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Society of Black Lawyers clearly to blame for problems at Arsenal/Tottenham game

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The books…

The sites…

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By Tony Attwood

I recently commented on the attempts to get rid of the use of the word Yid in association with Tottenham Hotspur.

The Society of Black Lawyers threatened to make a complaint to police over claims that anti-Semitic abuse is taking place at Tottenham Hotspur.

I don’t go to games at Tottenham apart from when Arsenal are there,so I can’t comment in general, but I can say that I heard more use of the word “Yid” at and around this weekend’s match, and saw more violence than I have seen at an Arsenal Tottenham game in years.

Presumably if the Society of Black Lawyers are true to their word the detailed reports will be already in draft form, and action will happen on Monday.  Unless the Society of Black Lawyers (I’ll call them The Society from now on, it is shorter) come up with the contrived argument that they only meant to complain about games at the ground in Tottenham High Road and that matches at Arsenal don’t count.

Now of course I am just one person in among around 60,000 who attended the match.  I have my own various ways of getting to the ground, and I see only a tiny percentage of the crowd action.  But in the Underground system and coming out of Arsenal tube station all one could hear was chants with the word Yid in them.   Apart that is, from the “We’ll sing what we want” chant, and come to think of that, that still has the word Yid in it.

As I have mentioned before, hearing the word “Yid” at Arsenal is very rare – there is the short “Yiddo Yiddo Yiddo” heard sometimes at the end of “We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham” but this has faded to almost nothing in recent years in home games.

So, although I can’t prove it, I have the clear impression the use of the word was from Tottenham fans.  I talked with Stefan who sits next to me in the ground and he said, without my first making the point, that the disturbances that were to be seen on his journey from west London, and the problems felt around the ground were coming from the Tottenham fans.

Now I have been to 30 or so Arsenal Tottenham games over the years at both grounds, and I can’t recall anything like this for many a long year.  I felt positively unsafe coming out of the Arsenal station, and was interested to see that the total police presence in the station was one policeman at the top of the steps as one turns right into the exit after the long tunnel.  He was doing nothing about the Yid chanting – as if he could.

After the game Drew and I nearly got ourselves involved in an ugly scene as two policemen riding horses rode straight us, while chasing a man (who seemed to have done nothing at all).  Within seconds there was a lot of pushing as the word “paedophile” (seemingly now the the hard-code Tottenham word for an Arsenal fan) was used repeatedly and some Arsenal fans called the Tottenham fans Fucking Yids in a most aggressive manner.  We got out of the way quick.  (If I felt unsafe surrounded by Tottenham fans coming out of the Arsenal underground I felt doubly unsafe with police horses charging around amidst the fans as they left).

Just a few instances, but this was a much heightened problem from anything that I personally have experienced for years and years.

Clearly if others had the same impression (and I have to say that it did seem widespread) then Peter Herbert and his Society has a lot to answer for.  I would never say the Tottenham and Arsenal games are all peace and light, but the aggressive use of Yid and Paedophile was not like this last year.

I have little doubt that in raising the issue just before this match the Society has a lot to answer for, and what it should be doing instead of making any representation to the police is apologising for the behaviour that their attitude has directly caused.

This is not like the police saying, “We are going to stop car theft” and then finding two cars are stolen, and saying “the announcement has made matters worse”.  This is an issue that has slowly, with a lot of hard work and patience, been reduced to a much lower level than it used to be at.  Yes there are still some awful things chanted and said – from the gassing sound to the Paedophile chants and the adoption of the Paedophile name for Arsenal fans, but all that has happened here is that the Society has made matters far worse.

If the Society has any sense of decency it will take hold of the matter and issue a letter in which it says something along the lines of

“The Society took a hard line in suggesting that action should be taken against the word Yid and its use at football matches.  We realise now that in making this suggestion we were doing nothing to help the situation in north London, and we humbly and deeply apologise for our most stupid and idiotic statements prior to the match.  We all plead guilty to inciting riotous behaviour and offer ourselves unconditionally to the police for arrest and subsequent charging with behaviour liable to cause a breach of the peace.”

That might help.

20 comments to Society of Black Lawyers clearly to blame for problems at Arsenal/Tottenham game

  • avatar TommyHarmer

    Hitler came to power by attacking the Jews, thus making the streets unsafe; then he offered the population safety in return for their votes. I remind you, as you seem to have forgotten, that this whole business began when supporters of West Ham, Chelsea and yourselves turned up at White Hart Lane (and at matches at your own grounds) calling Spurs supporters Yids; they accompanied this by loud hissing noises in imitation of the gas from the gas ovens, and invited all us ‘Yids’ to get back to Auschwitz. In response Spurs supporters took the collective decision to wear the insult as a sign of belonging. All four clubs, of course, have some Jewish support but, for some reason associated by our more visibly Jewish ownership, we got the name. Spurs supporters now see this in a wholly different light to the rest of humanity (apparently) and I am amazed that your piece fails to tell the story properly, but instead blames SBL with a sideswipe at us. I condemn absolutely the paedophile chants: I have heard OF them but never heard them at WHL. I also disapprove of the notorious Judas and the camel chants – both of which, with widespread condemnation, have disappeared from Spurs. It is interesting to note that camel-ownership chants have now been taken up at the Emirates. You are clearly not entirely as the driven snow in your clean new home.

