I wasn’t going to write about “la quenelle.” Some things are just too stupid. But even particularly stupid things sometimes have a lesson to teach.
So what is the ‘quenelle’?
It is a the combination of an inverted Nazi salute and a traditional French gesture meaning “fuck you,” popularized by a French ‘comedian’ named Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala.
The gesture has spread rapidly in France. Jean-Yves Camus, a French academic who studies the extreme right, says the quenelle has become a “badge of identity, especially among the young, but it is doubtful that all of them understand its true meaning”. Dieudonné, Mr Camus adds, has become the hero of a movement which sprawls across the traditional boundaries of right and left – anti-system, hungry for conspiracy theories, convinced that the world is run by Washington and Tel Aviv [sic]. Mr Camus says that the “spinal column” of the movement is the conviction that “the Jews pull all the strings”.
Despite several convictions for anti-Semitic remarks, Dieudonné has strayed once again over the boundary between self-proclaimed anti-Zionism and outright provocation. During his one-man show, he attacked Patrick Cohen, a Jewish radio journalist who has publicly criticised him. Dieudonné said: “When the wind turns, I don’t think he’ll have time to pack a suitcase. When I hear Patrick Cohen talking, you see, I think of gas ovens.” France Inter, the radio station for which Mr Cohen works, has brought a case against Dieudonné for provoking racial hatred.
It has become a sport to take photographs of oneself making the quenelle in front of places of Jewish significance, like synagogues, Auschwitz, the Kotel, etc., or with unsuspecting Jews (photos courtesy Algemeiner.com).
Here is Dieudonné [“God’s gift”] himself performing the quenelle:
Dieudonné has made a career of skirting French anti-racism laws, denying the Holocaust and being as offensive as possible to Jews. According to one observer, he has started a genuine movement:
Yaakov Haguel, head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Countering Anti-Semitism which organized the New York conference, “The Countering Anti-Semitism and Delegitimization of Israel Conference,” said the salute has already caught on around the world.
“It’s gaining more and more momentum, spreading on the Internet and social networks and turning into a clear Nazi symbol, and it doesn’t appear to be a passing phenomenon,” Haguel told Yedioth Ahronot. “It’s spreading to Israel too these days, and we must acknowledge that and stop it.”
Addressing the conference, Haguel said, “The recent anti-Semitic incidents point to an alarming trend of hatred of Jews around the world and particularly in the U.S., which is considered by many the safest place for Jews. Unfortunately, we are witnessing dozens of anti-Semitic incidents on average within one week across the U.S.”
I said there was a lesson in all this, and there is. It is that nothing plays better when things are going to hell than blaming the Jews, especially in Europe, where the indigenous European cultures are rapidly committing demographic suicide while being swamped by rapidly growing Muslim populations. I can’t say if popular Jew-hatred is increasing in the US, but if it is, it’s related to the job-free economy. Here too it is a right/left phenomenon: traditional working class neo-Nazis and the leftists who made up the ‘occupy’ movement are both out of work and both blaming the Jews.
One thing that makes the US different from Europe is the strong pro-Jewish and pro-Israel position of many, but not all, Christian Evangelicals. American Jews who take this for granted or even see the community as an enemy because it is politically and socially conservative are making a very foolish mistake.
The ‘clever’ photos of quenelles at Jewish sites and with Jews, which the perpetrators view as courageously speaking truth to Jewish power, are essentially childish and craven responses to the powerlessness that the marginalized people taking them experience. It is nevertheless worrisome that this movement is developing alongside the increasing anti-Zionism of the European governments and the Obama Administration — very definitely not the powerless fringe.
There are reports that Israel is planning a program to induce French Jews who are fleeing the country to come to Israel. It is more and more becoming clear that the notion of Israel as a refuge for persecuted Jews, a notion derided by the Beinarts and Ben Amis as outdated, is as true today as it was in 1948, and that the survival of the Jewish people absolutely depends on the survival of the Jewish state.