jews in Israel, nor for those of us in diaspora.

It speaks only for the Democratic Party which, itself, is neither a friend to the Jewish people, nor the Jewish state.

It might as well bring on antisemitic anti-Zionist and Democratic Party activist Linda Sarsour to decide its editorial policies.
First published at Israel Thrives

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  1. Stephen Darori

    The point Haaretz was making is that 5 members of the team were not Israelis or resident in Israel like Cody Decker.Cody Marshall Decker is an American professional baseball player who is currently a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He has played for the San Diego Padres in Major League Baseball.(Look at his Wikipedia Article)

    These 5 agreed to play for Israel for a 67.% share of the prize money + all expenses paid while they do .

    • This is false.

      The point that Ha’aretz is making is that Team Israel is not representative of Israel and, therefore, not really worthy of the name.

      The point was – in a small but noxcious way – to stick a finger in the wound between Israeli Jews and those of us in diaspora.

      Furthermore, the WBC has plenty of players on the 40-man roster in Major League Baseball, but Cody, although signed with the Brewers organization, is not one of them.


      As for what they get paid, do you honestly wish to make that an issue?

      What would motivate you to even bring it up?

    • Stephen Darori.

      Any prize money, Kurz says, would go toward building new playing fields in the large Anglo-Jewish communities around the country, not to themselves.

      • Stephen Darori

        Israeli Baseball Federation share of the prize money was $1,011,098.98 ….. they say they need $2 million to develop 3 baseball fields …. if you would like to write out a cheque for the difference .

  2. I wonder what Ha’aretz makes of non-Israeli lone soldiers in the IDF? Are they as welcome (in their eyes) as the baseball players that have just represented the Jewish State so well? The rules say that players must be eligible for citizenship of the country they represent not that they must be resident. So what’s their problem, anti-Israelism?

    • Ha’aretz has a problem with anything which everyone else thinks is OK. Provided of course that it comes from the left.

      • I agree, but isn’t it noticeable that many a Ha’aretz narrative is picked up by numerous western media outlets and turned into an outright anti-Israel narrative? Amazingly there also seem to be many in the pro-Israel online community that think Ha’aretz is somehow the Voice of Israel for some unknown reason.

        • From what I am led to believe John, Ha’aretz is not read much at all in Israel. What a shame that trash is accepted so widely out in the big wide world. The reason for that is that it is published in English. There was talk recently about it going under. Just hope that Soros doesn’t decide to back it up.

  3. Stephen Darori

    Lone soldiers become Israeli Citizens first before they start military service in Zahal ( IDF) …. that is the most basic requirement . Not one of the 5 Jewish Ringers , Mercenaries or whatever you call them became Israeli citizens . They were in it for the prize money and nothing else it seems ….. Cody is Jewish by virtue of his parents certainly are but hey ho no schande …. he is about to marry a shiksa in a Roman Catholic ceremony in June ….. seriously there was not a single Israeli borne player in the team that did remarkably well .

    ….and for the record I am no fan of Ha’aretz and its questionable political stand but yeah calling out the Israeli Baseball team for what it was ..is not not anti Zionist anti Israel or anti mensch ….. just reality

    • Jews Down Under

      We do not appreciate derogatory words like ‘shicksa’ being used on this website.

    • To become a citizen of Israel you have to be eligible to become a citizen of Israel, that is the most basic requirement. “Calling out” Team Israel is hardly pro-Zionist, pro-Israel or pro-Mensch, and it’s definitely not cricket…..

  4. Who would have ever thought that such a culturally enriched, and enlightened peoples such as the Jews, would have ever been drawn to embrace the very rudimentary North American red neck sports endeavour that was to be titled baseball…. i.e. basic ball…with a nobbly hickory stick….first played on and within the a lumpy gravelled paddock.

    Against the towering discernment of the Jewish people, and their protracted, if not forced association with the Empire….our most noble British Empire, it defies logical thought how a Jew….any Jew, could walk away from Wicket and Willow, and manicured lawnscape to slide across rough formed terrain to take the ‘kaboodle’…when and while Cricket presents the opportunity to secure a much more gentlemanly defining conquest…a Test.

