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Monday, August 20, 2007

Bibi's newest gimmick

Tal Brody "put Israeli basketball on the map" as the Israel radio announcer told us this morning, leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its first European League championship in 1977 (pictured). Tal is an American who made aliya to play basketball, and stayed here when his playing days were over.
Tal Brody came to Israel to play basketball in the Maccabiah Games of 1965. He caught the attention of Maccabi Tel-Aviv team managers and Israeli government officials as he led the U.S. team to victory and the Gold Medal that came with it.

Tal didn't realize it at the time, but his love affair with Israel had begun. He tried to return to his life as one of the highest ranked basketball players in the U.S.A., but Israel was on his mind. It's no wonder since he was being courted and wooed by Israel's top officials, including Moshe Dayan himself, to return and help promote the sport in Israel.

Tal made Aliyah to Israel the following year and started planting the seeds that would produce the greatest Basketball team Israel had ever had. The attraction was mutual - we fell in love with Tal's outstanding attitude and he fell in love with the vibrancy of life in Israel, and what he felt he could do with it. This has been an on-going affair for thirty years now [now forty years CiJ] and his promotion of Israel has spread to legendary proportions.
According to his web site,
"Tal Brody has appeared before many distinguished groups on behalf of the UJA (United Jewish Appeal) around the world to promote living in Israel. He has hosted V.I.P. UJA guests in his home over the years from both the Prime Minister's Mission, and the President's Mission (the most prestigious). We are especially grateful for the wonderful Children's Sports Program that he introduced as a means of bringing the children of the missions and the Israeli children together. This single program did more to bring these children's hearts closer together than any other program in the UJA. These and many other special contributions by Tal were above and beyond the call of duty."
Ronit Dutan of the United Jewish Appeal in Israel (June/96)
By coaching and giving Basketball Clinics in schools, kibbutzim, development towns,and the army, Tal managed to reach over 200,000 youngsters with his "Let's Play Ball" program upon retiring from professional Basketball. The program touched the lives of thousands of Israeli children between the ages of five and eighteen. Children who were drawn to the sport that had every Israeli household glued to the TV set on Thursday nights watching Maccabi Tel-Aviv win one championship after another. These pictures of extremely happy children having the time of their lives say it all.
Israel Radio reports this morning that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu has asked Brody to run for the Knesset.

Tal Brody may be eminently qualified to be an MK. Or he may not be. We have no idea what his position is on any issue. We know that he's a nice guy and a decent human being. Why he would want to run for the Knesset at the age of 64 is beyond me. But all of that is not the point. Tal Brody isn't being run (and he's being run - not running) for the Knesset because of his positions on issues or his competence in any particular field other than playing basketball. He's being run for the Knesset because he is a sports hero who pretties up an otherwise boring Knesset list. Especially if Netanyahu is going to try to exclude the sparkplug named Moshe Feiglin from the list. In that sense, it's yet another low in the vapidity of Israeli politics.

The broadcasters tried lamely to compare Brody with former New York Knicks forward and longtime New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley (sorry Pennsylvanians and Kentuckians, they never heard of Jim Bunning here). The comparison fails miserably. I lived in New Jersey for eight years and in the New York City area for fifteen years in a seventeen-year stretch, and I am willing to bet that 80% or more of the voters under the age of 40 don't remember that Bradley played for the Knicks. It's more likely that they remember that he was a Rhodes Scholar and a Princeton graduate. It's even more likely that they voted for or against him because of his stand on the issues. In all of Bradley's Senate campaigns I never heard the Knicks even mentioned.

Tal Brody is being run for the Knesset as "former basketball star" Tal Brody. If he weren't a former sports star, no one would ask him to run. And that's exactly what's wrong. I guess this is what Netanyahu had in mind when he
spoke of recruiting "moderates into the party's leadership from the business sector, academia and former IDF generals." I'm not impressed.

I wonder if Caroline Glick will be next. At least we know where she stands on the issues.


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