Iranian President Kicks Up World Cup Storm

By Forward Staff and JTA

Published June 16, 2006, issue of June 16, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

For months some Jewish organizations and communal leaders in America and Europe have been protesting the prospect of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attending the World Cup in Germany.

The argument is that Germany is no place for a leader who denies the Holocaust and calls for Israel’s disappearance. Ahmadinejad doesn’t necessarily agree.

Iran has been sending mixed signals about the president’s plans, with the latest word being that he would show up if his country’s team makes it out of the qualifying round (unlikely after being drubbed 2-0 by Mexico).

German politicians and leaders of the country’s Jewish community felt no need to wait for Ahmadinejad to make up his mind. They joined about 1,000 people at a rally in the city of Nuremberg before the game against Mexico to protest his Holocaust comments.

German Jewish leaders — including the newly elected president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany — are suggesting that the Iranian president should not enjoy traditional diplomatic immunity should he decide to come to Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime.

However much the Shmooze sympathizes with the anti-Ahmadinejad fever, we wonder if all the efforts to keep him away from the world’s most popular sporting event are misguided.

Ever since Ahmadinejad’s election last year, America and its Western allies have been struggling to settle on a clear strategy for dealing with the confrontational leader, especially as he seems bent on a showdown over Tehran’s nuclear program and establishing himself as the leader of the Muslim world.

As it turns out, according to the translation service Memri, a Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia recently warned that watching soccer could be hazardous to your metaphysical health. Instead of protesting, maybe Jewish groups should be getting the Iranian leader front-row tickets to all the games.

But enough about Ahmadinejad.

David Beckham, probably the greatest Jewish soccer player ever, was responsible for the lone goal in England’s 1-0 victory over Paraguay on June 10.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel:
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.