Dutch Railways have been forced to apologise after employees sang a “wholly inappropriate” antisemitic football chant over an inter-city train’s PA system.
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) apologised for the incident that took place in the early hours of Saturday morning aboard a train carrying passengers returning to Rotterdam from a carnival in the southern city of Tilburg.
The song Where do the Jews Come From plays on the Jewish links and history of Ajax, Amsterdam’s largest football club.
Dutch Railways, which said it was alerted to the incident after a passenger tweeted about it, said on Sunday: “It is our understanding that a pro-Ajax football song was performed. Let us be very clear: we find this wholly inappropriate.”
A spokesman for the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), which acts as Dutch Jews’ watchdog on antisemitism told Dutch media: “This is another example that we are far from tolerance and forbearance towards Jews in the Netherlands. I find it embarrassing and stupid that this has occurred on an NS train. We cannot accept this.”
CIDI also called on Dutch Railways to distance itself more strongly from the incident, calling on the state-owned firm to “make it clear to everyone that such songs do not belong in a public space.”
Ajax supporters have embraced their club’s Jewish links, and regularly fly Israeli flags and sing songs referring to themselves as Jews at matches.
Rival supporters, however, have adopted increasingly antisemitic chants and imagery as a proxy for their distaste of the Netherland’s most successful team. Songs about Hamas, gas chambers, and Nazis have been a much maligned part of some Dutch fans’ football repertoire.
Chants have increasingly begun to appear in non-football related contexts in recent years, while a debate has been rumbling for years in Dutch media about on the use of antisemitic imagery at football grounds.