Tag Archives: Chelsea

Fanatics sing on despite racist protests as Maccabi Tel Aviv crash at Chelsea.

Chelsea and Maccabi Tel Aviv line up before kick off last night.

Chelsea and Maccabi Tel Aviv line up before kick off last night.

Chelsea and Maccabi Tel Aviv supporters were greeted with the usual racist scenes before and after last night’s UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge which the Israeli side lost 4-0.

Maccabi Tel Aviv were never really in it as the step up to Champions League football after 11 absent years proved beyond them.

However, their 3000 traveling supporters, the Fanatics, jumped up and down and sang throughout the game. And they had a chance to celebrate when Eden Hazard blasted his penalty over the bar when the score was still 0-0.

Before the game about 8 to 10 anti-Israel activists outside the ground welcomed refugees but not the players of the Israeli side. And after the game a more aggressive group screamed for the destruction of Israel. The protests had little impact on the fans of both sides apart from being a little irritating.

The Chelsea programme had an interview with ex-Maccabi Tel Aviv player, now Chelsea’s Technical Director, Michael Emenalo who had good things to say about the Israeli club and Tel Aviv:

“Tel Aviv exceeded my expectations in every possible way. A lot of cities claim to be fun, but Tel Aviv was definitely a fun city. From a football point of view, the atmosphere was good and it got better when Maccabi played Hapoel Tel Aviv. You really feel the fever when they play each other in the Bloomfield Stadium, which they now share.”

Tough games against Dynamo Kiev and Porto are on the horizon and the return game against Chelsea in Israel is on November 24th.

The Fanatics will be enjoying their away days but it’s hard to see Maccabi Tel Aviv qualifying for the next stage.

Eden Hazard about to blast his penalty over the bar in front of the 3000 Fanatics.

Eden Hazard about to blast his penalty over the bar in front of the 3000 Fanatics.

At least look as if you're having fun.

At least look as if you’re having fun.

Surely a breach of copyright law. Anyone want to litigate?

Surely a breach of copyright law. Anyone want to litigate?

All dressed up, nowhere to go.

All dressed up, nowhere to go.

Cold, wet and miserable...

Cold, wet and miserable…

Watching you watching me.

Watching you watching me.

Isn't hanging signs from neck reminiscent of Jews during the Holocaust?

Isn’t hanging signs from neck reminiscent of Jews during the Holocaust?

Screaming for Israel's destruction after the match.

Screaming for Israel’s destruction after the match.

Anti-Semitism, football and that Daily Mail article.

If you are at White Hart Lane today to see Spurs v West Ham you risk being arrested for singing “Yid Army” or “Yiddoes”, typical refrains of the Spurs faithful.

Not an ounce of malice is intended, but just because a few with fame and influence, like David Baddiel, have complained about “Yid” being used in this context the Metropolitan Police have taken a stand starting with today’s game.

I’m Jewish. I like hearing Spurs sing “Yid army”. No harm is intended. It is a bit of fun. Spurs have a lot of Jewish supporters and have a Jewish chairman, Jewish directors and once had a Jewish manager in David Pleat. Spurs fans are embracing that positively.

It is a far cry from calling someone a “dirty Yid” which is obviously racist. That prefix makes all the difference.

It is sad that the police have been taken in by Baddiel. When playing Spurs certain opposition fans chant “Spurs are on their way to Belsen” (some Leeds United fans) or hiss to imitate the sound of Zyklon B being thrown into the gas chambers by the Nazis (some Chelsea fans). That’s racism. Arrest those racist thugs, but not Spurs fans who intend no racism at all.

It’s not just Baddiel. The British public is being taken in by the likes of Owen Jones and Jonathan Freedland who are crying “anti-Semitism!” due to that Daily Mail article headlined “The Man Who Hated Britain” about Ralph Miliband, Ed Miliband’s father.

Ralph was Jewish. He was a refugee. He was a Communist thinker. Any of these three aspects have been deadly for Jews in the past, admittedly.

But, does this now mean that we cannot criticise a Jewish person with Ralph’s background, or any Jewish person?

This is Owen Jones:

“As others have pointed out, this whole episode reeks of anti-Semitism – of the rootless cosmopolitan Jew with contempt for his country, and so on.”

Even Ed Miliband who has spent the week coming to his father’s defence on radio, tv and in print, doesn’t sense any anti-Semitism in the affair, but to Jones it “reeks” of anti-Semitism? Wow!

Jonathan Freedland digs even deeper in his attempt to make the “anti-Semitic” label stick:

“This is why I…stopped at the reference in Tuesday’s editorial to “the jealous God of Deuteronomy.” That looked like another veiled pointer to both Miliband Sr’s indelible alienness – and his membership of an ancient, vengeful people.”

This is what the Mail actually wrote on that score:

“We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons. But when a son with prime ministerial ambitions swallows his father’s teachings, as the younger Miliband appears to have done, the case is different.”

So the Mail is using this biblical reference as an example of what generally shouldn’t happen. That’s all. Based on Freedland’s assertion we should now be careful lest we associate any biblical reference directly or indirectly with a Jewish person. How sad.

And Marc Goldberg is easily influenced by Daniel Trilling’s attack on the Mail in the New Statesman. Trilling writes “The subtext…is that there’s something foreign about Ed Miliband himself”. Goldberg empathises:

“..if even Ralph Miliband, the Marxist who left his Judaism way behind him and sired the head of the Labour Party could come under attack for not being British enough, then maybe the rest could too.”

Even Charles Moore accuses the Mail of “attacking a Jew”!

There are many other examples of this hyperbolic response to the Mail’s attack on Ralph Miliband. Commentators should attack real examples of anti-Semitism before trying to board the “it’s anti-Semitism!” bandwagon.