    I can say frankly that I think it unlikely Spurs supporters will now be persuaded to relinquish Yid chants, but we have given up the racist and homophobic (possibly) ones and you should come out strongly and condemn anti-semitism among your supporters. The streets are not unsafe because of Spurs supporters; they are unsafe because of hooligans from all clubs, including your own. North London Derby games have long been accompanied by the provision of mounted police – you should try the Sheffield Derby.

    Congratulations on the win – we felt that, with eleven on the pitch we had you – but then we would do, wouldn’t we?

  • avatar Shelfsidejan

    But what did Tarquin say?

  • avatar nicky

    What I find peculiar is all this hooha over the word “Yid”. I’ve always associated it as a bit of slang for a Jew.
    Now, both Arsenal and Spurs are North London clubs where shareholders AND supporters alike must include a fair number of Jews (bearing in mind the numbers of that religious persuasion living in that part of the metropolis).
    It therefore seems to me that it would be logical for both sets of fans to claim “Yids” as part of their nomenclature. It would at least diffuse the continuation of an otherwise silly confrontation.

  • avatar marcus

    Part of the police state we now live in in the UK involves that insulting a person is now a prosecutable offence. So if I call someone a jerk, I can be criminally prosecuted.

    Everything else really just becomes footnotes to this appalling piece of legislation.

    Incidentally the police think ‘yid’ is not said by Spurs fans with the intent to cause offence, and therefore is ok.

  • avatar VeePee

    Unbridled animosity between Spurs and Arsenal fans (or any combination of fans really) has always astounded me. Can any of us say we haven’t got friends or relations of the opposite persuasion? We don’t hate our friends and relations so why dredge up this pseudo tribal nonsense as a show of virility?
    I’m a Spurs fan and, of course, it’s bred in me to dislike Arsenal but this, I know, is irrational and so it remains in the realms of banter. In any case why waste energy hating Arsenal when there’s a far more deserving cause in West London?
    As to the “Yid” question. Any insult, racial or otherwise, must be judged in context. For all the reasons previously stated, Spurs fans use the term in an anti racist way and so the word ceases to have the same meaning as a racial insult. In this way it becomes ineffective for others to use the term as an insult since it has been turned on its head and so it will die out or even maybe be seen as a positive term since Spurs fans use the word as a badge of honour.
    The Society of Black Lawyers (SoBL), led by Peter Herbert OBE have seen rich pickings in the world of football having made so much out of human rights issues. By stoking up the fires of alleged racism they feel they can bring lucrative lawsuits against clubs and even the FA.
    They call the FA an institutionally racist organisation. That’s a bit like calling the kettle erm … black. You see you can call a kettle black but not a person, even though the SoBLs want to be termed black as a distinct adjective. So if I called Peter Herbert “An avaricious black lawyer” he would, no doubt, be bringing the weight of the law down on my head. “An avaricious b****rd lawyer” would be acceptable though.
    I make that point since Peter Herbert says that even a Jewish Spurs fan using the term “Yid” would be deemed racist since it’s the word and not the context that is offensive. Therefore by terming himself a black lawyer isn’t he doing exactly the same? A knotty problem.
    Anyway, well done for yesterday although both our sides have problems this year I fear.

  • avatar bob

    One might actually think that ye old inbred tribalism isn’t the answer to anything; and persistently does far more damage than good. The problem is that it is inbred and is passionately defended. It successfully numbs and defeats rational analysis that would point a way forward. You may want your good, sanitized tribalism; but when you go for all out tribalism of any sort, you have already opened Pandora’s box to a world of woes. This insipid focus on who started/said what to whom and when, in so wounded a world as ours, is mostly a tried and true way to further divert ourselves from attending the dire problems that won’t get the attention they call out for. It takes some self-awareness, but one can actually love a side with all ones heart and reject the all-consuming tribalism that would turn a deaf ear to the hissing sound on behalf of a yes, mere football victory. A mere football victory. That sound (and its variations) is exhibit A in a tribalist culture gone mad. That level of cruelty is so injurious on so many levels, including to the perpetrators, that it would be good for us all to remember what a quick and slippery slope is the progression from tolerating and normalizing such behavior to the actual perpetration and participation in the deeds themselves. The problem is far greater than SBL, and conscious readers know it.

  • avatar Adam

    There has been other clubs around Europe that have faced similar problems when embracing a Jewish/Ashkenazi/Yiddish heritage the one that springs to mind is Ajax Amsterdam, Ajax asked its fans back in the late 1990s to stop referring to themselves as the “super Jews” as rival fans used this to abuse them calling them “Hamas” giving Nazi salutes and imitating the hiss of a gas escape meant to refer to the gas chambers of the holocaust. If Ajax can move away from this then so can Tottenham and in turn others.

