'Hamas, Hamas, Jews on the Gas': Dutch Police Investigating Anti-Semitic Chant Ahead of Soccer Game

Police are looking into footage of soccer fans in the Netherlands chanting "Hamas, Hamas, Jews on the gas," ahead of a match against a team known for attracting Jewish supporters.

Ajax, an Amsterdam-based soccer club, is known as the "Jewish club," and has fans that affectionately refer to themselves as "Super Jews." It's caused the team to become a target of anti-Semitic rhetoric and last week's match against Vitesse in Arnhem wasn't the first time attendees used the "Hamas, Jews on the gas," chant.

"It is downright sad that a small part was unable to behave," Pascal Van Wijk, director of Vitesse, told Gelderlander, a regional newspaper, according to a translation. "We explicitly distance ourselves from this."

Van Wijk went on to say that the Arnhem-based soccer club isn't alone in its condemnation and that the "vast majority" of supporters who behave "fully agree" the behavior is unacceptable. They've "openly" and from the heart "condemned the misconduct of the individuals."

Mayor Ahmed Marcouch also condemned the chant as "embarrassing" to the community and encouraged people to report any information they had about the people involved to the police. Officials are investigating the matter, according to the Times of Israel, and the Central Jewish Consultation called for legal action to be taken.

Supporters chanted the slogan while on the John Frost Bridge, where they hung a banner and set off fireworks, and the symbolism of the location was not lost on people. The bridge is named after John Frost, a British major-general, who led a heroic assault on German forces in September 1944 despite being significantly outnumbered.

"'Jews on the gas' chant on the bridge that is named after a hero who fought against the perpetrators of the Holocaust," Coen Verheji, party leader of the PVV, posted on Twitter. "You cannot sink much deeper. Arnhem is ashamed of you!"

ajax antisemitis hamas jews on gas
Dutch police are investigating soccer fans who chanted "Hamas, Hamas, Jews on the gas," ahead of a match. Above, an Israeli flag is shown by Ajax supporters during the Champions League Match between Ajax and Valencia in the Amsterdam Arena on March 3, 2003, in Amsterdam. Vi Images/Getty Images

Organizers of the April 14 display on the bridge posted on Facebook that it was intended to show support for the Vitesse players ahead of the KNVB Cup final match, which was played on Sunday. They acknowledged people used "inflammatory" rhetoric, according to a Facebook translation, but said they were "immediately addressed."

In 2017, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) called for supporters of the Alkmaar Zaanstreek, a Dutch soccer club commonly referred to as AZ, to be prosecuted for using anti-Semitic taunts. During a match against Ajax, CIDI said supporters chanted, "My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burn Jews because Jews burn the best."

The club took action against those involved but the CIDI said the only way to combat discriminatory chants is to draw a "clear line" and show people they're prohibited by law.

When Feyenoord fans used the chant in 2019 ahead of a match that took place on International Holocuast Remembrance Day, police fined them 500 euros. Vitesse also banned six supporters from the stadium after they yelled the "Hamas, Jews on the gas," chant during a 2018 match against Ajax.

"People are using this to make the most horrible songs, and they say, 'Yeah, but it's against Ajax, it's not against Jews,'" Esther Voet, editor of the NIW, a weekly Jewish newspaper, told CNN in 2019.

David Endt, Ajax's former general manager, told CNN he wasn't fond of the team's supporters calling themselves "Jews," even if it's done in an affectionate way. By taking on that identity, he said it gives people an "alibi" to shout horrible things and hurt people "who have nothing to do with football."

Supporters are known to walk behind the Israeli flag and bring it with them to games and Endt acknowledged that it's a symbol of support. But, he called it "the wrong symbol" and advocated for teaching younger kids about the meaning of the Jewish flag.

A police spokesman told Gerlander fighting discrimination is a "high priority" so they were going to investigate the matter. However, the spokesman added that their investigation depends on the information they receive from the public.

Newsweek reached out to the Netherlands police, Ajax and Vitesse for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.