The People Of The Ball.

I spent a lovely couple of hours at the Jewish Museum in Camden walking around 4-4-Jew, the exhibition on Jewish involvement in British football.

I admit I thought that after half an hour I would be out of there. I always used to think that Jews in British football started and stopped with Barry Silkman, who played for Crystal Palace, my dad’s team.  But I was still there after two hours and time flew by. It was wonderful.

I sat on an improvised mini-football terrace and watched a 20 minute film  in which pundits, ex-players and ex-Chairmen spoke about their own Jewish involvement in the beautiful game in Britain.

Author and journalist Anthony Clavane related that in the sixties Leeds United fans used to complain that while Leeds Rugby League club had the great Lewis Jones they only had Jewish loans. It was true. But, as Clavane said, had three Jewish Leeds United directors not given Leeds United interest free loans of £10,000 each then Leeds United would have gone bust.

David Bernstein, ex-Chairman of the Football Association, related how the reason he came to support Manchester City was because he loved their Sky Blue shirts. There’s a board at the exhibition on which you can write why you support the football team you do. We each have our own story to tell.

There was a fascinating corner on the time England played Germany at White Hart Lane in 1935. Footage showed the two teams facing each other before the game. During both national anthems and Abide With Me the German team gave the Nazi salute.

How could the FA let this game take place. The Star newspaper described tensions leading up to the match and how Barnett Janner MP (father of Greville) went to the Football Association to protest on behalf of British Jews.

A 1965 Arsenal football programme contains an apology to Arsenal’s Jewish supporters for playing an FA Cup match during Passover. How times change. A few weeks ago Spurs played a game on Yom Kippur without even a word. Maybe Spurs recognised that some Jews would go to that game.

The question left hanging was did football change us or had we changed enough already for that game to have taken place on the holiest day in Judaism?

On the walls were mini screens which showed old footage that lasted no longer than three minutes each. Chief Rabbi Sachs tell the hilarious story of when he went to see Arsenal v Manchester with the Archbishop of Canterbury. They are both Gooners, but Arsenal lost 6-2 at home!

There was a sense at 4-4-Jew that for British Jews football and Judaism are both religions; equally as important. But it shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. Clavane described how Leeds Jews would hide their cars around the corner from synagogue and go off to Elland Road after synagogue. No one admitted it, but they all did it.

And he told how his rabbi bumped into Don Revie, the late Leeds United manager, at a Jewish wedding. The rabbi told Revie that they had the same congregation; he has them in the morning and Revie had them in the afternoon.

You see, it didn’t have to be all or nothing as in keeping Shabbat 100% or not at all. By going to synagogue and then being taken to football at least Jewish children got a sense of the importance of  Shabbat.

There was also a corner of the exhibition analysing Spurs fans singing of “Yid Army” (or the “Y” word lest we offend). There were many quotes from both sides of the argument but how can anyone argue with this quote taken from The Guardian website:

“As a Jewish Spurs fan, it has always been a badge of immense pride to hear 35,000 people at White Hart Lane proudly use an otherwise offensive term as a badge of honour.”

The only thing not to like about 4-4-Jew, for me, is the title of the exhibition. Why did they not call it The People Of The Ball, which I took as the headline for this piece off one of the posters at the exhibition?

“Jew” is also used disparagingly. I can understand the use of “Jews” to describe a collective of people. But “Jew” is used when “Jewish person” is far more preferable.

“Jew” implies that religion is a person’s defining characteristic, when “Jewish person” implies it is one of many. It is a term just as potentially explosive as “Yid”, but no one is banning the “J” word. Even 4-4-Jewish would have been preferable.

So here’s the question for David Baddiel, who wants Spurs fans banned from singing “Yid Army”: What if those fans chanted “Jew Army” instead? It would still invite  sick chants of “Spurs are on their way to Belsen” from opposing fans.

Would Baddiel then campaign that the “J” word be banned as well?

20 responses to “The People Of The Ball.

  1. Funny how history is repeating itself as we speak, today it’s the Palestinians who don’t have any right to exist anywhere, in order not to offend the Jews, anywhere outside London no one would dare mention they are Palestinians, when we’re portrayed as terrorists for trying to exist.

    We don’t have museums about our Nekba, about our heritage, about who we are and how we actually ended up here, we’re scattered around the globe with no identity or nationality.

