Anti-Semitism Rears Its Head In Italy (with comment by Paul)

On Thursday, Tottenham Hotspur played Rome’s Lazio club in a Europe League game. Before the match began, a number of Spurs fans were hanging out in Rome’s Campo de Fiori square when they were attacked by 50 to 100 “Ultras” armed with knives, baseball bats and brass knuckles. The Ultras are described as right-wing, which I take it means left-wing. They trashed a bar called the Drunken Ship and seriously wounded some of the Tottenham fans. The attackers reportedly yelled “Jews” and various anti-Semitic chants. I hadn’t realized it, but apparently Tottenham Hotspur is strongly supported by the Jewish community in north London.

These photos show the scene after the attack:

Lazio officials denied that the assault was carried out by their fans, but when the soccer match began, the anti-Semitic theme continued:

[S]hortly afterwards as the game got under way, Lazio fans chanted ‘Juden Tottenham’- using the German [!] word for Jew, and also unfurled a “Free Palestine” banner.

Here is the banner:

“Free Palestine” might sound like just one more innocuous pro-liberation slogan, but, since “Palestine” means Israel, it really signifies “Death to the Jews.” In Europe, nearly all assaults on Jews are carried out by Muslims, but the two men who have been arrested for attempted murder in connection with the Drunken Ship attack have traditional Italian names, and the Lazio fans who hoisted the “Free Palestine” banner were not likely Muslims. Whether this incident is emblematic of widening anti-Semitism in Europe, or just another instance of soccer hooliganism, remains to be seen.

PAUL adds: Lazio is the team supported by Italian fascists and has been for decades. In fact, it was Mussolini’s favorite club. So, in my opinion the attack on the Spurs fans isn’t just another instance of soccer hooliganism, but nor is it necessarily emblematic of widening anti-Semitism in Europe (though I believe anti-Semitism is widening there). Rather, the attack is emblemataic of what Lazio long has represented.

I wrote about Lazio, and mentioned Spurs, in this post from January 2005.

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