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October 3, 2014 2:19 pm

British Police Investigate Anti-Semitic Tweets in Response to Soccer Club’s Rosh Hashana Greeting

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Kick It Out campaigns against racism and anti-Semitism in British soccer. Image: Wikimedia

Kick It Out, a non-governmental body combating racism in British soccer, has reported to UK police a flood of anti-Semitic tweets posted in response to a tweet from Liverpool FC greeting its Jewish supporters around the world on the occasion of Rosh Hashana.

The Jewish Chronicle in London reported that Liverpool had posted the Rosh Hashana greeting on its Twitter feed, which is followed by 3.24 million people.

It read: “Liverpool FC would like to wish all our Jewish supporters around the world a happy new year. #RoshHashanah.”

The post prompted a flood of offensive replies, many referencing Hitler and calling for Jews to be gassed.

A few hours later the tweet was removed by the club, along with the replies, and replaced with a post stating that the club “believes in the practice of religious freedom — we seek a world in which we can send good wishes to supporters without hateful responses.”

In a statement on Kick It Out’s website, Keeley Baptista, the organization’s professional game manager, said: “We immediately informed the police for them to investigate”.

Kick It Out added that Liverpool had passed information to the police and that anyone found guilty of posting ant-Semitic comments would risk a lifetime ban from the club’s Anfield stadium.

The statement also said that the club had not wanted to remove the original greeting, but was forced to because “Twitter does not offer the functionality to remove comments without deleting the original tweet”.

Soccer has not been immune from the anti-Semitic and rabidly anti-Israel mood that has surfaced across Europe since the war between Israel and Hamas over the summer.

In July, Nir Biton, an Israeli who plays for leading Scottish club Glasgow Celtic, was lambasted by fans after he posted a message of support for the IDF on his Instagram account. Reporting that Biton had engaged in “pro-Israeli propaganda,” the Scottish Daily Record quoted a number of angry tweets directed at Biton, including one from a fan who declared: “Nir Biton should never be allowed pull on a Celtic shirt again. Good Riddance Nir, your support of child killers is not wanted.”

“In a 2009 Europa League match against Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv, Celtic fans of them waved Palestinian flags in protest at the invasion of Gaza the previous year. Pro-Palestine football fans in Europe frequently attend matches brandishing the Palestinian flag in shows of support,” the Daily Record added.

However, a backlash among some soccer fans is also visible. The October issue of United We Stand, a magazine published by supporters of Manchester United, reported on an “ill-tempered thread on Israel and Palestine” on its online message board. “A poster had written: ‘We need Zionists the world over to stand up and be counted. Then f***ing murdered.’ The post was deleted. The poster, who’d had previous warnings, was banned and an apology issued,” the magazine said.

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