    Netanyahu claim that supporting us is anti semitism, how exactly did he work that one out, when we’re actually pure semites? at what stage do the facts matter and brain washing propaganda end??

  2. Carol
    If you are indeed Palestinian and not some sock puppet , perhaps you should address these concerns to your leaders past and present . Palestinians have the right to live in a state of their own and hopefully one day they will achieve that statehood . Only it will not be in the state of Israel .
    There have been endless opportunities for the Palestinians to declare statehood starting in 1948 at the end of the British mandate . The Jews accepted the Partition plan while the Arabs rejected it intending to wipe out the newly declared state of Israel . But they failed and have failed ever since .
    Your Nakba is your creation . You reap what you sew .

  3. Harvey, before you start wasting your time with the usual propaganda, why don’t you read some proper history about what really took place

    • richardmillett

      Hi Carol. Do you want a one state solution? Do you not want there to be a two state solution? If you want a one state solution then Israeli Jews will not vote for that. Therefore, to get to your one state solution there will have to be war and bloodshed. Therefore, if that is what you want please tell us how many people you think should die on both sides in the resulting bloodshed before you get to your one state solution. One million? Two million?

      • It’s your support for israeli expansionism and the racist zionist colonists in the occupied territories which will lead to the one state solution milliett

      • “Chaim Pesach”, Please relocate to Gaza, Ramallah to demonstrate Palestinian tolerance.

        You as an “anti-zionist” should be welcomed with open arms.

        Your comrades in Gaza and Ramallah should also tolerate your kind of Jew, and all the necessary services that an Orthodox Jew requires. Markets serving proper Kosher food, synagogues, schools and the rest.

        Let’s see how tolerant and supportive your pals in Gaza and Ramallah are towards you and your community.

    • Carol –

      What you cited is not proper history but propaganda. The opening quote:

      “”We shall try to spirit the penniless [Palestinian] population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, ….”

      was not made about Palestinians and was not Zionist policy. This was a purely speculative entry in Herzl’s private diary in 1895, two years before the 1st Zionist Congress convened and the population he refers to were Amerindians in South America. That’s why [Palestinian] appears in brackets. Assuming you keep a private diary, would you want every word you write open to public scrutiny? Would you be willing to censor your speculative thoughts? Or would you rather see where they lead to?

      Aside from the fact that Herzl never repeated this idea, consider that the notion of transfer was a common feature of the Ottoman Empire (which ended of which the Sanjaks of Beirut, Acre, Nablus and Jerusalem (they weren’t called Palestine) belonged to. The Sublime Porte routinely transferred populations, both sedentary and nomadic, for it’s own political purposes, mostly to prevent concentrations of power. They didn’t just speculate on it – they did it – openly. In this brief entry and this should be placed to Herzl’s credit, something people like IMEU never do (because they aren’t really after understanding, just propaganda) there was an emphasis on compensation and finding employment for those transferred.

      Now the Ben Gurion quotes are just wrong. When BG wrote to his son he wrote:

      “Under no circumstances must we touch land belonging to fellahs or worked by them. Only if a fellah leaves his place of settlement, should we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price.”

      Written statement (1920), as quoted in Teveth, Shabtai (1985), Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs: From Peace to War, Oxford University Press.

      We do not wish, we do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations are built upon the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.

      Letter to his son Amos (5 October 1937), as quoted in Teveth, Shabtai, Ben Gurion: The Burning Ground; and Karsh, Efraim (2000), Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’; this has been extensively misquoted as “[We] must expel Arabs and take their places” after appearing in this form in Morris, Benny (1987), The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949, Cambridge University Press, p. 25. (Benny Morris acknowledges the error and points out that the correct quote “We do not wish” appears in the Hebrew edition of the book.)

      Books such as Avneri’s “The Claim of Dispossession” show that Jewish purchase of land compensated both owner, foreign or domestic, but also tenant farmers. This isn’t “dispossession” but legitimate purchases where compensation took place. It also was part of a global process of urbanization that took place in the earlier part of the 20th century where people in the developing world moved from country to city.

      In other words, the Arabs sold the Jews land (at high prices) and hoped to steal it back in a war. That’s what the “nakba” was about the failed attempt of the Arabs to ethnically cleanse the Jews.

