Sport and Leisure History
9 May 2011
Dr David Dee (De Montfort University)
The British Union of Fascists and the ‘Sporting Jew’, 1935-1939

The Blackshirt newspaper circulation office

In the 1930s the British Union of Fascists (BUF) published two newspapers which promoted their anti-Semitic agenda.  The first was The Black Shirt, a paper intended for a working class readership.  The second was entitled Action and was intended for a more middle class reader and was much more similar to a standard paper of the day.  Using these publications Dr David Dee demonstrates that the conception of the Jewish Hidden Hand (a claim that Jews were using, abusing and controlling too much of British wealth, politics and society) and the claim that Jews were an ‘alien’ intruder on British soil, were demonstrated through comments on politics, the arts, and equally importantly their connection to sport.  The Jew had no conception of fair play, the BUF claimed.  The Jew would get in the way of other golfers and were unable to grasp the etiquettes involved in cricket.   The often cited fear that Jews had too much control over banking and finance was also cited by the BUF in terms of damaging sports such as boxing, horseracing, and football.  In all Dee identifies sport as an essential element in the BUF’s anti-Semitic argument.  Indeed, sport was considered by the BUF as a vital signifier of Britishness which in their eyes represented a militaristic masculine ideology.  The Jewish involvement and visibility in sport was therefore attacked in these newspapers on a regular basis and (unlike most fascist groups of the era) seems to have had a very real impact on the beliefs and perceptions of the British public. 

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