“Together we’ll burn Jews, because Jews burn the best.”
This is the vile anti-Semitic soccer chant often heard during matches connected to Amsterdam’s Ajax football team. Their players and supporters are often dubbed “Jews” because of the historic Jewish presence in the city, which is sometimes colloquially called “Mokum” after the Yiddish word for “place.”
However, high school pupils of Elde College in the town of Schijndel, 70 miles southeast of Amsterdam decided to repeat the chant during their recent graduation gala ceremony, the Brabants Dagblad daily reported on Wednesday.
The student body and organizing committee of the Elde College gala expressed their sincere apologies for the incident, but Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said the guilty parties “must be prosecuted for hate speech.”
Jacobs referenced the incident during his speech earlier this week in Vught, at a ceremony for Jewish Holocaust victims at a former Nazi internment camp. “Only six years ago, we were profoundly shocked when two young men screamed ‘Heil Hitler’ during a commemoration ceremony at Vught,” he said. “But today, this wouldn’t be so shocking anymore. It is happening all the time in the Netherlands, and we must face this change with honesty, and combat it with education and severe punishments for violators.”
The Chief Rabbi’s own home in Amersfoort has been attacked five times in recent years, especially during periods of unrest in Israel.
Dutch football team, PSV Eindhoven have been criticised for its response to a video of some of its fans filmed recently singing about burning Jews.
In the video, which was posted online yesterday (May 10), several dozen fans of the club were filmed at a McDonald’s singing a song that last year brought another Dutch team, FC Utrecht, into disrepute.
“My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews ’cause Jews burn the best,” the PSV Eindhoven fans allegedly sang.
PSV Eindhoven’s spokesman, Thijs Slegers, told the Eindhovens Dagblad daily that while the club will study the footage to see if those filmed belong to the team, “If that’s not the case, there’s nothing we can do,” he said.
Slegers also said there is no proof the video was recorded Monday and that while the chant featured “a horrible text” his club needs “to study what went on” during the scene filmed.
A spokesman for the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, which is a major Dutch watchdog on anti-Semitism, told the RTL broadcaster that “the images don’t lie.”
CIDI has filed a complaint with police for incitement against the people filmed singing.
Last year, the Dutch soccer association slapped FC Utrecht with a $12,000 fine on fans who sang the same song and another chant about Hamas and “sending Jews to the gas” during a match against Ajax.
Ajax and its supporters are often dubbed “Jews” because of the historical Jewish presence in Amsterdam, which is sometimes colloquially called “Mokum” after the Yiddish word for “place.”
Some Ajax fans embrace the label, and some have brought Israeli flags to matches before it was banned on the grounds that it invites anti-Semitic abuse.
On Monday, mass celebrations broke out in the Dutch eastern city after Eindhoven had clinched the Dutch Eredivisie league title by beating PEC Zwolle 3-1 on Sunday while Ajax could only manage a 1-1 draw at second-last De Graafschap. It was the second successive Eredivisie title for the club.
Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi has urged the country’s Evangelical Reformed Church to remove Jewish headstones being used as stairs to a Vilnius church.
Rabbi Chaim Burshtein’s call concerns a 30-foot-long staircase made out of Jewish headstones that leads to the main entrance of the church’s largest building in the Lithuanian capital.
The headstones were installed when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union.
“We regret the deplorable state and destruction of the last remnants of the memory of Lithuanian Jewry,” Burshtein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).
Lithuania, he added, “has many places built out of Jewish headstones. I think the authorities and the Jewish community need to perform thorough research and correct at least this historic wrong.”
The building, which was confiscated by the government during communist rule, was returned to the church after Lithuania’s independence and, following renovations, reopened in 2007.
“These headstones need to be removed and preserved,” Dovid Katz, a Yiddish scholar and member of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, told JTA. “It is very painful that, in Lithuania, which likes to boast about its commitment to preserving the memory of its once great Jewish community, churchgoers literally walk over Jewish headstones on their way to pray.”