The Y word

Discussion in 'Tottenham forum' started by Craig Emanuel, August 9, 2019.

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  1. Craig Emanuel Member

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    Tottenham Hotspur this week sent out a survey to all of its members asking for their views on the use of the word “Yid” within our fanbase.

    It is a topic that is nuanced and somewhat divides opinion across the world of football but, I believe, is largely supported within the club’s fanbase although we will see the outcome of this latest survey in due course. Certainly the last time the club undertook such a survey, back in 2013, around 75% of fans were in favour of the continued use of the word at Tottenham and the result was broadly the same across our Jewish and non-Jewish fans.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am a Jewish Spurs fan although I’m not a practising Jew. I was born into the religion and am deeply proud of that part of my identity but have chosen an atheist path in life. I am married to a Catholic, who is similarly proud of her religious ancestry but also would identify herself as a non-believer when it comes to religion. Our children are therefore not Jewish as religion follows the mother’s bloodline in Judaism, but I will educate them in Judaism and other faiths and let them choose their own path. I digress.

    So onto the debate about our use of the Y word. For me, the answer is entirely clear. The key to this entire debate is context. The context in which you are using this word. Are you using the word to convey a form of hatred or prejudice? The answer in the case of Spurs fans is unequivocally “no”. And that is all important.

    We know that football is tribal and by identifying ourselves with Judaism, unfortunately we will leave ourselves open to abuse by those who either aren’t educated enough to understand the true significance of their abhorrent actions or perhaps they are and truly are anti Semitic.

    We all know that, despite the leaps and bounds we appear to have taken in this country to kick out racism and all forms of discrimination, this evil still exists. Since the EU Referendum in 2016 there has been a surge in hate crimes and epidemics of Islamophobia and Antisemitism are all too evident in our two main political parties. This isn’t a problem for football, this is a societal problem. It’s there permanently. It usually lurks beneath the surface but that prejudice exists.

    Football can of course serve to highlight its presence. It exposes it as many fans think that rivalries give them carte blanche to verbally abuse opposing fans in any way they see fit. I’ve seen it first hand in my years following Tottenham. Nazi salutes, hissing noises, songs about foreskins which end with the words “f*cking Jews”. Chelsea and West Ham are, from my experience, the most abusive in this respect. This is overt antisemitism and it may be uncomfortable for some, but it is an uncomfortable truth

    What is the solution? To ban the word “Yid” altogether? How does that actually tackle the root problem of antisemitism in society? It’s a sticking plaster and, if anything, actually serves to punish the victims by eradicating their identity in order to suppress the perpetrators. I actually find this solution anti Semitic in itself.

    Hiding your identity from those who might attack you. That appears to be the FA and Kick It Out’s solution to this problem. Send it underground. It’s a coward’s response and one that doesn’t confront the real problem. It punishes the victims and is an affront to Judaism.

    Our response as Spurs fans is, and has always been, to own the identity with pride. To sing together in defiance at the slurs and vitriol aimed at us. To turn it into a positive that unites us. We’re not trying to incite anti Semitism by acknowledging and embracing our roots. We’re not making political statements about Israel or Israeli foreign policy in Gaza and elsewhere. We’re simply saying that our club stands for tolerance and inclusion. Not just for Jews but for all – we are a multicultural community standing side by side every week on the terraces, united by our collective passion for the club, the badge, the cockerel on our chests.

    Let’s be honest though, every fanbase has their idiots and we certainly can’t be too sanctimonious. Just last season, one of our fans threw a banana skin in the direction of Arsenal’s Gabonese striker, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Only the fan himself can say whether it was racially motivated. At the very least it was an act of idiocy and, from what I saw, our entire fanbase roundly condemned it and the club rightly took swift action to ban him for life. That is not who we are or what we, as a club, represent. Punish the perpetrators not the victims.

    In a world becoming increasingly divided through hate speech and the spread of terror (sadly most significantly by our “leaders” nowadays rather than those who strap bombs to themselves), it has arguably never been so important to demonstrate to the haters that they will not win. Silencing us isn’t a remedy. It doesn’t tackle the scourge of antisemitism running through the fan bases of our rivals, or society as a whole. And the hate will manifest itself elsewhere.

