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Who is an Israeli? One who succeeds

Op-ed: If you’re successful, in any field, we’ll call you an Israeli—even if the most Israeli thing you’ve ever done is eat falafel in Paris.

Team Israel celebrates its 2-1 over South Korea. Photo via Twitter (2)

From time to time, we wonder who is an Israeli, who is a Jew, what is a nation.

For example, people often say that the State of Israel is one of the leading countries in the number of Nobel Prize laureates. A short examination reveals that Israel is not even among the top 10 countries, neither relative to the population nor in an absolute manner of course. It turns out that according to both methods of calculation, Israel is in the 13th to 15th place. As long as all those who take pride in our Nobel prizes consider recipients who immigrated from Israel more than 40 years ago as Israelis too.

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Actors and filmmakers who are nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Palme d’Or or a Goldener Bär award are treated the same way. It’s enough for them to be nominated to be declared as Israel’s national pride. If they’re successful, they’re Israeli.

And what about the current national pride: The exit of driverless technology firm Mobileye, which has been sold to Intel for about $15 billion? Although there is a tendency to say that Israel is a high-tech power, that’s not true. Israel is a startup power and an exit power as well. The number of Israeli high-tech companies is very small, and even they are in the short phase between a startup and an exit.

Are companies that choose to sell themselves to foreign owners for cash entitled to be called Israeli? Is Waze, for example, which sold itself to Google, an Israeli company? Is giving up on being Israeli, whether in the form of an exit in a business firm or as the relocation or emigration of individuals, a source of pride?


800- Mobileye Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua Photo PR

So when we ask ourselves who is Israeli, and who is a Jew in general, we should take a look at the baseball team known as Team Israel.

Following amazing victories over four of the world’s best teams, Team Israel lost to the Japanese national baseball team last week and failed to make it to the semifinals. Nevertheless, its success was very impressive. And for those wondering how a country with no professional baseball league—let alone a reasonable Hebrew name for the game—managed to create such a good team, there is a simple explanation: They are not Israeli. Team Israel is made up of Jewish American baseball players who failed to make it into the US national team and decided to come together as the Holy Land’s team.

They got together, designed a logo with a Star of David, got uniforms and even chose a mascot called Mensch on the Bench. Apparently, they don’t know much about being Israeli, because when the anthem is played they remove their baseball caps and put on skullcaps.

The strange rules of the Baseball World Cup allow a country to include in its team players who are not citizens or even residents, but who are entitled to a citizenship if they want it. In other words, all those who are entitled to make aliyah under the Law of Return—even if they, their parents, their spouses or three of their four grandparents are neither Jewish nor Israeli—are permitted to represent Israel in the games.

Had Team Israel won, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev would have likely wrapped herself up with the national flag and flown to the Baseball World Cup final in the United States. Since the team did not make it to the semifinals, this whole story can be turned into an amusing, passing episode.

In short, at least one clear rule can be concluded: If you’re successful, in any field, we’ll call you an Israeli—even if the most Israeli thing you’ve ever done is eat falafel at a stand in Paris.

You don’t have to live here, you don’t need to have an Israeli citizenship, to build and be built, to be born and to die.

All you have to do is be successful.

By Ynet News

(Translated and edited by Sandy Livak-Furmanski)



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