Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Welsh Athlete Targeted by Antisemitic Hate Messages

One of the United Kingdom’s few professional Jewish soccer players has spoken out on the antisemitic abuse he has faced from fans as a result of a social media post he shared following the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel.

“For me, I feel a responsibility as one of the few Jewish footballers in the UK to speak out,” Joe Jacobson told the BBC in an extensive interview on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old veteran is the captain of Wycombe Wanderers, who compete in League One — the third tier of English professional soccer. During a 20-year career in the game, Jacobson said he had never seriously been confronted with antisemitism until the Hamas atrocities.

Anger turned on Jacobson in the wake of the massacre in Israel, when he referred in a post on X/Twitter to the scenes of jubilation in Gaza following the bloodshed. “Imagine taking to the streets and celebrating mass murder,” Jacobson wrote.

Jacobson was promptly inundated with antisemitic abuse. “It is hate messages,” he said. “It’s not anything to do with what I’m posting, it’s just comments that people want to throw at you really.”

He emphasized that in the past, whenever he had “spoken about antisemitism there wasn’t much for me to talk about from my own personal experience. However, since what happened in October, it seems to be more and more things going on.”

Threatening messages were also sent to Jacobson’s club, forcing them to provide him with extra security.

“One of them wasn’t necessarily a threat, but more a demand that I apologize and demanded that the club took me away from being the captain,” said Jacobson. “They said if they didn’t, then they might barricade the gates at Adams Park [Wycombe’s home ground]. Then going to a match, there was all these weird things happening, with people wanting to come with me on the journey, and there were phone calls to friends on the journey saying where were we.”

Jacobson said that when he “got out of the car in the car park there were people surrounding me, Wycombe staff saying ‘come on Joe, let’s go into the stadium.’ And that is really different and abnormal to what it usually is. Later on I found out that they had plain clothes security there just in case people were looking to do something … It was something I didn’t realize would have to happen going to a football match.”

Jacobson encouraged fans who witness antisemitic incidents to report them to soccer’s governing authorities in order for the scale of the problem to be properly understood. According to Kick It Out, an anti-discrimination charity focused on soccer, there was an increase of more than 400 percent in antisemitic acts during the first half of the present soccer season, with reported instances over that period rising from 11 in the 2022-23 season to 57 in the current campaign.