Left-wing U.S. Jew buys Israeli soccer’s bastion of the right

A California Jew, who sits on the board of directors of the Israel Policy Forum, buys the most famous team in Israel, Beitar Jerusalem. Hopefully, he’ll do better in soccer than he did in politics… Running for office with the slogan “Send a mentsch to Congress”? I mean, come on…

Left-wing U.S. Jew buys Israeli soccer's bastion of the right
Teddy stadium, where Beitar Jerusalem plays (photo: flickr / Matthew Wilkinson)
Could this be the making of another Daniel in the Lion’s Den? Maybe, if calling him “Dan” is acceptable. Dan Adler, along with business partner Adam Levine, yesterday became the proud owners Israel’s most-famous soccer team, Beitar Jerusalem. (As far as I can tell, this is not the Adam Levine rock star from the band Maroon 5).

The club was owned until now by Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian oligarch who unsuccessfully tried to buy Israel (yes, you read that right). Beitar had one of its worst seasons ever last year, and just barely managed to stay in Israel’s premier league.

So, why is this a juicy story? Well, Beitar has for decades been associated with right-wing politics. Its fans are known to be the most racist in Israel, and that says a lot. They have been known to scream like monkeys when black players touch the ball, and chant “death to Arabs” when an Arab steps on to the field.

The people who lead these chants are usually fans belonging to a clandestine group called “La Familia.” This group has gotten Beitar into trouble a few times already, but they don’t really seem to care about the damage they do to their team. Although, they might care about Dan Adler taking over.

You see, Dan Adler, besides being a successful businessman and a not so good politician, serves on the board of the Israel Policy Forum, which supports a two-state solution. In other words, Dan Adler is a lefty traitor – in the eyes of La Familia, of course. The Walla! news site reported that one member of La Familia said: “We’ve been sold to the devil.”

More from Walla!:

“Will he bring an Arab player to the team? It’s all speculation at the moment, but they look like smart businessmen that wouldn’t do things without thinking.”

Another fan talked about the current manager of the team, Itzik Kornfein: “Until today, Kornfein fought racism but the crowd didn’t care, since he couldn’t threaten to go home – that’s exactly what they wanted anyway. Today there are owners who can threaten to go home if the racism continues, so the fans better play along.”

Walla! also reported that the official Beitar website says that the new owners “see their investment in Beitar as long term and that they will fight any kind of violence, racism or unfair play in the team.”

Will there be an Adler-La Familia clash next season? Could be. We might not even have to wait that long if the new owners start pushing the buttons of those short-tempered right wingers in the next coming weeks. Unless, of course, Adler can “stick together” with La Familia, the way he does with Koreans…