It might be that it is all part of my midlife crises. It might be that I have simply grown up enough to be able to be a kid again or it might be simply that I have, at 45 (ok, 46) started to watch and enjoy “the beautiful game.” Of course it needs to be said that Sepp Blatter and his megalomaniacal tendencies have me riveted more than the game does, but enjoy it I now do. And my team of choice, is Liverpool.
So that’s the preamble. I have no history of being a supporter. I have no real knowledge but I am getting into it. And then…
Last week. Liverpool wished me a Shanah Tovah. Ok, maybe not only me but also their other Jewish supporters. But I was pleased. It made me feel good. It made me feel visible and appreciated. And then…
Before it could properly shared it was gone. Quicker than the Desmond Tutu article on the South Africa Jewish Report (the one where he was compared to Stalin and Hitler). Gone. And the reason? Because of the hate responses that they received. Hate tweets for wishing their Jewish fans a good year. And they buckled and they removed it. They removed a tweet not about Israel. Not about “the conflict”. A tweet that was not anti-Islam but simply one that wished their Jewish fans a sweet new year.
And if that doesn’t break the heart of every Jewish teenage boy and every Jewish teenage dad and every teenage mid life “crisiser” (it’s not a word, I get that) then I am missing something. We have been let down, worse than in the game against West Ham United last week. Worse than when they traded Suarez. Because we have been loyal (some of us for some months now), some of us since birth. And we are Jewish and we expected the same in return. We have done nothing wrong and nothing to deserve that.
The fact that they could wish their Moslem supporters well for Ramadan and not one Jew objected tells you much of the story. We are under attack and Liverpool has no defense (see what I did there).
It is clear and appreciated that Liverpool tried to do something positive for their Jewish supporters. What followed was a barrage of negativity and hate from anti-Semitic fans. They were left with a quandary. Do they remove the wishes along with all the hate speech or stand by their tweet and good intentions but risk this becoming a forum for anti-Semitic verbiage? They chose to remove it and in doing so gave in to the pressure from of the anti-us people. They chose the wrong option.
I guess that the good news in all this is that they did think to wish us a Shanah Tovah. But for me the better news is simply that we can see things for what they are. I am much more comfortable in this space. Hatred and anti-Semitism has never been about Israel even if they have promised us that it is. We were expelled from city after city in Europe, removed from Spain and slaughtered in the millions when we didn’t have our own country. We didn’t have Israel. It was made to be about Jewish greed, Jewish murder of children but the one thing it couldn’t be is about Israel.
And now, once again, the mask has slipped and we are able to see things for what they really are. It is hatred of Jews in any form. When wishing us a good year is too hard to stomach and when Liverpool concedes and removes the tweet then we are indeed at the bottom of the table.
Will it affect Jewish support of Liverpool? Probably not. A real supporter doesn’t walk away from his team when they fumble. But we do need to acknowledge that the play was poor and leadership lacking. And worst of all, they made me feel like I was indeed walking alone.