May 28: Grant and the UK media

Grant had a fairly rough ride over here in Britain, but not, I think, for any anti-Semitic or anti-Israel reason but because the job was always too big for him.

jp.services2 (photo credit:)
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Grant & the UK media Sir, - Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant had a fairly rough ride over here in Britain, but not, I think, for any anti-Semitic or anti-Israel reason (other than among a certain section of supporters). Rather, it was the widely held view - with which I fully concur - that the job was always too big for him, that he only got it because he was a mate of Roman Abramovich's, and that he lacked the experience of managing at this very top level. The Israeli league (or, indeed, Israeli national team) doesn't begin to prepare or qualify you for this job; and, for those who understand the game to any degree, Grant's tactical naivete was often exposed in the big games that really mattered. It was also apparent that some of these top international players didn't sufficiently respect him or his judgment, for that same reason. He was also highly unfortunate in that he followed arguably the most charismatic and media-savvy manager in the history of world football, whereas Grant has the permanent expression on his face of a man whose dog has just died. But, so far as I have been able to judge, most of the criticism has been over his work and his CV, and not attacks on him personally. Indeed, increasingly over the last months, the press here has made much of his personal dignity in the face of all the furor, and his recent visit to Auschwitz to deliver a speech on Yom Hashoah won him much favourable press, a lot of it along the lines of "This is clearly a man with more in his locker than your average football manager." Much of the criticism of his performance has been tempered by an acknowledgment that he seems to be a thoroughly decent guy, and so I have no complaints over how he has been treated by the media here. Interestingly, his dismissal came in the face of a growing (if still minority) opinion that he had done enough to warrant another year in the job. If you ask me, do I feel sorry for him - yes, I do. Am I sorry that he's gone? As a Chelsea fan, no, for purely football reasons ("Grant's a winner," Letters, May 27). LEONARD LOWY London It's about Galilee Sir, - David Bedein's "The man who conquered the Golan" (May 27) was wonderful and refreshing. His heroic depiction of Galilee regional mayor Yankele Eshkoli and his demand that the Israeli government conquer the Golan to protect Galilee reminded us of what's at issue vis-a-vis Syria. The issue today is Galilee, which the Syrians feel free to bomb at will - witness the Syrian sponsorship of massive Hizbullah missile attacks on the area during the summer of 2006. When it comes to Syria, the question everyone should be asking is why would Syria not use the Golan Heights to pummel Galilee once again? SAUL PHILLIPSON Jerusalem Golan giveaway Sir, - "61 MKs back bill against Golan exit" (May 27) stated: "The proposed law would require a 2/3 parliamentary majority... at present the Golan could be given away with only a majority of votes." In other words, the most important issue concerning the shape and future of Israel could be decided without the direct participation of the people of Israel. With not one member of Israel's parliament directly elected by the citizenry, we have to sit back and just watch this drama unfold. I cannot think of a greater travesty of justice. PAUL BERMAN Shoham Sir, - Whilst in the current climate it might be wishful thinking to want a greater Israel, this does not imply that a smaller Israel is a good thing. History proves that every time Israel has made a deal with the Arabs, it has shrunk and more areas have become vulnerable to being hit by Arab rockets. Regardless of what deal Ehud Omert makes with Bashar Assad, what guarantees could he get that within a month of ceding the Golan to Syria there would not be 500 Syrian rocket batteries on it, pointing at Israel? DAVID LEE London Sir, - If one can think about Israel giving the Golan back to Syria, should not Poland give back the territory east of the Oder-Neisse line to Germany? Call it rewarding the aggressor. STANLEY LAWSON Jerusalem Sir, - It would be a mistake for Israel not to jump at the peace initiative with Syria. As we have seen, Iran's Ahmadinejad is terribly bothered by the idea, and if politics were like horse races and things went smoothly, I'd bet on Bashar Assad's swift elimination. The Syrian army gets trained in Iran by the Revolutionary Guard, and the Persian alliance with Syria is only one of strategic convenience. If Assad disappeared, the whole region, narrow-minded as it is, would finally have to acknowledge who pulls the strings. As a result, Hizbullah would lose its "Club Med." RYAN MARKOVITZ Richmond, British Columbia Is Reform worse than Coca Cola? Sir, - "Tamir encourages Reform education in schools" (May 26) stated that "In the past, the Reform Movement was perceived... as an import from America." I do not wish to argue the merits of Reform but to point out that "imports from America" may not be all bad. Is Reform worse than Coca Cola? For that matter, is Israeli Orthodoxy homegrown, or an import from Eastern Europe? Most yeshivot in Jerusalem retain their Russian, Polish or Lithuanian names - Mir, Slobodka, Ponevezh. Would that we imported more American democracy, religious variety and inventiveness. Best of all would be an import of American Jews to show that aliya is not for freaks, fanatics or failures but for people who want to enjoy a high standard of living in this country. Let Reform and other American imports stand on their own merit, or demerit. The mere fact of being "imported" should not invalidate a movement, idea or person from contributing to the religion, culture and economy of Israel. MENDEL MENDELSSOHN Jerusalem Playing with fire Sir, - I disagree with "Sore sights for eyes" (Letters, May 26) regarding the fires in Jerusalem's Park Gilo. This is not a disease of apathy, but of criminal negligence. There is a small field behind my backyard. Last week, when I saw children putting up wood for the traditional Lag Ba'omer bonfires, I went from municipal office to municipal office trying to enlist someone to take the wood away. Finally I faxed a letter to the mayor's office, together with an article from Yated Ne'eman in which the Bnei Brak Municipality pleaded with parents to rein in their children, and citizens to speak up if they saw fires placed too close to electricity lines, public buildings or private homes. While I finally got a reaction on Thursday afternoon - the head of the garbage department, a municipal agent and a fireman came down to see what I was talking about - it was too little and too late. Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. I heard the crackling of flames behind my house and rushed to put out a fire that threatened to burn down my backyard; all because those "responsible" parents who were supposed to have overseen Thursday night's festivities had neglected to put out the fires totally. NACHUM CHERNOFSKY Bnei Brak