Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Non-Israeli Soccer for Israelis - AJAX!!!


I should warn you that before reading this article it might change your plans for your future vacation to Amsterdam. Instead of going to a museum or just riding the bicycle around the lovely streets of Amsterdam, you might find yourself in the middle of a soccer match wearing the red and white shirt of Ajax Amsterdam.
The local soccer club which had its glory days at the beginning of the 70’s and mid-90 has a strong connection to Judaism.
Journalist Simon Kuper explains how Ajax has become a synonym name for Jews in the Netherlands. In his book, “Ajax, The Dutch, The War”, Kuper provides explanations to the mysterious connection between the Jewish people and Ajax. Their old stadium was located not far from the Jewish neighborhood so most Jews who wanted the watch soccer had no choice but taking the “Ajax line” of the tram to “De Meer” stadium. The large Jewish community embraced the team and made every Sunday afternoon a celebration. Even some Jewish players have found themselves playing for the club.
The situation remained this way even after World War II, with the survivors returning to their homes in Amsterdam. The lonely people who lost almost everything and everyone they knew found comfort and a connection to Ajax.
Ajax’s rival teams, Feyenoord and Dan Haag gave Ajax’s fans the nickname, “Jews”. Hateful and stupid anti-Semitic songs have spread around football stadiums in the Netherlands. A Rabbi in Rotterdam has described how he would walk in the streets and kids would yell at him, “Ajax!, Ajax!.”
Despite that, or because of that, Ajax’s fans decided to adopt the Jewish symbol. During Ajax’s game beside the red and white flags, you can find Israeli flags and banners with the Star of David.
The biggest fans of Ajax is an organization called “F-Side.” They changed their symbol to the Star of David and many of the members have a “Jewish Star” tattooed even though aren’t Jewish.
When Maccabi Tel Aviv played against Ajax in the champions league both supporters held Israeli flags at the Amsterdam Arena. This gave the impression of an Israel national team home game.
The local Jewish community was not pleased with the increase of the anti-Semitic songs around the country. Although the hate was directed at Ajax and not the Jewish community, some feared it would attract some trouble to the community.
The local government interfered to stop the racism around the country. Some suggested even to ban the Israeli flag from Ajax games. But the courts decided to ban any kind of anti-Semitic songs at Ajax football games. Singing the racist songs can be sent to prison and be banned from soccer stadiums all over the country for the rest of his life.
The connection between Judaism and Ajax has made the club very popular in Israel. In the club’s glory days, Ajax was the most popular European club. Their recent failures (for the last fifteen years) have given teams with the large money from Spain and England an advantage. Nonetheless, the Dutch national team is very popular and many of Israelis pick the Netherlands as their team due to the absence of Israel in the World Cup. Any victory for the Dutch team is celebrated in the bars of Tel Aviv and the more they continue their run in the World Cup, the more you will see the famous orange jerseys in the streets.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not sure if I take the Ajax support as endearing. It's also very disturbing what opposing teams are doing at games. By the way, a similar situation can be found in England with Tottenham in the EPL. The team has been nicknamed the "Yids" by fans for their large Jewish support group. Again, I"m not sure if such stereotyping doesn't cause more harm than good. I try not to be too sensitive, and I guess you can spin it somewhat positively, but can you imagine if a team was called the "blackies," etc., just because a large contingent of fans happened to be black. I'm sure the level of outrage would be much higher, but as usual when it comes to Jews the boundaries of political correctness are always stretched much further.

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  2. i have nothing against jews but,fuck israel

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