Police in the Netherlands on Saturday night arrested more than 150 AZ Alkmaar fans for chanting antisemitic slogans on their way to an Eredivisie match against Ajax in the Johan Cruijff Arena, the home of Ajax Amsterdam. The Eredivisie is the highest level of professional football in the Netherlands. The two teams tied 0-0, leaving Ajax in third place, only two points ahead of fourth-place AZ Alkmaar.
Ajax has had a Jewish image since the 1930s when its home stadium (not yet named after Johan Cruijff) was located next to a Jewish neighborhood of Amsterdam-Oost, and many of its fans were local Jews from what was known as Jodenhoek—the “Jews’ corner.” Since the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, Amsterdam was known for centuries as a “makom,” meaning “place” in Hebrew, meaning safe haven, so much so that Dutch slang uses “mokum” to mean the Netherlands.
Over the decades, as antisemitic chants and name-calling developed and intensified at the old De Meer Stadion, voiced mostly by the frustrated fans of losing teams, Ajax fans, the majority of whom are not Jewish, embraced Ajax’s Jewish identity and started calling themselves the “super Jews,” chanting “Joden, Joden” to support their team, and waving the Star of David and the Israeli flag.
In response, their opponents escalated their antisemitic rhetoric, with slogans like “Hamas, Hamas, Joden aan het gas”), followed by a hissing sound imitating the flow of gas. They also gave the Nazi salute, because, you know, fans.
The police reported that the AZ supporters were warned several times to stop their repugnant chanting Saturday night. Some of the detained fans also allegedly committed acts of vandalism.
Central Jewish Consultation chairman Chanan Hertzberger said in response: “The Central Jewish Consultation is satisfied with the decision to intervene and directly combat antisemitism.”