    There is just no accounting for good grace, taste and and class…or the lack thereof.

    Just an observation from a bemused sideline spectator….who normally holds Jews up as one of G-d’s greater creations…along with that spiffing tactical game we all know as Cricket.

    • I agree on the cricket issue.
      The Yanks have copied and ruined almost every English sport. Let’s face it. Most games originated in the mother country.

      Rounders – Baseball
      Netball – Basket ball
      Field Hockey – Ice Hockey
      Rugby Football – Dreadful American football.

      They do play a limited amount of cricket and football (soccer) and most surprisingly haven’t ruined tennis.

      Graham as a whole we Jews are not a sporting people, though we do try!!

      • I get your drift regarding the cricket, but being much more of a footie fan than a cricket aficionado, I have to pay tribute to the numerous Israeli footballers who have graced the English Premier League over the last twenty or so years. And may I remind you all that domestic Israeli teams represent the Jewish State in various European Football Championships on an ongoing basis – albeit under the aegis of European rules that allow for the use of some foreign players, even non Jewish ones? 🙂

        • I was raised watching football. My father was a huge Chelsea fan. Today my love of it is only at Maccabi level!!!

          • I’m a Man United fan, Shirlee. Chelsea have Russian money behind them and we have American. Chelsea rule the roost at the moment, but I think United will recapture top spot again next season. ☺

    • My prediction is that in 2021 about half the team will be native born Israelis.

      Go Mensches!

      One need not be an American-born Jew to appreciate the inherent beauty, grace, and sophistication of the near-cosmic game of baseball… but it certainly helps!

      I think that you’re all just jealous.

      That’s what this is!



      • I hope you’re right about baseball, why not? But football (or, soccer as Americans like to call it) is so very well established in Israel that it’s questionable whether baseball could ever become quite as popular a sport there, but who knows?

        • You’re right. Who knows? Seeing as to how Americanised Israel is, nothing would surprise me..

          • It wouldn’t surprise me if Team Israel baseball took off to some extent, but to be honest I can’t really see it rivalling football domestically.

          • Stephen Darori

            https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/mar/10/israel-baseball-team-world-baseball-classic The Gaurdian calls the “Israeli” baseball team a ‘cute farce’ is that permissable Mr. Editor or will you outlaw that too along with the shiksa Coby Decker will marry. Yin June….. normally such a victorious Israeli Sports Team first call when they returned home would be the President’s Residence followed by a photo shoot with Netanyahu but hey ho whoops directly after their defeat at the hands of Japan they did fly home …… 5 key members back to the USA and the rest to Zion…….Mr. Editor ….. the word shiksa is as colloquial as chutzpah and telling me it is not a permissible word to use on your site is simply being a silly billie

      • Michael, a kid’s game ruined.!!!

        • Oh look, derogant little billie has thrown his colloquial rattle out of his pram. lol

        • What’s the word ‘Mensches’….’Mensch’ mean. Is it a Hebrew/Yiddish/Jewish word/term?

          • Hard, hate this on my phone.

            It’s Yiddish, and like all words in Yiddish, it all depends on context, how and where it is said. It is also the same word in the German form, where it is just a person.

            Literally a mensch is a person, but also means a good person, kind person, a person who holds ones heart.

            Like English, Americans have bastardised Yiddish too. I cringe at much of it.

          • Thank you Shirleee…that fits in; confirms, the context I again saw this word used/associated with in another separate article, since appearing herein.

  5. Stephen Darori

    A Mensch is a Yid who hasn’t been shiksarized …..

    • (Smile) Whew Stephen….what’s a gentile Celt suppose to make of that? Sounds like something you cook on a bar.b.que

      • Jews Down Under

        Apologies Graham for such a racist offensive comment. I hope it doesn’t happen again, if it does Stephen Darori will be banned from this website.

    • Jews Down Under

      Thank you Stephen Darori, NOT , for that derogatory comment.
      This website will not tolerate such language.
      Another such comment and you will be blocked.