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(JTA) — Good afternoon, sports fans!
I hope you’ve all been staying warm and dry during this week’s winter weather. If it’s any consolation, pitchers and catchers begin to report three weeks from today. Spring is just around the corner!
Who’s next to join Koufax and Greenberg in Cooperstown?
Only two Jewish players, Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are no Jews on this year’s ballot — the results of which will be announced on Tuesday — and it’s been 11 years since any Jewish player (Shawn Green) received any votes.
That could all change soon.
Ian Kinsler and Ryan Braun are set to appear on the ballot over the next two years. And active stars Alex Bregman and Max Fried are amassing records on the field that could vault them into the Hall conversation down the road.
So who’s got the best shot to be next? Are any of the aforementioned players worthy?
To find out, I reached out to a number of Jewish baseball writers and experts, including two Hall of Fame voters, to get their predictions. Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark, Jonathan Mayo and others weighed in.
RE-ICED. The International Ice Hockey Federation has reversed its decision to bar Israel from next week’s youth world championships in Bulgaria, part of which Israel was originally supposed to host. The IIHF’s initial decision to remove Israel — a call the governing body said was made in the interest of safety — drew criticism from hockey leaders in Israel and “concern” from the NHL.
NOT A FAN. Maccabi Haifa will play a Belgian soccer club next month in front of an empty stadium. The team’s Feb. 21 match against KAA Gent, which will be played in Ghent, Belgium, will have no fans because of safety concerns.
COLD TURKEY. Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel was detained in Turkey this week, where he plays for the top-tier Antalyaspor club, after he made a public gesture to mark 100 days since Oct. 7. Jehezkel was suspended from his club, which has said it will terminate his contract, and is now back in Israel.
CRICKETS FOR TEEGER. An executive at the South Africa headquarters of the sportswear company Diadora said the company would not sponsor any events including David Teeger, the Jewish cricket player who was stripped of his position as captain of the country’s Under-19 national team last week over anti-Israel protests against him.
TO THE NINES. Each offseason, MLB Network ranks the top 10 players at each position, and so far, two Jewish players have made the cut: Zack Gelof and Max Fried were named the ninth-best second baseman and starting pitcher, respectively. The third baseman list will be announced Jan. 31 and is likely to feature Alex Bregman, who was ranked sixth last year.
“B.Y.-JEW.” Jewish quarterback Jake Retzlaff — who we featured on our list of 36 Jewish Student Athletes to Watch — has made waves at Brigham Young University, where he’s one of only seven Jewish students. Retzlaff spoke with Haaretz about his experience as a Jewish player at the Mormon university.
RAISING THE BAR. Former Olympian Aly Raisman is joining ESPN as an analyst on its NCAA gymnastics broadcasts, where she’s set to make her debut today. “I’m so excited,” Raisman told People Magazine. “If I’m being honest, I’m also very nervous because I want to do a good job.”
Jews in sports to watch this weekend
A.J. Dillon is the lone Jewish player still standing in the NFL playoffs. His Green Bay Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. ET on Fox. Dillon, who did not play last week, is currently listed as questionable for the game due to injuries.
Deni Avdija and the Washington Wizards host the San Antonio Spurs Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and the Denver Nuggets Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. Amari Bailey and his G League team, the Greensboro Swarm, face the South Bay Lakers Saturday at 8 p.m. E.T.
Goalkeeper Yaniv Perets, who made his NHL debut on Monday, and his Carolina Hurricanes host Jake Walman (who has missed time this week with an illness) and the Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7 p.m. ET, and the Minnesota Wild Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. Luke Hughes and the New Jersey Devils face the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight and host the Dallas Stars tomorrow, both at 7 p.m. ET. Star Jack Hughes remains sidelined with an upper-body injury. In the PWHL, Aerin Frankel and Kaleigh Fratkin and the Boston squad host Abbey Levy and the New York team tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Daniel Berger returns to action this weekend at The American Express PGA tournament. The 30-year-old hasn’t competed since he missed the cut at the 2022 U.S. Open because of a back injury. Ben Silverman, who finished tied for 18th at last week’s Sony Open, and David Lipsky are also at the tournament in La Quinta, California.
Wrestlemania in Israel
Students from Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Skokie, Illinois, visited Israel earlier this month, participating in volunteer projects and competing alongside the Israeli national and Olympic wrestling team in Beersheva. (Courtesy of Ida Crown Jewish Academy)
The post The Jewish Sport Report: Who’s the next Jewish MLB Hall of Famer? We asked the experts. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Amid Security Fears, Muslim Access to the Temple Mount During Ramadan Will Be Limited
i24 News – As the month of Ramadan approaches, concerns over security have prompted Israeli authorities to implement limitations on Muslim access to the Temple Mount site, and Al-Aqusa Mosque.
