I think people may be missing the point. If fans called themselves “Jews” (as they do at Ajax I think) rather than “Yids” that would also be weird. It’s not the use of a “curse word” that’s potentially alienating for Jews, it’s the fact that fans have chosen to identify as Jews ironically because Jews are seen as despised underdogs. Europe exterminated its Jews and now uses them as sporting mascots in much the same way as Americans use their exterminated indigenous population.
If a bunch of white people who started a Jane Austen fan club ironically referred to themselves as “African-Americans” (whatever their intentions) I would find that odd in the same way that Tottenham fans refer to themselves as Yids. The particular term for me is irrelevant. The larger point is that Spurs fans have appropriated my own exotic ethnicity in a way that I feel trivializes the experience of Jews. Worse, in doing so, their actions alienate real Jews. How many African Americans would care to join that book club? Or is the discomfort a potential book-club member might feel irrelevant? That is the arguable question, but for me the more central one.
Or do you think the issue would be solved if Spurs fans began referring to themselves as “Jews!”
Yes, that’s what we’ll do! We can start an action group calling for Spurs fans to call themselves “Jews”. Then when Chelsea fans use the “Y-word” we can easily separate the philo- from the anti-semites! ;)
Context is important in understanding the use of the Y-word. I live in Tottenham on White Hart Lane in walking distance from the stadium. I don’t follow football but I have to say I dislike the way that Spurs fans are being attacked here when that Jewish identity was actually thrust upon them by the racist chanting of rival London clubs back in the 70s.
It seems ironic that Chelsea who the Baddiel brothers support have traditionally been one of the worst offenders in this area. A few years ago Israeli manager Avram Grant received antisemitc death threats from people claiming to be Chelsea fans. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/chelsea/article3402512.ece
Contrast that with how some Spurs fans fly the Israeli flag and chant ‘Yid Army’ as a rebuke to the antismeitic chanting of rival teams as if to say ‘yes we have a lot of Jewish fans, a Jewish management and we are based near Stamford Hill with the largest orthodox Jewish community in Europe and we’re proud of it!’ Tottenham fans are definitely not being racist, at least certainly not in intent, when they use the Y-word. The same cannot be said of certain ‘fans’ at clubs like Chelsea whose intent is clearly to cause offence with their racist chanting. It is those clubs and those supporters who need to be vilified, not Tottenham.
But don’t take my word for it read what this Jewish Spurs fan has to say on the subject. In my view he’s pretty much spot on.
One thing is for sure you can take away the Y-word but Spurs’s Jewish identity isn’t going anywhere soon.
A week ago or so on a match day I heard some fans on the Tottenham High Road in the street speaking Hebrew.
“Look there’s a star of David on that T-shirt” one of them said happily.
Firstly, we are talking about football – Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea. None of them is “authentically” Jewish or non Jewish or antisemitic or Greek or any such thing.
There is a game which has developed over the years. Non Jewish spurs fans run around calling themselves yiddos. Jewish spurs fans either embrace it or keep quiet.
Jewish Arsneal fans have generally sought rationalisaitons when they are surrounded by their angry gooners shouting “yiddo” at the opponents – or they just keep quiet.
Chelsea fans similarly.
We should agree to kick racism out of football.
We should agree that clubs should get rid of their cod-ethnic identities. We are just red, blue and blue and white – we should reject the racialization of football even if it originates “defensively” or even if it is “only a game”.
Spurs fans who use “yiddo” knowingly and who think it’s good fun should think more clearly – if you teach people to think in those terms and use those kinds of words then you’re storing up trouble. You’re mis educating children. You’re legitimating the use of the term “Yid” not only as a term of belonging but also as a term of exclusion.
Please, it is so ridiculous to make this debate into an Arsneal v spurs v chelsea debate – it should be straightforward – we should get rid of this game of antisemitism and pro-Jewishness from London football – it’s infantile, it’s uncomfortable and it is dangerous.
Just kick it out.
Also, antisemitism is big in Dutch football too – and there too, it isn’t funny.
At A Wedding in port sunlight Liverpool, an old lady walked up to me, brings out a black golly wog doll and asked me what I thought of it. I didn’t know what it was at the time, until a friend of mine from England, explained what it was and he was horrified by the incident. Who is really white or black, my skins brown and not black, I ask is your skin really white. Have we all been lied to. I grew up in a civilised vibrant and civilised society in Africa but for some reason the media shows you only the slums and has always stereo typed Africa to be only a place of poverty and war which is very untrue. This is as corroborated in my encounter with the University of Liverpool’s ambassador to Nigeria, who assumed without confirmation that I was from a village when I told her we watched her on a CD ROM, how ignorant I thought, but of what use is it to explain. If such an affirmed comment could come from an ambassador of the University of Liverpool in 2008 which was the capital of culture. That is why I am currently formulating a next plan of action to educate people positively the all humans are the same, and every society has good and bad parts purposes., This is what I aim to tackle. Isn’t this why Black Black Black Sheep was taken off the schools curriculum
In England you have the local people who beg, are homeless and are bed ridden with poverty but this is never beamed to the world for charity purposes, instead Africa is always a soft spot to touch . An European might want to take pity of an African because the media has stereo typed them as uncivilised and poor, but does it ever beat your imagination that it might not be the case and that he might have lived in more affluence than you can ever have imagined from legitimate sources of income. My findings, admist civilisation, ignorance is still very prevalent in the British Society.