Why shun our Becks appeal?

By David Robson, July 29, 2012
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This is the day to consider the 2012 Olympics and the Jewish question. And what is the Jewish question? That is: "how many Jews are there in the British Olympic team?" And the answer is "none". Not a single one. And don't imagine I haven't checked. I've been up and down the lists searching with a feather and a candle.

I saw the name Mo Farah - short for Moses or even Moishe? Then I looked at a photograph of him. He certainly doesn't look Jewish. There's a woman in the riding team called Phillips and I know a lot of Jews called Phillips. Disappointingly, she turns out to be the Queen's granddaughter. Then I wondered if Bradley Wiggins's real name wasn't perhaps Baruch Weinstein. But would any Jew spend days shlepping a bike up the Alps when he could have done it by car?

Do the selectors have something against Jews? You couldn't blame them. Scarcely any British Jews have won medals of any sort in the past 50 years and Harold Abrahams, winner of the 100 metres in Paris in 1924, is our only Olympic champion of the whole modern era.

Perhaps that is the reason for the mind-boggling exclusion from the GB football team of David Beckham, role model, superhero and campaigner for London 2012. They've tried to pretend it's because he's too old and too slow or something. But I think we know the real reason he was not chosen - because he's too Jewish. He's one of us: his favourite kicks are free kicks, his wife's in the shmatte business, he's got a verse from the Song of Songs tattooed on his arm in Hebrew and he named his eldest son Brooklyn after a Jewish part of New York.

She handled a baton but never a batmitzvah

His father Ted, though not Jewish, played some football for Wingate, a London Jewish team, and - more importantly - his maternal grandfather, Joseph West, was a Jew. David says he has had more contact with Judaism than with any other religion and has referred to himself as "half-Jewish." He has been photographed wearing a kippah and looks quite as comfortable in it as he does in Giorgio Armani underpants, though, I hasten to add, he's never been seen wearing a kippah held in place by a hair-grip on the field.

So there are no Jewish British Olympians this year, and don't even bother to look. There were never many. In 1960, I remember the JC got so desperate it claimed Dorothy Hyman, silver medallist in the 100 metres and bronze medallist in the 200 metres. But what's in a name? Hyman was the daughter of a coalminer in Cudworth, near Barnsley, a village not noted for its Jewish population. She also ran the sprint relay. She handled a baton but never a batmitzvah.

When the GB football team runs out for the first time, I shall not say a shecheheyanu. A genuine impoliteness has been committed against Beckham and the public, an act of stupidity.

A home has not been found for football's wandering sort-of-Jew. He has taken it with good grace, as he takes everything. But it's time methinks for another Hebrew tattoo: "eli eli lama azavtani" - my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Last updated: 10:45am, July 29 2012