The decision, made in accordance with recommendations from the Minister of National Security Ben Gvir, comes amidst opposition from the Minister of Defense Gallant, Shin Bet, and the army.
The restrictions include a cap on the number of individuals permitted to enter the site, with additional sorting based on age. While the details regarding the authorization of Palestinians from East Jerusalem are pending, the implementation of security measures proposed by Itamar Ben Gvir, which would allow security forces to intervene in response to provocative behavior, was rejected.
Under the current plan, only Muslim pilgrims aged 60 or above with permits issued by the Shin Bet will be granted access to the Temple Mount. However, domestic intelligence agencies have expressed reservations, fearing that such restrictions could exacerbate tensions and fuel Hamas’s rhetoric about Israel’s intentions to seize the site and deny Muslims access.
This sentiment was echoed by Walid Al-Huashla, an Arab MP from the Ra’am party, who condemned the decision as dangerous and racist. Al-Huashla warned of the potential consequences of the measures, accusing Prime Minister Netanyahu of capitulating to provocateurs and exacerbating tensions in Jerusalem.
The post Amid Security Fears, Muslim Access to the Temple Mount During Ramadan Will Be Limited first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Unopened Medicine Boxes Bearing Names of Israeli Hostages Found in Hospital Raid
i24 News – The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet forces executed a strategic mission at Nasser Hospital in Gaza, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of terrorists and the discovery of a cache of weapons hidden within the hospital premises.
Prior to entering the hospital complex, the forces engaged in intense battles, including face-to-face combat and repelling rocket fire from within the hospital compound.
The forces apprehended numerous terrorists and terror suspects who had sought refuge within the hospital including individuals linked to the October 7th massacre. These individuals were subsequently transferred to security forces for further investigation.
IDF releases footage of soldiers uncovering unopened boxes of medicine in Al-Nasser Hospital that were meant to be transferred to Israeli hostages – some of which should have been refrigerated but was found sitting out. pic.twitter.com/wWAJqvmEz4
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 18, 2024
During the operation, a substantial quantity of weapons was seized, with some weapons concealed in a vehicle believed to have been used in previous terrorist attacks. Additionally, a vehicle belonging to Kibbutz Nir Oz, which had apparently been stolen, was recovered from the hospital vicinity.
IDF forces also discovered un-opened boxes of medicine bearing the names of Israeli hostages. The packages were found sealed and undistributed, raising concerns about the previous breached agreement in which Qatar would distribute medicine for the chronically ill hostages.
The medical assistance includes essential treatments such as inhalers for asthma patients, medications for diabetics, insulin injections, glucometers, medications for heart disease and blood pressure, as well as treatments for intestinal infections and thyroid gland imbalances.
During talks, Qatar had committed to providing verifiable proof to Israel that the medications will indeed reach the hostages. However the IDF finding the France-sent boxes with medicine, indicates the never reached the hostages.
The post Unopened Medicine Boxes Bearing Names of Israeli Hostages Found in Hospital Raid first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The Myth of British Exceptionalism
JNS.org – That old image of the Jewish family with a packed suitcase at the ready in case they are compelled to suddenly leave their home has returned with a vengeance across Europe.
In France and Germany, home to sizable Jewish communities, the “Should we leave?” debate is raging in earnest. Both of these countries experienced record levels of antisemitic incidents in 2023, most of them occurring after the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in southern Israel. Similar conversations are also being held in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium and Spain—countries with tiny Jewish communities that are nevertheless enduring a painful rise in antisemitism.
What about Britain, though? It’s a pertinent question insofar as there has always been a “British exceptionalism” with regard to the continent. During World War II, the Nazis failed in their quest to conquer the British Isles, in contrast to the rest of Europe. After the defeat of Hitler, the British supported efforts to transform Europe into an economic and political community that eventually became the European Union, even joining it. Yet Britain was never fully at peace with its identity as a European state, and as is well known, the “Brexit” referendum of 2016 resulted in the country’s full-fledged withdrawal from the European Union.
When it comes to antisemitism, however, Britain is very much part of the European rule, not the exception. Again, that’s important because while the British don’t deny that antisemitism is present in their politics and culture, they don’t believe that it’s as venomous as its German or French variations. “It is generally admitted that antisemitism is on the increase, that it has been greatly exacerbated by the war, and that humane and enlightened people are not immune to it. It does not take violent forms (English people are almost invariably gentle and law-abiding),” wrote George Orwell in an essay, “Antisemitism in Britain,” penned towards the war’s close in April 1945.
