Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Israel Will Be United in the Hope of a Miracle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Israel Will Be United in the Hope of a Miracle

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Bnei Sakhnin look as though they are in need of a miracle tonight but, as Luke Edwards discovered, they could not be in a better place to receive one.

It was during the first Iraq War, as Saddam Hussain's Scud missiles veered their way uncertainly, but menacingly over the Tel Aviv skyline that a phrase, rich in history, became a common component of Israel's self-image.

A total of 39 of the unpredictable missiles landed on Israeli soil as George Bush senior and America led an international coalition against the then Iraqi leader following his invasion and subsequent occupation of oil-rich Kuwait in 1991.

Saddam's attack on Israel was a vain attempt to unite the Arab world against a common enemy ( the alien Jewish settlers who, according to many Arab critics, had spread like a biblical plague of locusts since Britain and America first helped them create the nation state in the 1948 War of Independence.

It did not work and neither did the missiles, as they flew off target, missing the major military and government installations they were aimed at. Two Israelis died as a result of the Scud attacks, both indirectly ( a young child, whose mother forgot to remove the filter on his gas mask, suffocated and an elderly man suffered a heart attack during another bombardment.

It was, overall, a lucky escape which added weight to and re-ignited an old saying: "If you live in this part of the world and do not believe in miracles, then you are not a realist." This after, all, is the cradle of three religions ( Judaism, Christanity and Islam ( where stories of miracles are as relentless as the heat.

And it is this belief which will fortify Bnei Sakhnin's convictions that one of the biggest upsets in European football is still within their grasp.

A realist would already have written off Bnei Sakhnin's chances of progressing to the group stages of the Uefa Cup as soon as the Arab-owned side ( the first to play in European competition ( was drawn against Premiership opposition. …

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