This articles from my friend Richard, @R_Gooner was first posted four tears ago on my old site and the author has requested that I re-post as the debate has reignited for him… A pleasure
Why the Y word should be banned
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself to those who do not know me personally or even follow me on Twitter. I am a passionate Arsenal fan, my first visit to Arsenal (Highbury) was in 1975 and I was hooked by a totally miserable 1-2 defeat by Ipswich. My first season ticket was in 1982 etc etc etc and………..
I am also Jewish not overly religious but to quote Monty Python “I’m a jew! I’m a yid, a heebie, a hook-nose, a Red Sea pedestrian! I’m Kosher momma, and I’m proud of it!” as I am of being a Gooner.
I hate Tottenham Hotspur Football Club not in a nasty way but I just hate them. This itself is strange, as they have brought me so much pleasure and laughter over the years. I am not usually bothered by what they do, this again is strange as in my 50 years on this earth they have not done much. However, the way Tottenham Hotspur fans call themselves the Yids, Yid Army or Yiddos has always grated with me. Things have certainly changed since the days of the 80s when the chants in response from opposing fans were vile and sickening and are certainly not heard now as they were back in the day.
“There are terms and words below that I’d never use or condone but to explain my thoughts it is essential they are used on this one occasion”
There are plenty of different points of view to look at the Y word argument.
Jewish Tottenham Fans
Non-Jewish Tottenham Fans
Non-Jewish Fans of other clubs
and finally Jewish Fans of other clubs.
The final category seems to be the most overlooked while discussing this subject. Tottenham’s main rivals are Chelsea, West Ham & of course The Arsenal. I am obviously writing and giving my opinion from a Jewish Arsenal fans point of view.
An argument I often hear is that Yid to Tottenham is what Gooner is to Arsenal.
This is not true. Yid has meanings that stretch farther & wider than anything to do with Tottenham Hotspur, where as Gooner is solely a word made by a group of Arsenal fans for Arsenal fans. To this, I come up with a simple and somewhat light-hearted response. There are plenty of Yids that are Arsenal fans but to my knowledge, there are no Gooners that are Spurs fans.
I have had many discussions with Arsenal & Spurs fans both Jewish and non-Jewish over the years. Never usually agreeing with their argument about the use of the ‘Y’ word.
The debate has once again hit the mainstream media agenda in the past few weeks when news that the FA were trying to taking action against use of the word Yid by any football fan,
What followed has been a very mixed reaction. Adrian Durham interviewed David Baddiel on Talksport
and an intriguing 3-hour debate ensued.
Over the next week, various figures and bodies of great stature have had their say. The Prime Minister gave his opinion, prominent Rabbis in North London & the community Support Trust who are the body that protect the Jewish community from the external threats of bigotry, anti-Semitism and terrorism all gave their views.
That is pretty much where we are now.
Time for my opinion…an opinion when I tweet about this subject usually results in a loss of followers. Nevertheless, my Tweets are there to be read and entertaining informative and not part of a popularity contest. I am not trying going to pretend that I can change the world and I do not expect Spurs fans to even give the thought the time of day. People hold prejudices and this will not change.
I understand the historic association of Spurs and the Jewish community and the considerable percentage of Jewish fans. However, the fanbase is not too dissimilar to Arsenal’s. This renders the use of the word and the identity redundant at the lowest level. Also due to the current difference in stadium sizes Arsenal, attract more Jewish fans to games at The Emirates than Spurs do to White Hart Lane. Apart from the supporters, modern Arsenal has been shaped by the Jewish influence of David Dein and the late Danny Fiszman.
Many have argued that it’s OK for Spurs to use the word even David Cameron said ‘There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult’
I am a Jewish Arsenal fan like many thousands of others and find the fact that the use of Yid by Tottenham fans does indeed offend us.
