Posted by: Steve Coplan | June 19, 2006

Funny, he doesn’t look Jewish….

In a curious twist to Ghana’s thrilling win over the Czech Republic that has drawn hyperbolic comparisons with the day the country gained independence, full back John Pantsil who “plies his trade” for Hapoel Tel Aviv currently and formerly Maccabi Tel Aviv whipped out an Israeli flag he had kept in his sock and waved it in front of the camera’s after the team’s second goal. Pantsil is one of three players in the Ghana squad who play for teams in Israel, like Ashdod and Kfar Sava.

It’s sure to prove controversial, as this acrimonious exchange illustrates. Since Ghana beat South Africa to qualify and is the one African team that stands the best chance to advance to the next round, I hope FIFA don’t kick up a fuss. In any event, Pantsil could have played it safe by wave the Hapoel (The Worker) Tel Aviv, which as befits a club founded by a Bolshevik trade union features a hammer and sickle. I am not sure whether anyone actually noticed my subtle show of allegiance for the workers back in the day, but I used to wear a Hapoel Telv Aviv T-shirt when I was 16 because of the symbolism.

And on the subject of Jews and Ghana – like many African countries, Ghana has a community which believes it is descended from one of the Ten Lost Tribes. Wikipedia has an interesting post on the subject of “African Jew” (a definition I am pleased to note covers me too), and Kulanu is an organization that works with “developing” Jewish communities across the globe. This subject is one that never loses its fascination for me, and actually warranted me calling out Christopher Hitchens.


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