Amsterdam’s Jewish History Lives on in Language and Soccer

Last week, the Mosaic columnist Philologos delved into the impact of Yiddish on contemporary Dutch slang via a thieves’ argot called Bargoens. Matt Lebovic presents some further examples, including a popular nickname for Amsterdam itself:

Many of the words [that have made their way into Dutch] have Hebrew origins, making it possible for Hebrew-speakers to fish out lef (courage, or heart), ponum (face), or brooche (blessing) in a conversation. . . .  The word Mokum, [from the Hebrew word meaning] “place,” is to Amsterdam what “Big Apple” is to New York. . . . In 1955, the Dutch singer Johnny Jordaan scored a hit with the bouncy “I Prefer Amsterdam”. . . . “I prefer to be in Mokum without money, than to be in Paris with one million,” crooned Jordaan. . . . “Mokum is my paradise.” . . .

Among its public appearances in recent years, the song “I Prefer Amsterdam” was played at the 2013 Ajax championship. As the Netherlands’ most legendary soccer team, Ajax—called “the pride of Mokum”—had several Jewish players and owners before World War II. The squad continues to be associated with Jews and Israel, but not always in a warm context.

To the south of Amsterdam, fans of rival team Feyenoord Rotterdam have been known to hiss loudly, “like gas chambers,” when competing against the . . . “Jewish” Ajax. Chants of “Jews to the gas” are sometimes heard in the Rotterdam stadium, including when the “Super Jew” fans of Mokum’s Ajax unfurl their Israeli flags and sing “Havah Nagilah.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Amsterdam, Anti-Semitism, Dutch Jewry, History & Ideas, Soccer, Yiddish


How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy