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Collingwood Zionist Magpies

April 23, 2013 – 6:46 pm12 Comments
Press Red for Ed

Press Red for Ed

By Alex Kats
Footy is the primary ‘religion’ in Melbourne. Whether passionately or otherwise, everyone supports a team no matter where they come from or what their other religion is, because it is sacrilegious not to. Of all the teams in the AFL, Collingwood is probably the most famous team, one of the oldest and richest clubs, and with undoubtedly the most passionate supporters. The Pies are the team that generally fans either love or hate – there is no middle ground when it comes to Collingwood, and thus they have the biggest rivalries in the competition, which also often attracts the largest crowds.

Yet despite their success, wealth, dominance and the passion of their fans, or maybe precisely because of these factors, many loyal Pies fans believe their club is unfairly treated by the media, and specifically by the commentators. Call it tall poppy syndrome or call it one-eyed blindness, but to combat this, this week the Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who is also a media broadcaster, did something that excited loyal fans even more and enraged the many passionate detractors. During the broadcast of a Collingwood game on Foxtel, viewers could either watch the game with the normal, objective commentary that Pies fans feel often has a deliberate anti-Collingwood flavour, or they could ‘Press Red for Ed’, where after pressing a button on their remote, Eddie and a few Collingwood legends, called the action with an unashamed Collingwood bias.

Surely there are many ethical dilemmas associated with this scenario that allowed Eddie to orchestrate such a commentary because of his many media roles, but that is an issue for another time. My focus here is on extrapolating the geopolitical ramifications for Israel, and surprisingly, there are some stark similarities.

We may not think of Israel being successful, wealthy and dominant in the same way Collingwood is, or in the same way America is in a global sense, but in some ways it is. It certainly has a long and proud history, and of all the countries in the Middle East, it is the only democracy, with a thriving economy, a relatively safe modern lifestyle and tremendous wealth and opportunity that breeds incredible ingenuity in technology and many other fields. Sure, Israel has its problems and issues, but for all intents and purposes, it is a Western country surrounded by countries that are very different to it, to say the least. Like the Pies, it has a very passionate fan base, both in terms of loyal Israeli citizens and Zionists across the world. And also like the Pies, people either love Israel or hate Israel – there are very few fence sitters. Luckily for Australia though, team support does not extend beyond the field, save for a few verbal sledges. Fans might scream and shout in the stands or at their TVs, but they will share a beer after the game and not let their passions turn into violence or worse. This is surely a lesson the Middle East can learn from the AFL and from Australia.

Eddie said he did what he did because he wanted to give his fans a choice against the perceived bias of the objective commentaries. Anyone who follows Israel knows that the media commentaries are rarely objective, and that is not even in dispute. Some people are so distraught about the coverage of Israel in publications like The Age or on the BBC (sometimes called the British Biased Corporation) that they don’t even read the papers or watch the news because they don’t want their blood to boil if ever Israel is mentioned. Others on the other hand follow the news voraciously because they want to see just how biased the coverage can be, and then some of them write letters to the various editors or find some other way to get enraged. From a Zionist perspective and especially in this week following Yom Ha’Atzmaut, it would be wonderful if one day the leader of the country could change the global narrative, much like Eddie did on the weekend. Unfortunately in global politics it is slightly more complicated than pressing a button on a remote. And even the ‘Press Red for Ed’ was at this stage a one-off feature that Foxtel trialled this week. What is more realistic and likely is that AFL and Israel commentaries will continue as they are, be it objective or biased, but it is up to us to pick out the truth and to see that every story has two sides, just like every footy match has two competing teams.

Collingwood fans know that despite what opposition fans might say, they will still be around and will continue to cheer loudly for their team, with or without all their teeth. They are loyal and passionate, and that is the way it ought to be. Zionists will also continue to cheer loudly for Israel, whether here or there, because we know we have a history, a heritage, a country and an identity to be proud of, and that also is the way it ought to be. We can argue about the intricacies and the details, but unless something drastic happens to change the current narrative, and something more permanent than a button on a remote, bias and subjective commentaries will probably persist and that is just the way it is.

Disclaimer: Alex Kats is a Zionist but not a Collingwood supporter.

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