Saturday, March 05, 2005

OK, Maybe I should give up on the Dutch

I find this funny, sad, confusing, and weird all wrapped up in a nice ball of Gefilte Fish.

We have soccer, football - whatever, in that very European "we're so bored we want to taunt and fight with the other team's supporters" thing going on, with the wonderful institution of clueless institutional anti-Semitism.

Not that bad, I guess. We do have the Washington Redskins. But how did the leading Dutch soccer (I'm an American, I will call this particular behavior soccer-not football) team Ajax Amsterdam, named after a Greek mythological character, become associated with anti-Semitism?

Let's go to the quotes from The Telegraph article.
Ajax Amsterdam is struggling to stamp out the bizarre tradition by which its most devoted fans call themselves "Jews", even tattooing themselves with Stars of David and waving Israeli flags, although they are not Jewish and know little of Judaism.

Of all places, we need to go to Le Monde to get the right background.
A burning carcass. That is what remained of the Ajax Supporters' Home when Ruben arrived on the scene, late at night on Sunday January 30th. Even before he gave the ruins a closer look the Ajax supporter had no doubt: fans of ADO Den Haag (the team they had played that afternoon) were the arsonists... Two weeks later the police are still investigating.
Interesting. In America we burn down our own cities if we win. In Europe they burn down the other teams fan's house.....and the whole Star of David thingy doesn't help either.
The two clubs have an old rivalry. They're not alone in the Netherlands, where the most hardcore supporters - so-called 'siders' - have been engaged in a merciless struggle for a long time. In March 1997 the fight between gangs of supporters from Feyenoord and Ajax led to the death of a young man. But the violence is also verbal. Since a dominant part of the Ajax fans began proudly calling themselves Joden ('Jews') in repetitive chants, they've been bombarded with hissing sounds from their opponents, references to the death camps and anti-semitic yells.....According to Simon Kuper (author of Ajax, the Dutch, the War), Israeli symbols appeared in the early 1980s in the section of the F-Side, the old stand of the club's hard core, soon after the visit by Tottenham, a club known for its connection to the Jewish community of North London. Jewish symbols soon accompanied the 'Jews! Jews!' yells that replaced the 'Boeren! Boeren!' ('Farmers! Farmers!'), which that Amsterdam supporters used to yell at their opponents. Rival fans soon replied with 'ssssssssssss' (the hissing sound of gas) and, more recently, 'Hamas! Hamas! The Jews to the gas!'
Well that's cute. I guess it is better than the usual European tradition of, "I'm bored. Let's invade someone. Oh, while we are at it, lets do a pogrom as well."
Although the large part of the Amsterdam followers have no clue as to what Jewish religion is about, they've had the curious habit of carrying Jewish symbols for some time. Before it burnt down the Supporters Home, built adjecent to the Ajax training pitches, was covered with Israeli flags. Willem, the barman, wears the Star of David on his T-shirt, as do many others on their hats or scarves. On match days these F-Siders, around 5,000 people, shout Joden, Joden ('Jews, Jews') and wave huge Israeli flags. "These chants are part of our culture and they're really important to us," explains Erwin Pieters of the Onafhankelijke Fanclub Ajax (OFA), an independent fan club. "We call ourselves Jews in order to to deprive the opposing supporters of the pleasure of calling us so, as if it were an insult."
Harrumph. I like that guy.

You know, there is a little more here than meets the eye.
There have been debates about the alleged Jewish identity of the club regularly ever since the foundation of the club in 1900. According to historians the Jewish connection was down to simple geographical facts in the first place: Ajax and the Jewish neighborhoods were both in the East of Amsterdam. Nobody would deny the link, though. For the best, but also for the worst. During World War II, according to Simon Kuper, the club followed the orders of the Germans very strictly in the fall of 1941, expelling twelve Jewish players and board members.
Mmmmm. Maybe not a good idea. Should remind everyone why there are no longer Jews on the team or in Holland at all. How soon we forget that prior to the German invasion, there were 140,000 Jews in Holland. Today there are 30,000. You do the math. Let the fans have their mascot and tradition, if for no other reason than to torque off the homegrown jihadi and anti-Semites.

Another angle to this is that the focus, as many things are in Europe right now, is off focus. The problem isn't Jewish symbols used by Ajax fans, lovingly mind you, but the reaction to the other side. The fans are right. Everyone should bugger off if they can't deal with the Star of David. Unlike the Washington Redskins issue here, the problem isn't the mascot, but the reaction to it. Even more of a reason to keep it. If nothing else, if you changed things, this guy would get real pissed off.

Hat tip Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

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