The first game at WHL after this recent debate was the Spurs match against Norwich, which was on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the most religious day of the Jewish year. I assume that there was not a great Jewish representation in the Spurs crowd at the Norwich game. Despite this the Yiddo chants were loud and clear
So these are non-Jewish fans describing themselves as Yids as a badge of honour. Yet when Daniel Levy was negotiating the sale of Bale to Madrid a small section of fans took to twitter to abuse Levy and the fact he is Jewish
Maybe this will spur (no pun intended) the Spurs board to take action and encourage the ending of the use at WHL. The use of the word at White Hart Lane is somehow seen as endearing when quite rightly in modern society other terms are 100% frowned upon.
When Jermain Defoe appears for Spurs his chant is heard loud and clear
“Jermain Defoe is a Yiddo Jermain Defoe is a Yiddo”
Imagine the outcry if the song was actually – and I apologise for using this but imagine just imagine “Jermain Defoe is a N—–” Quite rightly it just wouldn’t happen
As I said earlier the vile and sickening chants of the 80s have certainly reduced and at games at Emirates Stadium have almost died out. Yet the chant of Yiddo Yiddo does still echo after the ‘We Hate Tottenham’ totally unacceptable and certainly not necessary. But fans of a certain age will remember much more sickening chants “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Hitler’s gonna gas ’em again” and “I never felt more like gassing the Jews When Arsenal win and Tottenham lose.” Echoing around Highbury. As I said thankfully these have virtually disappeared from home games and are not common at away games.
Many Arsenal fans say their use of Yid and Yiddo is only aimed at Tottenham and has no Jewish connotations I strongly disagree. Certain chants do remain and you can’t tell me singing “Driving down the Lane, in a black Mercedes Benz, shooting all the Yids, making lots of friends.” Doesn’t that sound anti-Semitic? I strongly believe that if Tottenham stopped using the the Y word the anti-Semitic replies would fade away and finally stop. Another point the loudest and clearest singing of that Mercedes song I have heard was at Whitton station a couple of seasons ago. Arsenal had just won 2-1 with a last minute goal scored by Yossi Benayoun, Oh the irony!
Going back to David Cameron’s quotes that “There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult.”
What would Mr Cameron say if a club in a strong Conservative area called themselves the Tories, then it caused a rival club to sing “The Tories are on their way to Brighton the IRA are going to do it again”. He would take that seriously and it would be resolved by the club dropping the Tory nickname.
The CST do a great job protecting the Jewish community and its prominent figures. But in its response to the FA Statement, The CST said
“We have consistently said that Spurs fans’ use of the Y-word does not remotely compare with, nor in any way legitimise, the vile and unacceptable anti-Semitic abuse that is all too often heard from opposing fans.”
“Ultimately, ridding football of anti-Semitism needs to involve Spurs fans voluntarily dropping the Y-word from their songbook.”
The CST seem to be implying it only has the interest of Jewish Spurs fans at heart and the suggestion that Spurs fans should VOLUNTARILY drop the word is quite laughable.
Rabbi Schochet, who serves at the Mill Hill synagogue in north London, agrees with the Prime Minister in so far as he is of the opinion that the Tottenham fans’ use of the word is not offensive as it does not come from a place of hatred.
“I maintain that on the Spurs pitch, it is categorically not anti-Semitic and not offensive but rather it is rallying call of support for a team that has a strong Jewish following.”
However, he then goes on to say,
“If the phrase ‘Yiddo’ was yelled at me on the street that would be something entirely different as then, in the first instance, it would be intended as anti-Semitic.”
IMHO it’s not different the first use of it by Spurs fans leads to the second use of it as full blown abuse.
In conclusion, let the FA deal with Spurs fans. It is time for the Tottenham board to realise they have a responsibility that reaches further than the four stands of WHL.
Jewish Tottenham fans who think its ok and turn a blind eye should realise their stance has a knock on effect leading to an increase in anti-Semitic abuse, think to yourself if you are happy with that!
If you are an Arsenal fan please remember the next time the Yid chants start remember you are insulting fellow Arsenal fans too. There are plenty of other sticks to beat Tottenham with and its time now to consign the Y word’s use to history.
I hope you have gained something from reading this and it has gone some way to explaining my hate of the word.
Thanks Richard – As relevant now as when first published in 2013.