Upton Parker, September 2010

As a diehard socialist I don't tend to observe religious holidays including Yom Kippur, but out of empathy with my neighbours I always stay indoors for the duration of the Day of Atonement, universally regarded as the most sacred day for the Jewish people.

Therefore, Avram Grant's newly-found piety is morally justified. A day of reckoning at a synagogue is much better than other, rather obscure pursuits, so our manager is vindicated and one can only hope that his sincere and heart-felt prayers will help the team in their bid to stay in the Premier League.

I hope that the same religious zeal will prevent Tal Ben-Haim from playing. He is my countryman, just like Grant himself, but I must admit that he is an extremely limited footballer, as several English clubs have found out, normally too late.

I hope the readers of KUMB don't jump to the harsh conclusion that all Israeli players are devoid of talent. Two of the best Israeli players, Eyal Berkovic and Yossi Benayoun, have excelled in our colours. I was very proud of them, as well as wary of some parochial fans at Upton Park who had been narrow minded enough to suggest that I patron our stadium because of the presence of Israeli footballers at the club.

Now the situation is more complicated for me: I love West-Ham despite Grant and Ben-Haim, and believe that both of them will vanish from our scene pretty soon.

But these Israelis only exercise their basic human rights by observing the Holy Day, and this enables even a secular person like me to wish them well and to hope that their prayers will be answered. Upton Park has become 'Upton Parker' of late, but the game against Stoke City is away from home and it may prove to be a tough undertaking, with or without the manager.

If our players emulate the spirit and dedication displayed by Scott Parker, we may be able to salvage at least a point. The West-Ham fans here in Israel will watch the outcome with the usual combination of hope and anxiety.

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