The return of the “yid army”

As I discussed here, this weekend fans returned in small numbers (2,000) to some English Premier League soccer matches. Tottenham Hotspur was among the EPL teams to welcome fans. And what a welcome! Spurs defeated their hated rival Arsenal 2-0 in the North London Derby.

Spurs are heavily supported by London Jews. They always have been, to the point that many Spurs fans call themselves the “Yid Army.”

And, sure enough, within minutes of fans being seated, the chant of “Yid Army” rang through Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

It took the scolds only a little more time to react. Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of something called the Jewish Leadership Council, said this:

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement — which has created a benchmark by which race issues are addressed within sport — and in the light of the adoption of the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s] definition [of anti-Semitism], you cannot think of a better time for Spurs to be able to turn to their fans and say: ‘We think it is now time to stop using this word.’

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, I can’t think of a better time to respond: “f*** off” to the sort of hyper-sensitivity Goldstein is advocating. There’s no reason for Jews to mimic whiny members of other minority groups.

As explained in this article in The Athletic:

Tottenham fans chose to use the word [yid] themselves, about themselves, they did so to make it their own and, the theory went, to rob it of its hateful force. It was about pride in Spurs’ Jewish heritage but also disarming the antisemitism they faced at grounds around the country. Spurs fans speak of the empowering feeling of using it as the ultimate riposte to abuse.

This is their right. The death of George Floyd and the rise of a movement around it has no bearing on how Spurs fans want to respond to anti-Semitism or how they should brand themselves.

Fortunately, it appears that Spurs owner Daniel Levy has no immediate plans to reconsider the club’s stance on the “Y” word. The first name is the same, but apparently Levy is no Daniel Snyder.

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