Comedian David Baddiel has responded to charges of hypocrisy after a picture was posted online showing a book he’d signed for a fan, reading: “To Mark. You big Yiddo. David Baddiel”.
The image was posted on Twitter through a news site for fans of football club Tottenham Hotspur.
Supporters of the North London club proudly call themselves the ‘Yid Army’ and some are angry that the Jewish Chelsea fan has fronted a campaign calling for the word to be outlawed on the terraces.
Baddiel responded, saying that he was asked to sign it in that way. “I’ve signed many books and photos over the years,” he said. “People often ask me to write things.”
He continued: “Clearly, many years ago, this Mark bloke – who I don’t know – asked me to do that and uncomfortable though I might have been I didn’t object; just as, for many years, uncomfortable though I might have been, I didn’t object to the chant and the associated anti-Semitic abuse it sustains at football matches.”
He added: “There was an incident at Chelsea where me and my brother were racially abused by a Chelsea fan shouting F*ck the Yids! F*ck the fucking Yids! (and then: F*ck the f*cking Jews!) and it made us think: enough is enough. There is no hypocrisy in that chronology.”
Posted in early December, the picture invited a tirade from fans. “What a hypocrite he is,” wrote one site visitor. Another wrote: “What a tool!!” Several others were even more vitriolic.
Last year Baddiel, who made a film highlighting the problem, wrote: “The thing to remember about yid is it’s a race-hate word. It was daubed across the East End by Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts.”
Baddiel has argued that the continuing use of the Y-word by Spurs fans “informs and sustains the racist abuse” aimed at Spurs by other fans.
When challenged on Twitter, Baddiel appeared to accept that his had written it, saying: “There is a difference between ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘time passing’.”
However, the reasoning did little to assuage supporters, with one fan asking: “Wasn’t that Stuart Hall’s defence too?” Another wrote: “Quoting Russell Brand won’t get you out of this one… an explanation perhaps?”
Meanwhile, three arrests have been made in the last two weeks, in relation to anti-Semitic comments made online. One man, from Canning Town, was arrested on 5 December for inciting racial hatred, while two men in their twenties were detained last week, and were bailed until late January.
According to a Haringey police spokesperson, the men were arrested after comments were posted on Twitter referring to the gas chambers and Hitler.
The crackdown comes after the Football Association ruled that anyone chanting the word ‘Yid’ could be prosecuted.
In October, a 51-year old became the first Spurs fan to be arrested for use of the term. He is due to find out whether he faces charges on 23 December.