Avram Grant’s conflict of loyalty


West Ham manager Avram Grant is already battling to keep his club in the Premiership, having lost the first few games of the new season. So eyebrows have been raised at the revelation that Grant will not turn up for West Ham’s fixture at Stoke on September 18th, as the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur falls on that day.

Though he is not a religious Jew, Grant takes his racial identity as a Jew and his community’s ‘Day of Atonement’ very seriously, as this week’s Jewish Chronicle reports.

Until 2006 he was based in Israel where his wife still lives, and he still visits the country regularly. Israeli Jews are traditionally hostile to anyone in their community who fails to observe Yom Kippur, which begins with the notorious Kol Nidrei prayer (translated below):

All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘konam,’ ‘konas,’ or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.

Down the centuries (until political correctness made it strictly forbidden to criticise anything Jewish) Christians and Muslims distrusted Jews because of this prayer, by which it appeared that Jews were given divine sanction for deceitful conduct.

Some people at West Ham might find such absolution useful. Co-chairman David Gold (who made his fortune in the porn industry during the 1970s) admits that his father was a professional criminal who consorted with some of London’s most violent gangsters. While Gold’s fellow co-chairman and fellow porn baron David Sullivan was arrested by City of London Police in 2008 as part of an investigation into football corruption (though no action was eventually taken). Coincidentally Sullivan began his career working for Gerald Ronson, the Jewish tycoon who organised the ‘anti-fascist’ thugs of the 62 Group. (see H&D Issue 38).

A less fortunate Yom Kippur observant was the crooked businessman, active Zionist and Labour Party financier Sir Eric Miller, owner of Fulham Football Club, who chose the Day of Atonement in 1977 to shoot himself while under police investigation for his organised crime links.

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