    Instead we should continue to own the Y word. We should continue to expose that prejudice, even if it means that David Baddiel might feel uncomfortable attending Chelsea matches against us and seeing “his people” vociferously attacking people just like him for being just like him, but who happen to be wearing a Lilywhite shirt at the other end of the stadium. That is something that Chelsea need to eradicate and, to be fair, their hierarchy has been trying with their “Say No To Antisemitism” initiative. The irony that the man who has pumped hundreds of millions of £s into their club and presided over the most successful era in their history, is a Jew, is not lost on us. Education is the way to deal with it. Eradicating the target of the abuse seems to me to be more akin to Hitler’s “final solution”.

    Context is all important. In the same way that when John Terry allegedly called Anton Ferdinand a black c*nt, people seemed to be more incensed with the word “black” than the word “c*nt”. As far as I’m aware it is entirely acceptable to describe someone as black, but by using a derogatory term alongside his skin colour, he chose to bring race into an argument. It’s this context that makes it completely unacceptable. Equally, if you call me a Yid c*nt, or mimic the sound of the gas chambers in Auschwitz, that would be completely unacceptable. But if someone sees me in a Spurs shirt and shouts “Yiddo” or “Yid Army” to me, I’m not going to be offended. I don’t think you are attempting to offend me; rather it is a recognition of my belonging to that particular fraternity.

    And that is the fraternity to which I proudly belong. We have taken ownership of the Y word to recognise the deep rooted nature of our association with the Jewish community and to defy those who attack us for that. But it also recognises who we are as a football club and what we stand for, Jews and non-Jews alike. You certainly don’t need to be Jewish to be a Yiddo – as our song for Jermain Defoe showed and countless other non-Jewish players who have donned our colours. Indeed people of all backgrounds, religions and ethnicities can choose to support Tottenham Hotspur and you can join our family, as long as you stand for tolerance and respect.

    We are black. We are white. We are Jews. We are non-Jews. We are British. We are from other parts of the world. And we stand together. And together we are the Yid Army and I hope it will continue to be this way as a defiant message that, in the face of the abhorrent vitriol thrown at us, we will not be silenced.

    If you agree with me and you have a chance to respond to this club survey then please consider taking some time to do just that. Deadline is 18 August.

  2. TimSpur Guest

    For me I feel the very reason ewe took the name in the first place should be told and known by all.
    The reason was to deflect the abusive and anti-Semitic chants from both Chelsea and Arsenal fans who used to call us ''Yids'' as in a derogatory manner as they'd also hiss making sounds like the gas chambers opening, you all know the style it was always done, or many of us older ones do. We took the name they aimed toward the Jew as our club badge almost as our identity as then they could not single out just the Jews, but they'd be chanting it at EVERY Spurs fan, It worked too, soon after we would rarely hear anyone calling us ''Yids'' in that manner, but you would always hear it from us as the use became more and more frequent and accepted.
    Now, because of this you can see it one of two ways, you can see it as a ''mission accomplished'' therefore we should by rights give it up, as it served its original purpose, and that no longer applies any more today.
    To be honest that would be the right thing to do, because it was only intended as a deflection of abuse when it started.
    But, because it has become such a label and a part of each Spurs fan who call themselves Yidos, I also don't believe we should ever give it up because we all know, or we should all know, the purpose we became the Yids. As that actually isn't something anyone should or could knock, as the truth really is the reason was always good in nature, was well intended and has never been used in any sort of anti-Semitic way by any of us.
    And I also believe more should be done to teach every Spurs fan this fact to make sure it's always used in the correct manner. After all we are the Yids!
  3. Neil Guest

    My understanding is the word yid, although meaning Jew in Yiddish, has over time come to be a derogatory term to describe a Jewish people by non Jews. Would context be an acceptable argument if a team came to use the n word as their badge of honour? This seems unlikely. It should really be for the Jewish community to say if this word is offensive and if they accept us using it in this way. If they say ok then great. If not, we should stop.
    The chant is iconic and I would be sorry to see it go, but not being jewish myself, it's not for me to decide.
  4. TimSpur Guest

    I believe I can also tell you the very first time we all used it in a stadium. I don't know the exact date but I know the game, as it was on a Boxing day in the early 80's against the Scum. So if someone has all our historic results look for the derby early 80's on Boxing day.
  5. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    And what do they intend to do with the findings of this Survey, threaten to kick out the fan base again for using it , causing a complete crash in atmosphere and disconnect as it did?

    The Spurs crowd use it as a badge of honour , I am not personally Jewish but damn right I'm a Yiddo!

    After the well known antisemitic abuse hurled towards Spurs by West Ham, Chelsea and others to ban us from saying Yid would be akin to banning black rappers using the N' word.

