January 7 – The World Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews have condemned the use of the word ‘Yid’ to describe Tottenham Hotspur supporters, a club whose own fans historically use the word but as a badge of honour.
Chelsea fans have tarnished their club in recent weeks with persistent anti-Semitic chants against their London rivals who have a large Jewish fan base.
But the two Jewish bodies said that even Tottenham fans should take “a long overdue” stand against the use of the word.
In a strongly-worded statement ahead of tomorrow’s Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final between Tottenham and Chelsea, the two organisations said the word, which stands for Jew in its original Yiddish, now carries a “distinctly pejorative and anti-Semitic” message.
“There is no grey area when it comes to slurs that target a particular religious, racial, or ethnic group,” said WJC chief executive Robert Singer. “Its use by fans in the stands, either as a self-designated nickname or as a slogan against rivals must not be tolerated in any way. The innocence this word once carried, as a simple translation for Jew, has long disappeared, and we must be extremely conscious of the anti-Semitic connotation it now bears.”
Chants of ‘Yids’, ‘Yid Army’ and ‘Yiddos’ are regularly heard among Tottenham fans as a means of identity and The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust were previously adamant that Spurs fans themselves should decide whether the chant be stopped.
But Singer said: “We would also ask Tottenham Hotspur FC to take a stand against the use of ‘Yid Army’, Yid and ‘Yiddos’ by their fans. Such a long overdue action is important to kick anti-semitism off the pitch and create a welcoming environment for all.”
Tottenham have responded by stressing that no Tottenham fan had ever used the term with any deliberate intent to cause offence. This is in stark contrast to Chelsea fans whose anti-Semitic language has caused widespread outrage.
“We remain wholly committed to ensuring that a zero tolerance position is adopted in respect of anti-Semitic behaviour,” a Tottenham club spokesman was quoted as saying.
“The Y-word was originally adopted in order to deflect such abuse. We have always been clear that our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any deliberate intent to cause offence. A re-assessment of its use can only occur effectively within the context of a total clampdown on unacceptable anti-Semitism.”
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