“Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” sang a section of the home supporters of FC Utrecht towards the fans visiting from Amsterdam, a city historic in part for its Jewish community. “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews, because Jews burn the best!”
The chant was caught on video and quickly circulated among Dutch media. FC Utrecht issued an apology as Jewish organizations demanded action by soccer authorities.
Anti-Semitism in European soccer appears to be getting worse. According to Kick It Out, a British organization originally devoted to combating racism, anti-Semitic incidents are up in the English Premier League. A Kick It Out study released last month revealed that there were 59 reported instances of anti-Semitism during the first half of this season. That was more than during the entire previous season. Anti-Semitism made up a third of the total instances of abuse, and was second in frequency only to racism.
One of this season’s worst episodes came when fans of the London club West Ham were caught on camera chanting “I’ve got a foreskin, how about you? F—— Jew” on their way to play Tottenham Hotspur, a team with a historically strong Jewish following.
Other recent incidents have included fans — and in several instances players — making Nazi-like salutes.
In a recent game between Bosnia and Austria. Bosnian fans took to the streets of Vienna in what was originally a pro-Palestine demonstration, but eventually disintegrated into chants of “Kill, kill the Jews” — also caught on video.
But Ronny Naftaniel, Chairman of the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund, sought to draw a line between the chants — as insulting as they are — and anti-Semitism. Whether it’s West Ham vs. Tottenham or Utrecht vs. Ajax Amsterdam, he said such insults have more to do with local rivalries than true bigotry.
“It’s indeed very shocking what happened at the game between FC Utrecht and Ajax,” he said. “It’s something that happens twice or three times a year during games. And it looks as if no one is able to fight it. Of course, it has some deeper roots which go back to the fact that Ajax supporters, they expose themselves as Jews. They walk with flags with the Star of David and they call themselves ‘The Jews.’ So the problem is that then their adversaries act as if Ajax are the Jews and come up with the most insulting slogans.”
“For us Jews, we are disgusted,” he said. “But those people who do those slogans are not Nazis. They are not most of them fundamentalists whatsoever. They are supporters, hard core supporters, of those clubs.
“If these were hard core anti-Semites, it would be easier to combat it,” he said. “But it’s part of the football culture, and that is very tough to fight against.”
Supporters of the local team, ADO Den Haag, used to chant “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” whenever Ajax came to town, Naftaniel said. They even made a sickening sound, as if gas were slowly leaking into the stadium.
Source: Washington Post