    You just cant itl never work.
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  6. TimSpur Guest

    I believe it was Oswald Mosley and his group that would use the term ''Dirty Yids''
  7. Cheshuntboy Guest

    It's ridiculous - Spurs weren't founded as a 'Jewish' football club, and weren't regarded as any more Jewish than any other London club until hooliganism took a grip on the sport in the '70s. I remember when Arsenal played Ajax in the old Fairs Cup in 1970, the game clashed with a Jewish religious festival, and it was re-arranged to suit the Jewish supporters of both clubs. The vast majority of current Spurs supporters are NOT Jewish, and to adopt a divisive and inaccurate label in a multicultural city, country and world seems downright perverse - it's a relic of an era that deserves to be consigned to the proverbial dustbin of history, and good riddance.
    notnats likes this.
  8. Gershon Guest

    I'm an Israeli Jew, now in California, support Spurs all my life. I find it incredible that people even discuss banning the word "Yids" when spoken with pride and in self-description. Instead, they should focus on stamping out the anti-Semitic chants, Nazi saluts, gas-chamber hissing, etc. It is absurd to try to shut up the victim of abuse and not the perpetrator of abuse. I've been on the receiving end of anti-Semitic hatred enough times to be able to assure you - the anti-Semites would not be placated by us shutting up, they would only be encouraged by it.
    Bazza47 likes this.
  9. I have already filled in the survey and agree 100% with the OP.. Sing it with pride and passion and make the people with the power concentrate on the vile fans who hiss and sing disgusting songs about Jewish people... Yid army always stand together in peace and love of our club, its history and its fans
    Bazza47 likes this.
  10. Peter5yu Guest

    A good and well thought out article ......however as a Jewish season ticket holder for many years, I feel undecided about it. I have said and sung it many times myself, but also on occasions felt a little uncomfortable.
    Like you said, its all about context. I don't think anyone would argue that Jews and non Jews together singing Yid Army inside a football stadium out of love for their club was anything but OK....but unfortunately in real life its hard to contain that context, and it spreads like wildfire through the idiots and racists out there, who have maybe heard it at Spurs, and before you know it their kids are chanting Yids in the playground and sometimes using the word as an insult without having any idea about the meaning or connotations of the word or why they are using it. Yes probably a society problem rather than a football one, but are we encouraging that?
  11. Peter5yu Guest

    While we're on the subject, have any of our fans Jewish or non Jewish, felt a little uncomfortable about recent Tweets or posts from our own fans about Daniel Levy and ENIC?
    I've read;
    "Get your hand in your pocket you tight arse"
    "When are you going to spend some Shekels"
    "Get your f?!+ ing money out" name but a few.
    Yes, it doesn't take much to work Levy and Joe Lewis are both Jewish and these comments play into the age old Anti semitic cliche about how Jews are stingy?
  12. ragman Guest

    Jews of Tottenham FC where abused by certain other Clubs, calling them Yids or Yiddos. The Club and fanbase took action and started Yid Army. History tells us that the anti-semitic chants stopped within few years, because of the cleverness that was put in to action. Mission (for that purpose) accompliched. Today you get a fine or a ban or something simular for this kind of behavior, so der-for The Yid Army has done its purpose. Its simply not needed for the time being. I doubt it will ..ever again (believer of mankind eh?). If Tottenham Plays Arsenal and Yid Army starts chanting, what will the Jews in the Arsenal corner think or feel? First of all, there are more People of Jewish Heritage in the fanbase of Arsenal nowadays, making them probably a little bit bothered. The other thing is ..the rest of the Spurs Supporters who have no relations With Jews and doesnt relate. Its at this time like Scandinavians (who fill up as much as 8-10 %) of some Clubs fanbase starts feeling grumpy and wants songs in a specific way. The Club and fans that started Yid Army should be very proud, because it did exactly what it should. Shut up ignorants, but I think it time to put the Project on layaway.
  13. Toronto Spur Guest

    I find this discussion genuinely fascinating. My husband and I were raised Anglican/C of E but do not practice any religion. Our best friends happen to be Jewish. We are white, middle-aged season ticket holders at Spurs and I just filled out the questionnaire. To me, standing proud and being a member of the Yid Army is in defiance of the West Ham crew, who are by far the worst abusers I've ever heard. That said, I can't imagine what would happen if we were the "N***** Army" (let's face it - we can't even type/say the word), or the "Fag Army", so why is our version ok? I don't pretend to understand how it feels to be a Jewish victim of anti-semitism but I do love my club and would never knowingly do anything to offend any of my fellow Spurs supporters. I'm interested and comforted that there are Jewish supporters leading the charge NOT to ban the "Y word". If we have their blessing, I will whole-heartedly take that stand. In the meantime, I'm happy that the club is doing its best to identify the best course of action from the perspective of the fans who do/do not use the term as well as those who may feel offended by it. Not matter how this works itself out, we're ultimately all on the same side. #COYS
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  14. Craig Emanuel Member

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    We weren’t founded as a Jewish football club but due to our geography and the pattern of immigration from Eastern Europe to parts of North and East London, we have had a strong Jewish fanbase since the early part of the 20th Century - so for around 120 years of our 140 year history. The following article gives a good potted history...
  15. Cheshuntboy Guest

    A very interesting read, but I don't feel that it changes the fact that 95% of Spurs' fans AREN'T Jewish, according to the article, and that the word in question IS divisive. It's probably true that the Jewish population of the Tottenham area is now lower than at any time since WW1, while the Afro-Caribbean population is at an all-time high, and there are no doubt far more Eastern Europeans than Jews in the whole of London, so how can it be appropriate for a London club with followers all over the world to align itself with one numerically small ethnic/religious group?
    In the late '70s Arsenal had a particularly large Irish following, partly because there was still a big Irish presence in Holloway/Finsbury Park, and partly because the team's star players were Brady, Stapleton and O'Leary (plus Terry Neil as manager), and being Irish at that time of IRA bombings and 'The Troubles' made them about as popular as Anna Soubry at a Brexit Party rally, but it didn't turn them into 'Micks' for ever more, perhaps because they've had on-field success to enjoy over the past forty years, rather than become obsessed with side issues like to yid or not to yid, in the absence of trophies. In short, I haven't changed my mind!
    Felon82 likes this.
  16. Craig Emanuel Member

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    Fair enough. I respect your view and appreciate that the connection with the Jewish community may not be significant to many of our non Jewish fans and may make them feel awkward singing those songs.

    The point for me is that the connection is deep rooted and is intrinsic to the history of our great club. The anti Semitic abuse dates back to at least the 1930s with Oswald Moseley and continues to this day. Once you throw away that history, then what are we but another commercial entity like Manchester City and Chelsea have become.

    Similarly, connections with the Jewish community persist with a significant chunk of our fanbase both in Greater London and worldwide and, of course, our current chairman. You must remember that only around 0.5% of the UK population are Jewish so no team is going to have a majority of Jewish fans but our fanbase is disproportionately represented. I would say that out of match going fans, the proportion is a lot higher than 5% but I can’t call upon any stats to back that claim up.

    The demographic profile of Haringey today shouldn’t make a difference. Football has changed and, as you say, our followers now are global. People migrate and many of those working class Jews from the East End of London have climbed the social ladder and have passed their love of Tottenham on to their kids and grandkids, many of whom now live in Essex, Hertfordshire and the London boroughs of Enfield and Barnet (amongst other more affluent outhouses). I am a case in point. But regardless of where our supporters reside and how the demographic profile of our fanbase changes, the story of Tottenham Hotspur throughout the 20th Century and beyond should endure. Of course we evolve and our identity takes on new meanings but we should never forget our history. Otherwise we just become another homogenous global brand.
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  17. Daniel New Member

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    It is a well written argument and I totally agree with what he has written BUT I still feel very uncomfortable in an arena where the word Yid is being shouted as though it has no other meaning.

    It does have another meaning which is wholly offensive and no matter what context people think they're using it in, that doesn't change.

    Calling someone a Paki because it is short for Pakistani doesn't suddenly make the word inoffensive.

    When certain people use the n word in an 'inoffensive' way, we still feel it's inappropriate because it is! An offensive, rude, racist or anti semitic word doesn't change its meaning just because a few people (who are generally ignorant as to the word's real meaning) use it!
  18. Chris Ellis Guest

    If we as Spurs fans stop using the word "Yid" it wont stop opposing fans making hissing noises or other anti-semitic songs!! We can say let's use it now, then say it's wrong before using it again if and when things pick up again. Racism is and sadly always be a constant fight against those that way inclined, therefore so should our fight and defiance against them. Sing it LOUD but most of all sing it PROUD!!! Because we are the "YID ARMY" fighting back against anti-semitism!!

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