There are many issues that divide Americans along ideological lines (abortion, gay rights and taxes, to name a few). But there are two divisive issues that share a lot of common ground, especially here in the Windy City: Israel and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Both Cutler and Israel wield significant weapons that very few opposing forces can match. The Bears have Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, while Israel has nukes. And while they both have explosive capabilities (pun intended), they each have a safety blanket to protect them should their weapons fail them. For Cutler, it is the Bears’ defense, which has looked dominant the last couple years with the addition of Julius Peppers. For Israel, they have the United States of America, which has looked dominant for the last century after winning two World Wars and defeating the Soviet Union.
The major weakness for both Israel and Cutler is their location. Israel is in the Middle East, surrounded by Muslim nations, many of whom are not friendly and support anti-Israel terrorist organizations. Cutler is located behind his offensive line, which has allowed more 300-pounders through than a Walmart on Black Friday. Both Cutler and Israel are in constant fear of enemy attack, but rockets and suicide bombers are a slightly more dangerous threat than defensive linemen (although the Israel Defense Forces have never had to defend against Ndamukong Suh). And since the Bears drafted offensive lineman Gabe Carimi in last year’s NFL Draft, both Israel and Cutler are being protected by strong Jewish men.
Many people excuse the decisions of Israel and Cutler based on their security threats. Israel has the right to take aggressive actions against Palestinian rocket strikes because if they were to let them go unpunished, the hostile countries surrounding Israel may begin to do the same. Cutler has the right to throw risky passes because his offensive line isn’t giving him enough time in the pocket to find receivers downfield. If they don’t engage in aggressive behavior, they will be in danger of being attacked by their enemies.
These are legitimate excuses. I don’t think anyone would argue that Israel is in an ideal geographic location, and few football fans would want to trade their team’s offensive line for the Bears’ line. Heck, some high schools wouldn’t want to trade offensive lines with the Bears.
The problem is both Cutler and Israel represent threats to their security blankets. The Bears’ defense can force as many turnovers as it wants, but if Cutler continues to force passes between defenders, then all their hard work is for naught. And if Israel continues to expand settlements into Palestinian territories and air strike the Gaza Strip, they are going to encourage more anti-Israel sentiment in the Middle East, which will also lead to more anti-U.S. sentiment.
And this would still not be a problem if they would act appreciatively. Cutler never seems involved in the team or the game. He looks disinterested and bored. He shows no gratitude to his teammates or the fans. He’s the starting quarterback of a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, and he acts like he’s starting on the Dolphins.
And Israel never acknowledges how important America’s influence is on its security. In a region where everyone hates it, Israel is able to survive because Uncle Sam is always a phone call away to keep the bullies at bay. But that doesn’t keep Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from criticizing President Barack Obama for not setting clear parameters on using a military actions against Iran, and then threatens to do it himself. In other words, Netanyahu is saying the United States isn’t supporting him enough, so he’s going to have to go to war with Iran himself using the airplanes, tanks, guns and supplies that America gave to Israel.
Israel and Cutler will always be lightning rods of criticism if they continue to act with a cavalier attitude. They need to be team players. Yes, they are in less than ideal situations, but they will always have their security blanket to prevent any real harm.
If these two powers can get their act together, an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and Super Bowl victory may be within their reach.