    The word Yid or rather Yiddish first came about in the late 1800s and is associated with anti-Semitism of that era, so its up to others to try and prove that their use of the word YID is not offensive considering its historical use, but good luck that. Maybe its time that the Jewish community stopped using the term YID themselves for the good of all.

    Plus if im not mistaken I heard Arsenal fans singing “Hey Jude” yesterday, I hope I am mistaken.

    On the society of black lawyers; Its very convenient for them to pick their fights, Maybe we should send all of them over to Israel/Palestine so they can negotiate a permanent peace treaty. I wonder what they would make of them out there?

  • avatar @blacksheep63

    I think there is a debate to be had here, but one conducted with blinkers off. I do hear Arsenal fans singing ‘Yiddo’ but nothing like I used to at Highbury years ago. the Spurs fans in the tube were noisy, aggressive and boorish but I didn’t feel threatened. Perhaps I was being complacent. During the game the noise I heard – from the North bank – was good natured ribbing for the most part. I couldn’t hear the away fans – unlike Chelsea they were pretty quiet to be honest.

    I don’t hate Tottenham or their fans, I want us to be top dog in North London and think the Lillywhites should get over the fact that we moved north over a 100 years ago. We’re not going anywhere, you move if you want to (there’s a vacant lot over Stratford way I understand)

  • avatar Limpar

    Adam,
    It’s na na na nah.
    GIROUD!
    Not Jude
    Just so you know

  • avatar Adam

    Cheers limpar

  • avatar Pat

    Yiddish is the name of the language used by many European Jews. So it’s not an insult, it’s actually the name of a language.
    I’m not referring to the term Yid which I believe like a number of similar national epithets is usually intended as an insult, and therefore unacceptable.
    But we shouldn’t confuse it with the word Yiddish.

  • avatar Stuart

    Sorry to go off subject but does anyone know when Chelsea play Southampton at home?? I cant find the fixture on premierleague.com

  • avatar Adam

    @ Stuart, http://www.statto.com/ I use this site for info.

    @Pat, agreed, sorry if my post left that point unclear or open to misinterpretation. As stated above maybe it is about time some descriptive words (or abbreviations) were agreed upon to be abandoned by all for the common good?

  • avatar Stuart

    Thanks Adam

  • avatar jax

    @ Tommy Harmer.
    You’ve invoked Godwin’s Law, although I have to say it’s the first time I’ve seen it occur on the first comment, but considering the subject matter I suppose it was inevitable.
    Please leave the blog!

  • avatar Gord

    @jax I don’t think I’ve seen Godwin’s Law invoked in football before.

    This note is off topic.

    Some site by the name of El Centrocampista‎, had the title of “Can Arsenal help complete Mikel Arteta’s quest for recognition?” for an article. A reasonable length article, but at no point does it actually address the question. Can Arsenal help complete Arteta’s quest for recognition.

    The only thing that comes to my mind, is for Emirates to host a game (probably some friendly) between Spain and some other team. And a condition of the game, is that Arteta be called up to the national team (preferably to start). I have no doubt Arteta would do well, but I suppose whornalists would still call it a failure unless he happened to be fantastic.

    Are there other ways?

  • avatar Swifty

    What amazes me in all this is that,spurs fans call themselves yids,chant yids yids yids,
    they call themselves the yid army so before everyone starts slagging arsenal fans or
    Any other fan off then maybe when they stop calling themselves it,it might fade away.
    People read to deeply into this,in this pc world we live in no one can say anything without
    Someone screaming its wrong.
    There are loads of football songs that don’t get sung anymore because of the of brigade
    ,some I agree are close to the mark but now football grounds are becoming less lively than
    A graveyard because of this.
    As for violence at Saturdays game both sets of fans are equally as bad.
    People fail to point out that these are not joe bloggs who has just popped along for a match and a pie.
    The hooligans do what their doing and the normal fan does what their doing.
    The SOBL will create more racism and segregation than good.
    Their title already does that,if its against racism then how dare they highlight it as just a black thing.
    It happens to all creeds and colours,including white people.
    So as I pointed out earlier,when spurs fans stop calling themselves yids then you might have a case,until then,wrap up and get a life!

  • avatar Woolwich Peripatetic

    Tony,
    I presume your point is that in attempting to deny Tottenham fans freedom of expression the SoBL managed to inflame a situation that was winding down?
    The best way out of the situation would be for Tottenham Football Club to do more to educate the non-Jewish community about the persecution of the Jewish people throughout history and the evil that one man can do when good people fail to act.

    And stop serving pork pies at WHL.

  • avatar Madrid boy

    Spurs fan in peace. Your lads play wonderful football. We’re both scrapping it out for 4th this season. May the best team get the totally underwhelming prize… 2 of my best friends are dyed in the wool Gooners. So what??? For f*cks sake. We cohabit a smallish corner of Nth London. Rivalry is fun (not much from our perspective actually) but hatred RIDICULOUS. Anyway fantastic commentary from Vee Pee. 100% agreement. COYS.