Monday, June 26, 2006

Watch the World Cup, Join the Army, get a greencard!

There is a lot going on, and a lot to say and write, including about how my talk in Congress went on Friday, and of course, recent happenings in Gaza. I'm going to digress for a moment for a World Cup post. Not to worry, it will weave its way inevitably into our conflict.

A lot of people in the Middle East are up in arms (no, no pun intended) about the fact that ART (Arab Radio and TV Network)bought exclusive rights to broadcast the World Cup for a whopping $300 million for the forseeable future. Angry, I say, partly because ART is a subscription only channel, while most other channels, includes the Aljazeera network (Aljazeera sports, etc.) are on the free-to-air network.

Now, the overwhelming majority of the people could not watch the World Cup unless they had this subscription service which costs $300 for the dish and reciever plus the monthly subscription fees for at least a year (or went to a public viewing area, such as a restaurant). According to this article in the Jordan Times, local Palestinian TV channels are re-broadcasting the games on terrestrial waves with ART's tacit approval (it has assured these broadcasters that they will not be sued...more likely because of the obvious futility of trying to sue us at this point than anything else).

It wasn't until yesterday that we realized we could watch the Mondial on ART America (which you can get on the Dish network). Up till now, we've been viewing it on the Spanish channel (hey, we can't understand a thing, but my sense is that what's to be understood? its football after all! the universal language! and when the commentator says "excellente! magnifique! GOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!" that's all I need to hear...). Of course, watching the World Cup in America, and footbal and the U.S., well, that's just another, very sad matter (its almost as though there IS no World Cup at the moment..with the cover of last week's Sports Illustrated about baseball, and this week's about the basketball).

There was one good column in SI about the matter by columnist Steve Rush (World's Right, We're Wrong). An excerpt:

"The average American eats three hamburgers a week, 16 orders of French fries a month, 25 pounds of candy a year ... and is profoundly uninterested in the World Cup. Soccer, it appears, is the only thing we don't want crammed down our throats. What does this attitude toward the World Cup say about the U.S.? It illuminates many of our least flattering qualities as a nation, not least of which is a breathtaking incuriosity about the rest of the world...Subliminally, our aversion may have less to do with red cards and yellow cards than green cards."


He goes on to say that a new Roper poll says two thirds of Americans between 18-24 can't find IRAQ on the map (you know, that country they're at war with)...and half cant' find New York City! That Ronaldinho is a victim of American bias against pony-tailed athletes. That soccer doesn't fit the American self-image of "ass-kickers", not "grass-kickers" (in another column, Rick Reilly comes up with his pick for the U.S. World Cup chant to replace the bland "U.S.A! U.S.A!": We are the Yankees! We are not afraid! You beat us tonight! Thursday, we invade!)

But I digress.

So, back to ART. Excitedly, we flip on the switch, and learn during commerical breaks that "the 2006 World Cup is brought to you buy the U.S. Army and the FBI", and are innundated with commercials telling us (us being Arabs) about the wonderful career opportunities available to us in the Army and FBI; how, if we join the Army, we could bring fresh water to thirsty Iraqi children (let's not mention that bombing part..too ugly for the camera); how we can be "a bridge between two worlds" because we speak two languages; heck, how we can all out "change the world". And-as an added bonus if you act NOW!- $10, 000 and a green card! Hoorah! Now I know what to do with my life!

Ok. Enough of that.

All of that, plus news of the kidnapping today, brought to mind a 1992 Israeli movie starring Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri, called "Cup Final" (Gmar Gavi'a). Its about an Israeli antique store owner/reservist soldier who is called to duty when Israel invades Lebanon in 1982 just as he is heading to the airport, tickets in hand, to watch the World Cup in Spain.

He is captured by a group of Palestinain fedaiyeen, led by Bakri, trying to make it to the Beirut, using them as bargaining chips. All the while, they both follow the matches closely by radio, sharing their love for soccer, and forming an obscure bond along the way. The Israeli learns a lot about their longing for a homeland, and sympathizes with them. The end is tragic, and leaves many questions open. Anyhow, it is an interesting movie, and it sort of came to mind today, though it is not necessarily. More of an interesting character study than anyting else, but def. worth seeing. And with that, I end my World Cup post.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jazakullah Kyri :)

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if i die for you ireal will you appreciate me?

about as much as jesus (pbuh)

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-2228519_1,00.html

7:00 AM  
Blogger Heba from Gaza said...

Dear laila ..I don't know what to make out of what’s happening .It is an absurd life with absurd equations. People die in Iraq everyday and what becomes important is not to watch, hear, analyze, or condemn (or act for that matter), but is to watch the World Cup .I observe my husband whilst watching the games and find it quite interesting how he cheers certain teams for whatever (I don't- know -what) reasons and shouts at the top of his lungs as if all our problems- in Gaza and the Arab World for that matter- are solved. Strange what soccer does to people and how it can turn to be stress -relieving in our case. I keep teasing my husband, saying that the football is a stress ball for us, being canned as we are!!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Laila. I am an Indian girl. I've been a regular reader of your blog for a couple of weeks now. I've read your old posts as well. I've posted a comment on your previous post, about the toot. Please read and reply. Thanks.

