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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Gambling - A Stake in Jewish Identity

It’s  been Easter Saturday and so one of the best days of the year for chocoholics and less savoury folk addicted to Jew-bashing.

First off the starting block has been Egyptian health and beauty columnist, Firnas Hafzi who has dared to show her pretty face while pouring gallons of ugly, anti-Jewish poison via the website of magazine El Kibar.

Firnas.HafziFor the sake of  her diatribe she became an ‘expert’ in Judaism to recreate the ancient anti-Jewish blood libel – then went on to add further grossly absurd inventions about Jewish involvement in the Dracula vampire stories.

The article was highlighted by sterling news blogger and Israel advocate Elder of Ziyon who also noted that Visa, the international credit card giant, has taken extensive advertising with El Kibar in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup. So he contacted several Visa media relations departments and demanded an explanation for the company’s involvement.

The response from Visa Middle East follows:

“We are aware that a Visa-branded advert has appeared in Egypt's El Kebar magazine. We can confirm that the advert was not placed by Visa, nor do we directly advertise in this magazine. Visa provides marketing materials and use of its logo to its partners who wish to market Visa-branded products. We are investigating whether this is another parties' advertisement making use of our brand and will address accordingly. Visa condemns intolerance of any kind and is working to resolve this quickly”.

Further, Andy Woolnough, a Visa employee based in the United Arab Emirates, explained to Ziyon: 

“Visa has no direct relationship with the consumer, and all of the cards it issues are through banks. When Visa is promoting a product or sponsored events it doesn't do it directly but creates marketing materials and their partners (usually banks) market it directly to consumers”.

Humph! I know I’m not the only one who is not overly impressed by Visa’s attempt to distance itself from the furore. The first of my many question is why doesn't it  thoroughly vet individuals or organisations before awarding them 'partner 'status?

Gambling.IsraelMeanwhile the U.K. Mail Online continues to pursue  its seedy obsession with unpleasant Jewish stories, the latest being about London-based Israeli billionaire gaming entrepreneur, Teddy Sagi whom it accuses ofexploiting the poorest and most ­vulnerable people in the country”.

This is because his company, Playtech is behind the software for fixed-odds betting terminals used by many U.K. high street bookmakers.

There seems little doubt that Sagi’s past is less than one hundred per cent kosher and it is indisputable that while gambling has forever been a major Jewish social disease, there have always been dominant Jewish figures in the international gaming industry.

I could name two British figures – both now dead. I did not know one and cared not a jot for the other. But while I am fully aware that they were both fine supporters of  Jewish communal and Israeli charitable causes and would never suggest that there was ever any financial impropriety in their business dealings, I do insist that they somehow ‘whitewashed’ those activities with their good works.

I loathe all forms of gambling as I’ve seen how it wrecks families and ruins lives. Yes – it does indeed plague the weakest and the meekest in society. It makes them prey to loan sharks and other fraudsters who feign interest in wanting to help them out of  their spiralling,  chronic debt even as they feed off a complaint which is as terrible as any physical condition I may name.

I write this with passion – not because – God forbid – I’ve been personally affected – but because it’s something which deeply scars the fabric of Jewish society.

I close with a link to an interesting website with information about the gambling laws in Israel  -

© Natalie Wood (19 April 2014)

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