Police in the Netherlands are reportedly investigating an April 14 incident where soccer fans were chanting antisemitic phrases at a rally before a game. “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,”could be heard from the fans of the Dutch team Vitesse, which is based in Arnhem.
According to The Times of Israel, fans and opponents of the other team Ajax, which is based in Amsterdam, call Ajax players “Jews,” referring to their home city’s historically large Jewish population.
In 2015, as reported by The Jewish Daily Forward, a similar incident occurred where opponents of Ajax used antisemitic slurs, including “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”
“It is just deeply saddening that a small group of supporters misbehaved in such a way,” said Pascal van Wijk, Director of Vitesse, according to the Netherland’s-based news site Gederlander.
Arnhem Mayor Ahmed Marcouch also condemned the incident as “embarrassing” and encouraged any witnesses to report those involved to the police.
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi of the Netherlands, is expected to meet with Vitesse fans alongside Mayor Marcouch, according to the Algemeiner.
“Clearly the chants are abhorrent and disgusting,” Rabbi Jacobs said in a statement on Wednesday. “They are ignorant and a twin attack on Jews: on Israel and on the Holocaust. The natural reaction is to condemn in the strongest possible terms. We, of course, do so.”
He added that both himself and Marcouch, “a Jew and a Muslim are fully aware of the dangers of ignorant prejudice.”
“We are also fully aware that boxing people in with condemnation can just entrench positions into ‘them and us,’” said the rabbi. “This serves nobody’s interest. Our town hall meeting for which I am grateful to the mayor for initiating, will be a frank, and we imagine difficult, exchange of views. But an entirely necessary one.”
Coen Verheji, PVV party leader, posted on Twitter that the location of the incident, the John Frost Bridge, revealed a very hypocritical element in the fans’ display.
“‘Jews on the gas’ chant on the bridge that is named after a hero who fought against the perpetrators of the Holocaust,” Verheji wrote. “You cannot sink much deeper. Arnhem is ashamed of you!”
The following screenshot of a translated Facebook post by Vitesse fans showed that the group recognized their “inflammatory” rhetoric, saying “The people who chanted this were immediately addressed and this took only a few seconds.”
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