Americans Save Jerusalem Soccer Team

By Yanir Dekel

A VERY INTERESTING STORY IS TAKING PLACE IN THE SPORTS SECTION of the Israeli news these days. Two Americans, Dan Adler and Adam Levine, have bought Jerusalem’s leading football team – Beitar Jerusalem – and according to all reports are going to invest a staggering $10 million in the team in the forthcoming soccer season.

Adler is a Los Angeles veteran of the new media and Hollywood film and television industries, while working as an executive for CAA and then as a vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering. He was a Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the special election to fill California’s 36th Congressional District seat. As of May 18th 2011, Adler received 0.5% of the vote, below the 50% needed to avoid a runoff election and behind Democrat Janice Hahn and Republican Craig Huey who will square off in the runoff election in July.

The interesting fact about Beitar Jerusalem’s new “situation,” is that the team’s advocates are known in Israel as very right wing. Very often you can hear them shout “Death to Arabs” in soccer games, as well as other racist chants. While Adler, a son of a Holocaust survivor, is a very left wing idealist, and is a regular donor to and other non-profit organizations that fight against racism.

During interviews with Israeli media, Adler mostly avoided politics, but said “I know Beitar has a certain reputation – or rather, that a portion of the fans has a certain reputation…We believe that Jerusalem is a city where all types of people must live,” and said, “We will change the character of the crowd.”

Beitar Jerusalem was once one of Israel’s wealthiest teams, but has suffered a series of financial and administrative problems in the last half-decade.
The last time the team won the Israeli soccer championship was in the 2006/2007 season. Adler and Levine’s goal for the team is to turn it into the Israeli equivalent of the American Boston Red-Socks. We should live to see *that* happen!

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