Dutch Chief Rabbi to Meet With Soccer Fans Following ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas’ Crowd Chant
The chief rabbi of the Netherlands will meet with fans of soccer team Vitesse Arnhem, in the wake of last week’s clash with Ajax during which Vitesse supporters chanted the slogan “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs intends to engage with fans in a town-hall style meeting where he will be joined by Ahmed Marcouch, the Muslim Mayor of Arnhem.
“Clearly the chants are abhorrent and disgusting,” Rabbi Jacobs said in a statement on Wednesday. “They are ignorant and a twin attack on Jews: on Israel and on the Holocaust. The natural reaction is to condemn in the strongest possible terms. We, of course, do so.”
Jacobs added that both himself and Marcouch, “a Jew and a Muslim are fully aware of the dangers of ignorant prejudice.”
He continued: “We are also fully aware that boxing people in with condemnation can just entrench positions into ‘them and us.’ This serves nobody’s interest. Our town hall meeting for which I am grateful to the mayor for initiating, will be a frank, and we imagine difficult, exchange of views. But an entirely necessary one.”
Amsterdam-based Ajax have frequently been targeted by fans of other teams with antisemitic invective, because of the team’s historic connections to the Dutch Jewish community and the practice of its almost exclusively non-Jewish fanbase of waving Israeli flags at matches.
Ajax beat Vitesse 2-1 in last Sunday’s game. The antisemitic chants were condemned by Pascal van Wijk, director of the Vitesse team, who said it was “deeply saddening that a small group of supporters misbehaved in such a way.”