Abu Dhabi Sheikh buys 50% of “racist” Israeli football club

Sheikh Hamad (above right) with Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg in Dubai last week after signing the deal for Abu Dhabi investment in the “racist” Israeli club

A member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, has bought 50% of the Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem, pledging an investment of more than 300 million shekels (£68 million) over the next decade.

The Abu Dhabi royals already own Manchester City of course, as well as the likes of New York City FC, Melbourne City, and Mumbai City.

And their Israeli move is consistent with the decision earlier this year by the United Arab Emirates (which includes Abu Dhabi) to develop diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.

What will surprise a few people is that it should be Beitar of all clubs. Not only does it have a “racist” (i.e. anti-Arab) reputation, but even the club’s name is a clue as to its political roots.

Betar was the Zionist youth movement founded by Zeev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and it went on to be closely aligned with the Jabotinsky wing of Zionism and associated terrorist groups such as the Irgun. During the mid-1940s MI5 had an informant inside Betar monitoring the group’s terrorist links, and Betar organised terrorist training camps in New York’s Catskill mountains.

Betar activists in Berlin, 1936, during a period when the National Socialist Government actively encouraged militant Zionist groups.

Some other Israeli football clubs have names linked to the rival, more ‘moderate’ wing of Zionism led by Jabotinsky’s enemy David Ben Gurion and rooted in the labour movement – e.g. Hapoel Tel Aviv and several other clubs with Hapoel (i.e. ‘Worker’) in their names.

But then I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. These Arab sheikhs are interested only in power and money. Whereas the Labour/Hapoel types used to be the Israeli mainstream, and the ‘right-wing’ used to be marginalised – it’s now the ‘right-wing’ under Netanyahu and his Betar/Beitar allies who have the power.

Trouble is, that might not carry on for much longer, especially now that Netanyahu’s pal Trump is out of power. The Israelis might ditch Netanyahu and go back to some form of liberal/leftist government in the Ben Gurion tradition – in which case it would be Hapoel Tel Aviv, or perhaps Maccabi Tel Aviv or Maccabi Haifa, who would be the diplomatically correct team for kosher Arab royalty to link with!

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