Here’s one big Zionist reason to root for the New York Mets.
Last November 21, the Hebron Fund booked a reception room in the Met’s stadium for a fundraising dinner. The fund supports a Jewish presence in Judaism’s second holiest city, site of the Machpela (tomb of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, and some say Adam and Eve) and King David’s one-time capital. The Machpela is to Jews what the Lincoln Memorial is to Americans, except Lincoln isn’t buried there but Abraham is.
Enter the black smoke, the forces of Darkness, insisting that the Mets refuse to rent the room to the Hebron Fund. The Mets refused to buckle to the pressure, even as the pressure got ugly.
More than 1,000 letters and e-mails of protest — from radical Arabs and radical leftist Jews — were sent to the Mets. Eleven organizations called the Hebron Jews "racist" for living in the city where Jews have lived since Genesis. The Mets refused to give in to the pressure.
The Mets — owned by the Wilpon family, who are Jewish — issued a statement saying that the Citi Field, their ballpark, "hosts a wide range of events that reflect the diversity of our hometown and the differing views and opinions of New Yorkers," and Zionist New Yorkers Jews would not be excluded.
The enemies of Israeli neither slumber nor sleep. Abed Ayoub, of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, responded: "Tolerance for diverse beliefs should not include facilitating events for groups that break laws, and support racism and violence. Surely the Mets would not do business with white supremacists or anti-immigrant vigilantes. The Mets should follow those same standards in dealing with the Hebron Fund, and cancel this event."
Others warned the Mets that by allowing the Jews to rent the room they would be "facilitating activities that directly violate international law and the Obama administration’s call for a freeze in settlement construction, and that actively promote racial discrimination, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in Hebron." That particular letter was the most outrageous of all, considering that it was the Jews who in 1929 were the expelled from their homes in an ethnic cleansing, an Arab pogrom that The New York Times (Aug. 27, 1929) called "savage," while Palestinians never were forced to leave Hebron by anyone.
The Mets didn’t give in.
The war to ostracize Israel and return the Jew to the pariah status that led to the founding of Zionism in the first place is being fought on numerous battlefields — and in ballparks — of every profession, not only in the Middle East but in cities around the world. When the battle came to the Mets, the Mets stood up and the good guys won. It happened during the off-season, when there was no one in the grandstand to stand up and cheer. But it was a gutsy victory that deserves to be remembered and appreciated when other victories may be harder to come by.
Hebron was once a normal Jewish town, with Jewish banks and schools and Jewish children in the street, without fear, singing songs of welcome to the American ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, when he came to visit the Machpela in 1914. It was peaceful. But Palestinian peace can get get ugly in a hurry. If you’d like to see what life was like in Israel over the course of just two weeks in late summer, 1929, when there were neither settlements nor Israeli occupation nor Hebron Fund dinners, check out these headlines in The New York Times on Aug. 26 and four stories on Aug. 27 here and here and here and here, three on Aug. 28 here and here and here; then pick up the newspaper waiting outside your door on the mornings of Aug. 30 and Erev Shabbos Sep. 1, and Sep. 3 and Sep. 7. That’s a lot of headlines, but trust me — from Hebron, to Jerusalem, to Safed, to Jewish marches of support in the United States, to 20,000 filling Madison Square Garden — each of these articles is more fascinating than the next.