Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Underdog Effect

"Everybody loves the Underdog and  wants them to win, unless you happen to be playing against the underdog" Stephen K. Shaw

Today is Israel’s 66th birthday.  I remember an old story back when Assad’s father still ruled Syria with an iron fist.  He was so anti-Israel that when the nation’s school system received blow up globes of the world, he had his principals cut out Israel from the map as if it didn’t exist.  Of course the teachers couldn’t blow up the globe because the air kept escaping where Israel should have been.  The moral of the story is that the world wouldn’t exist without Israel.  Here is a link to 18 Israel inventions that just could save your life.  http://israel21c.org/health/18-israeli-inventions-that-could-save-your-life/?utm_source=Yom+Ha%27atzmaut+Newsletter&utm_campaign=Happy+TA&utm_medium=email

Yet, if Israel is so great, I wondered why so many people favor the Palestinians over the Israelis in the conflict?  Israel is certainly not perfect. Life under Israeli rule is hard and at times unfair.  We could and should do a better job as our tradition and the Declaration of Israel’s Independence demand of us. Nevertheless, Israel is a democracy where there is an independent judiciary. All Arabs can seek justice.  Israeli Arabs have the right to vote and serve in the Knesset.  An Arab sits on the Israel Supreme court.  There is a free and open press and the right to protest.  But living under the Palestinians rule nothing like that exists.  Everybody agrees that the P.A. and Hamas governments are corrupt.  Human rights are trampled upon especially if you are a woman or a homosexual.  Honor killings and murder of homosexuals are common place.  There is no right of assembly and free press.  Members of the opposite party are harassed and even out right murdered.  Palestinian terrorist have lobbed thousand upon thousands of missiles at civilian targets. Suicide bombers have killed innocent men, women, and children at bus stops, restaurants, discothèques, and even at a Passover seder.  Gilad Shalit, an army soldier, was kidnapped and the Red Cross wasn’t permitted to visit him during his years of captivity as allowed by the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately the list of these crimes is longer than I have time to share.  In other words the Palestinians are not always the best neighbors in the world to share a backyard.

Believe it or not the answer to my question can be found in this week’s Sports Illustrated issue (5-5-14).  I was reading the article “Long Shots” by Chris Ballard.  Upsets do happen in the NBA, but no league serves up fewer postseason upsets.  He writes,

“Why do we love upsets?  Plenty of social scientists have studied the matter. In 2010, Slate published a lengthy article citing the findings of this research-how, all else being equal 81% of us choose to root for underdogs; how once a presidential candidate is described as an underdog he or she is immediately perceived as more liable; how we naturally assign positive attributes to underdogs.
In the end it’s simple math: the more unlikely the success, the more rewarding it is.  And therein lies the frustration, and the allure….

No doubt about it.  The Palestinians are the underdogs and garner all of the world’s sympathy.  That’s almost ok with me.  I’d rather have the status of a strong, resilient, and thriving Jewish State in our ancestral homeland than being the vulnerable wandering underdog relying solely on the good will of others as we were the 2000 years before 1948. That didn’t turn out so well for us Jews especially if you remember all the expulsions, inquisitions, blood libels, pogroms, and the Holocaust.  Now is definitely better.