At the same time, Orwell conceded that British antisemitism was “ill-natured enough, and in favorable circumstances, it could have political results.” To illustrate this point, he offered a selection of the antisemitic barbs that he had encountered over the previous year. “No, I’ve got no matches for you. I should try the lady down the street. She’s always got matches. One of the Chosen Race, you see,” a grumpy tobacconist informed him. “Well, no one could call me antisemitic, but I do think the way these Jews behave is too absolutely stinking. The way they push their way to the head of queues, and so on. They’re so abominably selfish. I think they’re responsible for a lot of what happens to them,” a “middle-class” woman said. Another woman, described by Orwell as an “intellectual,” refused to look at a book detailing the persecution of Jews in Germany on the grounds that “it will only make me hate them even more,” while a young man—a “near-Communist” in Orwell’s description—confessed that he had never made a secret of his loathing of Jews. “Mind you, I’m not antisemitic, of course,” he added.
I’d wager that were Orwell to tackle the same subject today, he would write a similar essay. The rhetoric he quotes echoes eerily in what we are hearing almost 80 years later, particularly the denial that recycling antisemitic tropes makes one an antisemite, as well as the digs against chosenness—because antisemites have never understood (or don’t want to understand) that Jewish “chosenness” is not about racial or ethnic superiority, but a duty to carry out a specific set of Divine commandments.
Last week, the Community Security Trust (CST), a voluntary security organization serving British Jews, issued its annual report on the state of antisemitism in Britain. The CST has been faithfully issuing these reports since 1984, and over the last few years, it has regularly registered new records for the number of offenses reported. 2023 was the worst year of all; there were a stomach-churning 4,103 incidents reported—an increase of 81% on the previous annual record in 2021, when 2,261 incidents were reported (largely due to that year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas for 11 days in May).
Instructively, the worst month in 2023 was October, in the days immediately following the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists on that black day. Oct. 11 was, in fact, the worst day, with 80 incidents reported. As the CST pointed out, “[T]he speed at which antisemites mobilized in the U.K. on and immediately after Oct. 7 suggests that, initially at least, this increase in anti-Jewish hate was a celebration of the Hamas attack on Israel, rather than anger at Israel’s military response in Gaza.”
Of course, the present situation in the United Kingdom differs from Orwell’s time for two main reasons. Firstly, in 1945, there was no Jewish state, and antisemitism revolved around cruder tropes invoking supposed Jewish rudeness, clannishness, financial power and so forth. (Even so, Britain was also one of the first Western countries to experience antisemitic rioting linked to the Zionist movement and Israel; in 1947, after two British officers in Mandatory Palestine were executed by the Irgun, or “Etzel,” resistance organization, violence targeting Jewish communities broke out across the United Kingdom, thereby establishing the principle that all Jews, everywhere, are to blame for the alleged evils of Zionism.)
Secondly, in 1945 Britain was still largely a white, Christian society. In the interim, it has become far more diverse and is now home to nearly 4 million Muslims who constitute 6.5 percent of the population. Since the late 1980s—when the Iranian regime issued a fatwa calling for the death of the Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie, alleged to have slandered Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses—what was once a relatively docile population has become politically animated, with the Palestinian cause pushed front and center.
In the four months that have passed since the Hamas atrocities, with weekly demonstrations in support of Hamas in London and other cities, Muslim voices have been disproportionately loud in the opprobrium being piled not just on Israel, but on those Britons—the country’s Jewish community—most closely associated with the Jewish state. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every Muslim, and many of the worst offenders are non-Muslims on the left. Indeed, the Oct. 7 massacres have enabled the return to politics of a particularly odious individual whom I had forlornly believed had been banished to the garbage can of history; George Galloway, an ally of Hamas and one-time acolyte of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who is standing in the forthcoming parliamentary election in the northern English constituency of Rochdale for an outfit called the “Workers Party of Britain,” whose manifesto combines nationalism and socialism, but which would probably balk at the description “national socialist” in much the same way that some antisemites balk at the description “antisemitic.”
British Jews have weathered a great deal in recent years, especially the five years when the Labour Party, the main opposition, was led by the far-left Parliament member Jeremy Corbyn, who has since been turfed out of the party by his successor Sir Keir Starmer. Having survived that, the belief has spread that they can survive anything. But there’s another question to be asked: Is the effort worth it? Increasingly, and worryingly, growing numbers of British Jews are now answering “no.”