No news item or news event has disturbed me so much in a very long time.
I have spent several hours researching and investigating a new symbol of blatant and despicable anti-Semitism. It is called a "quenelle." A quenelle is a French pastry. But this is neither sweet nor tasteful. This quenelle is a reverse Nazi salute.
The rise of the quenelle has been seen primarily in France, its place of origin. So far it has been perpetrated almost exclusively by the French -- even when they leave France. It is all over the internet and Facebook. People take pictures of themselves doing the quenelle in popular and very inappropriate locales -- individually and en masse.
It is illegal in France to use Nazi symbols or to inspire anti-Semitism. Changing the Nazi salute and inverting it by placing one hand downward while the other arm crosses the body is a way around the law.
Below is a three-minute YouTube video on the subject, and here is a YNET article showing pictures of neo-Nazis doing the quenelle salute in front of synagogues, at Holocaust memorials and outside the notorious, massive death camp Auschwitz/Birkenau. Perpetrators of this vicious act are even seen at the Western Wall and posing with smiling Israeli soldiers oblivious to the travesty in which they have become innocent participants.
On December 29, 2013, in England, soccer star Nicolas Anelka, who plays for West Bromwich Albion, performed the salute several times after scoring a huge goal. The player claims that the salute was just a sign demonstrating solidarity with his friend Dieudonne, the French comedian and cult figure who created the symbol. Dieudonne has been convicted of defamation and anti-Semitism 10 times, and convicted once for tax evasion. Anelka, originally from France, is considered to be one of the best soccer players in the world today. He played for Arsenal and Real Madrid before West Bromwich. Another soccer player, Frenchman Sakho, has also posed with Dieudonne striking the pose.
The quenelle is slowly making its way to the United States. Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs is seen performing the salute in photos that came to light after the Anelka picture. When asked about the pose, Parker responded that he had no idea of the meaning of the gesture or that "it could be in any way offensive or harmful.''
While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it. ... Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt.
Parker was born in Belgium but grew up in France. He should know that the sign is not a nice symbol. He may not have known how offensive it is, but he had to have known that it is not a friendly or complimentary gesture. Unlike some of the other pictures we are seeing, Tony Parker was not duped. The quenelle was performed by him; it was not secretly performed around him as it was with Holocaust survivors or at the Western Wall or with Israeli soldiers.
Once you understand what is happening, you will find this fast-growing trend as frightening as I do.
The French are taking this seriously. French leadership is talking about ways to control the quenelle movement. President François Hollande has pledged to confront the quenelle. During a visit to Saudi Arabia, Hollande was quoted as telling journalists, "We must approve and support the government and the interior minister in the face of words or actions whose anti-Semitic character cannot be denied."
And French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that they will fight against those who hide behind humor but who are actually professional anti-Semites.
France is considering banning all of Dieudonne's performances. Under French law it is illegal to disseminate hatred. The salute began in 2009, when Dieudonne was running for the European Parliament as head of the anti-Zionist party. The quenelle became his symbol. It is hard to imagine that the quenelle can be seen in any way other than hateful.
In the meantime, the movement is growing, and the anti-Semitic message of the quenelle is reaching new shores and attracting new audiences.