The thing I love most…

by Mark Solomons

...is it's not racist when I say it, but it is when you do. Jewish Tottenham fan, Mark Solomons goes through the motions once again on the seemingly never ending debate.

A lot has been said about the use of the word Yid. Unfortunately a lot of it has been said by idiots.
Fans of other clubs, and let’s face it we’re talking Chelsea here, don’t understand why they can’t use it and we can.
As if there is some kind of justification for their racism by saying ‘ sir, sir, they started it by calling themselves Yid Army so how can I be racist.’

If you don’t believe me, look at the Twitter tripe spouted by Chelsea fans in reply to BBC reporter (and Chelsea supporter) Dan Levene when he tried to call out anti-semitism.

“They sing songs with the word Yid so it can’t be racist.”

There are similar arguments about the use of the n-word by black rappers but with notable differences.
So, here’s a six word guide to why it is not racist when we say it but it is racist when they do.
Substitute the word ‘Jew’ for ‘Yid.’

Go on, try it.

For instance, when singing ‘Barcelona, Real Madrid, Tottenham are a bunch of Yids’, do you really think it is less offensive to sing ‘Barcelona, Real Madrid, Tottenham are a bunch of Jews?’

Are you suddenly not using it as an insult and, instead, singing ‘I say, we admire your multiculturalism and think it an example to us all?’
This probably doesn’t need explaining to fellow Spurs fans but it may help next time you get into an argument with a Chelsea fan and it’s this: being racist is not just about using a word it’s about the intent and context.

If they sing about gassing Jews in concentration camps – and I thought this had died out in the 80s but am told it was sung by a group on Wembley Way last month – I think we know where we stand on that one without any sign of the word Yid.

Take it from me, if someone snarls ‘you Jew’, then it’s quite clear they’re not asking me to marry their daughter. Saying Jew rather than Yid doesn’t make it any less nasty.

Now let’s try it the other way round. Would it be okay for us to chant ‘Jew Army’ but not okay to chant ‘Yid Army’? Would it actually make any difference? Is someone seriously suggesting ‘The Thing I Love Most Is Being A Jew’ is somehow significantly different to what we sing now and less likely to be seen as racist outside the club.

This is probably pretty obvious too but, yes, I’m Jewish – at least ethnically rather than spiritually. I stopped all that God stuff long ago.
Like thousands of us, our families grew up in the East End 100 years ago and could have gone to West Ham but found it a little less than welcoming so they jumped on the tram that, handily, linked Whitechapel to Tottenham and the rest is history. My grandad went to the 1921 cup final, my dad had a season ticket during both the 51 and 61 title winning seasons.

They only heard the word Yid from opposing fans. It was our generation who reclaimed it, owned it and wore it like a badge of honour.
I’m proud of the way non-Jewish Spurs fans want to identify with their Jewish roots. Rather than alienate, it makes me feel like I belong.
Woolwich also have a lot of Jewish fans, possibly as many as us. I know quite a few and, yes, some are uncomfortable about us using the word Yid but even less comfortable when their fellow supporters use it against us. I would also say this happens less often now than it used to, possibly because Woolwich’s fan base is quite ethnically diverse.

But certain posh, celebrity fans don’t get this whole Y-word thing. David Baddiel, who I admire a lot, has a problem with it as a Chelsea fan but I think his problem is a Chelsea problem not a Jewish one.

The same goes for those who pick their football team in the way others look at a row of unfamiliar beer pumps before choosing a pint from one they’ve heard of – what I like to call ‘The Piers Principle’ of fandom. They just don’t get it and never will.

Calling ourselves Yids doesn’t encourage Chelsea fans to be racist any more than being being black should be a reason why you’re not allowed on the same train as them or coming from a town noted for its sexual tolerance should be an excuse for homophobic chanting.

And for the sake of balance, any Spurs supporter throwing a banana skin on the pitch towards a black player should be banned for life too.

Author

Mark Solomons

Jewish, Spurs, Journalist. What's not to like?

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