10:04 AM  
Blogger I love Munich said...

... two thirds of Americans between 18-24 can't find IRAQ on the map (you know, that country they're at war with)... and half cant' find New York City!

"U.S.A! U.S.A!": We are the Yankees! We are not afraid! You beat us tonight! Thursday, we invade!"

Are you really serious??? I am SO APALLED - the upper part represents BLATANT ignorance ... and for the lower I don't find words .. it is too disgusting! I HOPE this Rick Reilly is only a one-time weirdo without a large number of readers .. that by having come up with that garbage he made himself a disgrace, I don't think I have to emphazise!

I don't know where this is going to end one day - a HAPPY END it most certainly won't be, not for the Iraqi population who I highly sympathize with and wish only the BEST - NOR for America, who not only has to live with the guilt of having killed and mamed TENS of THOUSANDS of people, Iraqi AND their own ... and who will have to pay as well the financial bill for this war .. that is the coming 4-5 generations - that's for sure!

ALL THAT thanks to George W. ... I wouldn't want to be in his shoes!!

1:38 PM  
Blogger Abu Shaar said...

Insh'allah Fida made it safely back to Rafah (as safely a soul can be in Rafah, these days)

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

This is one of the funniest, most enjoyable posts you've written in a while. Thanks for the smile, and thank you, too, for mentioning a movie (Gmar Gav'ia) that also made a profound impression on me.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm happy that a soldier who could at this moment be tortured by terrorists brings to mind such a happy memory for you. Glad to see it makes you feel so good.

How unsurprising.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous saeed said...

i like how u said "Not to worry, it will weave its way inevitably into our conflict" in response to a comment on d last post by some anony that u link everything to d conflict. i say i like ur posting style, & yes, posting abt other random stuff that brings a smile on the face certainly helps, as it is necessary to smile once in a while, even in d face of adversity, even if just to maintain sanity.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila you can watch the World Cup games on ESPN or ABC with English commentary, though frankly I think I prefer the much more enthusiastic, if unintelligible (to me) Spanish commentary on Univision

5:51 PM  
Anonymous anonymous said...

This is the post you write when an Israeli soldier is in the hands of terrorists and is probably being tortured? This is the post you write when the Israeli army is poised to attack on your borders, unless you return Gilad Shalit?

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is a shame that you are forced to live in a country (the U.S.A.) in which you so despise the society and the government. Too bad your husband was not able to receive the education he needed to be an opthomologist in an Arab nation. I am sure he, and you, consider Duke University to be a "second best" alternative to an Arab/Islamic University.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Tater said...

Soccer--YAWN,

More power to the rest of the world if they like it, just hope it never picks up in the USA. Watching grass grow is more interesting!

Later

10:21 PM  
Anonymous claire said...

oh get a sense of humour I love munich, really now. all your passionate outrage is just getting so dull.

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not think that you were so anti-american, and one that so readily believes everything someone writes. There are dummies all over the world and in all countries (and not just in world geography). America is no different. Polls are pretty bad research material too.

Plenty criticism of the US, and it is so easy to do. I am sick and tired of foreigners who while utilising the opportunies there are in the US crumble on about how bad or stupid, or wrong, americans are. Look at the World around you. So there are stupid americans, there is no such thing in Arabia? Europe? Africa? Try Hockey or Baseball, football is a European sport that has been slowly catching on in the US but it is a true European Institution and tradition. I love our multiculturism and acceptance of all cultures, creeds and races. I could go on but I think I would bore you.

And this is not a racial issue, which I find is a card that is too easily used. I am just fed up by such comments.

Been to Jordan, wonderful people. And I do know that you are not from there (no pun or stupidity speaking)DS

1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What does this attitude toward the World Cup say about the U.S.? It illuminates many of our least flattering qualities as a nation,"

Well if disinterest in soccer is the worse you can say about the US, well, that's very flattering.

8:03 PM  
Blogger markis said...

hi. i found your letters here from the "times" article. and how very thankful i am. for speaking truth, your bravery, and sharing your love. i live in texas, but i, not unlike many many unspoken and unheard, stand in solidarity with you. "munich" writes about guilt for americans, of whom over the years allowed dirty politicians to move into place, setup camp, fortify in the original "$green$ zone" (interesting eh?), unleashing hell from behind it's walls. look, this is difficult for me to articulate as i'm not very intelligent, but i feel what's going on. it's painful, but it can be a very hard thing to identify from where this pain comes. but those suffering at the hands of what the rastas call "babylon system" are the true sufferers. here in the US, were are suffocating, and that is also very true and very real. i'm sorry for the long comment on your blog, but your writing strikes cords and really i just wanted to thank you, and may God be with you.

ps, i respond to this post, as i'm in love with futball, it's truly brilliant, and way beyond sport. i'm wonndering if most americans who despise the sport are really just afraid to love, and lose. i wonder.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We decided to tackle the subject of olympics sport because, till recently, it was so difficult to get sufficient, accurate information on the subject.

9:36 AM  
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8:42 AM  

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