Alex Brummer, who is a journalist for the Mail, thinks apologies should be made by those who have suggested anti-Semitism by the Daily Mail. He’s right.

As Ed Miliband, himself, said when asked if the Daily Mail was being anti-Semitic:

“I’m always incredibly careful about throwing around the idea that the paper or somebody is anti-Semitic or racist unless there is real evidence for that.”

Final PSC protest against Veolia at Natural History Museum.

Face of hate against Israel's existence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Face of hate against Israel's existence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Yesterday saw the end of the Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition sponsored by Veolia at the Natural History Museum and so Saturday was the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s final protest against Veolia.

PSC activists have been protesting against Veolia’s ongoing projects in Israel eventhough Veolia is doing a great job improving transportation links there, including for the local Arab population.

The PSC is a slick, well-funded operation producing thousands of anti-Israel leaflets and signs. Its ultimate aim is the destruction of Israel. On Saturday there were about 15 anti-Israel activists.

The four pro-Israel counter-demonstrators came with a small bundle of leaflets, one sign and a couple of Israeli flags.

As people queued for the museum the PSC activists handed out their leaflets and it was sad seeing some listening with sympathy to what they were being told about both Israel and Veolia.

As an aside you sometimes overhear small snippets about the lives of these PSC activists. The woman pictured above said she’s an Arsenal season ticket holder, which explains her absence when Arsenal are at home. Another PSC activist is a Chelsea season ticket holder, which explained his absence on Saturday.

I suggested to the woman that instead of going to Arsenal she should be offering the proceeds of her highly expensive season ticket to the poor Palestinian people who she claims to care so much about, but she replied:

“Unlike you I’m a well-rounded individual.”

Without wishing to cast aspersions on Gooners the fact that when this woman is not at the Emirates Stadium she spends her time holding up horrendous placards in public with the ultimate intent of destroying the Jewish state is hardly evidence of well-roundedness.

But, as they say, each to their own.

Photos from Saturday:

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Should Israel be in the Asian qualifying section for the World Cup Finals?

Israel at the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Israel at the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Last Saturday night the draw took place for the qualifying rounds of the 2014 World Cup finals and the Jewish Chronicle has published my piece about Israel being disadvantaged by playing in the European qualifying section, as opposed to the Asian qualifying section.

They put my piece up against an excellent one by Simon Griver, an Israel-based sports correspondent, and are conducting a poll: Should Israel be in the Asian World Cup group?

At the moment the “Yeas” have it 59% to 41%.

Thanks to CifWatch for the idea for my piece.

Champagne all round if my argument has continued to win out by next week.

Should Israel be in the European qualifying section for the World Cup finals?

No (me):

We know that most Middle Eastern countries refuse to play Israel, but this is contrary to Fifa’s “Say No to Racism” campaign and Article 3 of the Fifa statute, which states that discrimination on account of “ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason” is punishable by suspension or expulsion.

Those countries that object to playing against Israel should really be expelled from Fifa. But Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Qatar are set to begin their 2014 qualifiers.

Israel’s only appearance in the finals was in Mexico in 1970, when they competed in the Asia qualifying section. Which begs the question: how much better would Israel do if they were playing these far weaker Asian nations?

Israel is ranked 32 in the world. Of the 20 countries in the Asian qualifying section only two, Australia (23) and Korea Republic (28), are ranked above Israel. Had Israel been in the Asia qualifying section, they would have been seeded and, one imagines, would easily have overcome the likes of Iran (54), Saudi Arabia (92), Syria (104), Qatar (90) and Thailand (119). Thailand are there by dint of just beating Palestine (166) in the earlier elimination rounds.

But with Portugal (7) and Russia (18) in Israel’s European group, qualifying is going to be very difficult.

And what about next year’s Olympics? The Charter of the International Olympic Committee states that discrimination “on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise” is incompatible with the Olympic Movement.

But Iran will not compete against Israeli athletes. At the recent swimming world championships in Shanghai, an Iranian swimmer, Mohammad Alirezaei, withdrew from a breaststroke heat in which Israel’s Gal Nevo was swimming. He did the same at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Most likely the shame of losing to Israel is the primary motivation.

Yes (Simon Griver):

Israel’s chances of reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 look slim after being drawn in Group F alongside Portugal and Russia.

Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg are also in the group. One UK bookmaker makes Israel 20-1 outsiders to top the group and automatically qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1970, and 4-1 to finish second and thus take part in the play-offs, probably against one of Europe’s powerhouses.

It would be much easier for Israel to reach Brazil if Yossi Benayoun and co were playing in the Asia Confederation, which expelled Israel in 1973. Yet even in the unlikely event that Middle East peace materialises, Israelis would reject rejoining Asia out of hand.

Israel joined Uefa in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had routinely vetoed Israel’s candidacy. Some sporting associations such as basketball had even joined their European federations before the Soviet demise.

The odds of reaching the World Cup finals may have lengthened but European competition has its compensations. Israel also takes part in the Euro football championships as well as a wide range of other national competitions, and will host the Euro 2013 Under-21 championships.

More significantly, Israel’s club sides get to play in the highly lucrative Champions League and Europa League. Israeli fans can reminisce about Hapoel Tel Aviv dumping Chelsea out of the Uefa Cup, or Maccabi Haifa hammering Manchester United 3-0 in the Champions League.

In football, hope springs eternal and upsets are likely. Avram Grant’s Israel was only beaten on goal difference to a World Cup 2006 play-off place. Besides, Israelis think of themselves as being in Europe rather than Asia, and competitive visits by the likes of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo help nurture the geographical illusion.