      Finally, to put IMEU and the transfer “argument” to rest, Ben Gurion proposed in conversation with Musa Alaim, Sheikib Arslan, Auni Hadi, Riad al Sulh and Ibsan Bey al Jabri in his book “My Talks With Arab Leaders” that a local Arab Palestinian minority, created not by expulsion but by immigration, would not only be guaranteed their rights by the Jews but also by their relationship of a pan-Arab federation of which the Jewish State would be a member.

  4. Richard, are you the one who raised the questions during the Justice for the Palestinian evening? did you at any stage feel in any way threatened by anyone? what make you think you speak on behalf of all Israeli Jews when during the meeting there were Jews who do not in any way share your opinion, I’m not only talking about the panel here.

    • richardmillett

      At the SOAS event? Yes, that was me. No, i didn’t feel threatened, although I have been threatened at events before. I have met some very nasty people at these meetings; racists and thugs. I can point you to my blog posts about those if you wish. Why do you ask anyway? I don’t speak on behalf of anyone. I only speak for myself.

  5. Are you saying you missed my responses to your blog?? ouch!!
    I answered at least 10 responses and you didn’t notice, my point is that there’s no real threat to Israelis and it’s time to stop this paranoia, people are exhausted and want to live, both Israelis and Palestinians.

    As for one democracy, well it’s been discussed for a while, this will hopefully answer some of your questions

    • Carol said:
      “my point is that there’s no real threat to Israelis ”

      Liar. Liar. Burqa on fire.

  6. What an interesting post, Richard. I’m not much of a footie fan myself, but here in Australia, where Aussie Rules football (not soccer) is a secular religion, rabbis have been known to announce the results of the Cup Final to their expectant congregations on Yom Kippur!

  7. Is it not strange- Here we have an article on Football and sport in general-With its Jewish involvement. Then coupled with , whether the term Yid is offensive when being used to support the Spurs team- And hey presto- along comes Carol and in her impeccable way turns into an anti-Israeli rant.
    I think she would turn a talk on saving the whales into anti-Zionist rhetoric!

  8. Carol
    You quote ‘historical facts ‘. I quote from Abbas himself when he spoke on Palestinian TV saying that he himself along with thousands of other Palestinians left Safed on the instruction of the Arab armies who were intent on wiping out he Jewish population .

    PMW Bulletins
    Abbas’ UN speech contradicts his “refugee” history
    by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Oct. 10, 2013

    More Sharing ServicesShare | Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email Share on print
    Abbas’ UN speech contradicts
    his “refugee” history

    Abbas to UN:
    Arabs of Safed were
    “uprooted and thrown into exile” in 1948

    Abbas on PA TV:
    Arabs of Safed “left” on their own,
    “overcome with fear”

    “The [Arab] Liberation Army retreated from the city [Safed in 1948], causing the [Arab] people to begin emigrating. In Safed, just like Hebron, people were afraid that the Jews would take revenge for the [Arab] massacre [of Jews] in 1929… The people (of Safed in 1948) were overcome with fear, and it caused the people to leave the city in a disorderly way.”

    Resident of refugee camp in West Bank:
    “The Jordanian army… told us: ‘Leave. In 2 hours we liberate it and then you will return.’ We left only with our clothes… why carry anything? We’re still waiting for those 2 hours to this day.”

    by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

    Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently spoke in the UN (Sept. 26, 2013) and claimed:
    “I am personally one of the victims of the Nakba (i.e., “the catastrophe,” Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel), among the hundreds of thousands of my people uprooted in 1948 from our beautiful world and thrown into exile.”

    However, Palestinian Media Watch documented that earlier this year, when describing why he and other Arabs in 1948 left Abbas’ town of birth, Safed, a mixed Jewish Arab town, Abbas did not say that he and other Arabs were “thrown into exile,” but explained that they left on their own out of fear. He stated that in 1929, there had been a “most severe” massacre of Jews in the cities of Safed and Hebron, and that Arab residents of Safed feared the Jews would take revenge. Accordingly, Abbas explained, they left Safed on their own, “overcome with this fear,” and “it caused them to begin to leave the city in a disorderly manner.”

    You carol and the West have been fed a steady diet of lies and propaganda . One version for the UN , another the truth for Palestinian ears .

    As I said your Nakba was of your own construction . You reap what you sew .

  9. I must get along. I was up there for the Amy Winehouse exhibition a month or so back. That was magnificent. Very moving.