First, a belated congratulations to Israeli windsurfer Shahar Zubari, for winning a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. He was the only Israeli medalist. But take a look at this new piece by Hartman Institute Fellow Adam Afterman, who pushes for an increase in funds and focus on sports in Israeli schools as he explains why Israel did poorly in the medal count in Beijing.
Ironically, the state which was founded on the commitment to create a Muskeljudentum (muscular Jewry), which produces generations of robust farmers and mighty warriors, has never learnt to appreciate the value of sports. Physical exercise and athletic prowess may be necessary on the battlefield, but on the football field they are completely superfluous, the luxury of the privileged few….
Israel is a society entirely devoid of a culture of sport, where courts and facilities are left to crumble away, unused; where physical education is considered the least important part of the curriculum, and classes are little more than a free period; where the only really popular sport is spectatorship, and the only form of competition is who can shout louder from the sidelines.
A few personal thoughts on sports in Israel and why we did badly two weeks ago – the Israeli Olympic Committee is considered badly run (at best), and Israeli Olympic athletes complained about not receiving enough funding or support – some were even training overseas. I have three children in Israeli public schools and can confirm Adam’s comments: School sports facilities and interscholastic sports are, in fact, virtually non-existent.