Far-right French Jews Said to Be Among Rioters at Beitar Jerusalem Game

Jewish Defense League leader says his group will continue defending Israel and the Jewish people at European sporting events.

Screengrab: Sport 5

Beitar Jerusalem fans have claimed that among the rioters at Thursday's game against Sporting Charleroi were right-wing extremists from France.

Of the 800 fans at the game, which went sour when supporters of the Israeli team tossed smoke bombs onto the field and wounded the opponents' goalkeeper with an unidentified object, some 100 are thought to have been members of France’s Jewish Defense League, or Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ), the local branch of the militant group associated with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans holding the flag of Meir Kahane's racist, outlawed  Kach movement.
Haggai Aharon

In an interview with Israel's Sport 5 news published Monday, the head of the LDJ, who asked to remain anonymous, said the organization was provoked by anti-Semitic incitement among fans of the Belgian team. "[When they] raised their hands in Nazi salutes, that's what lit our fuse," the LDJ leader told Sport 5, adding that the Belgian police "did not intervene. They did nothing."

The LDJ leader said the group arrived at the game in Belgium to "defend the honor of Israel and the Jewish people. As far as we're concerned, the Holocaust is holy. To spit on the graves of 6 million victims is a very severe [act.]"

He told Sport 5 that the group attends European sporting events to defend Israel and the Jewish people. "At every sporting event of this sort, there are Palestinian flags, shirts with [the image of anti-Semitic comedian] Dieudonné, Nazi salutes, and insults against Israel and the Jewish people," he said.

The leader added that his organization would "continue attending the games of Israeli teams in Europe," except that of Hapoel Beer Sheva, who is scheduled to play against Thun in Sweden this Thursday. "Beer Sheva = Hapoel = left[-wing]," he said. "That's not our ideology."