A Jerusalem soccer team known for its right-wing fans was bought by an American who served on a dovish pro-Israel group’s board.
Dan Adler bought the team along with businessman Adam Levin, Beitar Jerusalem announced Thursday.
Adler, a Californian and the founder of a media-consulting firm, has served on the board of directors of the Israel Policy Forum, a nonprofit organization that promotes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He and Levin will assume control of Beitar Jerusalem from Israeli-Russian businessman Arcadi Gaydamak, who has owned the team since 2005.
Fans of the team, which plays in Israel’s Premier League, are known for their right-wing hooliganism. In recent years, Beitar has been penalized by the league for fans’ anti-Arab slurs toward opposing players.
The team has never had an Arab player. In 2009, after fans complained, the team’s captain apologized for saying that he would like an Arab to join Beitar.
The team noted in a statement that the two new owners are strong supporters of Israel.
“They made an investment in Beitar as a long-term investment, and they see it as a contribution to strengthen Jerusalem and Israel, rather than business investment,” the team’s statement said.
Adler had previously garnered headlines with a longshot run for the United States Congress. He received only 285 votes in his 2011 Democratic congressional primary but drew national media attention for a comical advertisement featuring an elderly Korean woman witth a thick accent who asked, “What’s a mensch?” Critics accused Adler, who is married to Korean woman, of promoting stereotypes of Asians.