Everybody wants to be hip and trendy. This is why many are always on a quest for the latest gadget, statement, gesture or piece of clothing. We want to display it, proclaim it or even experience it before everybody else. We want to be part of the “in-crowd”.
Fads and trends come and go. Some are as ephemeral as the day they were introduced while others linger for much longer. I remember when a few years ago, young people around the world were wearing the keffyah (middle Eastern scarf popularized by former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and symbol of the Palestinian struggle against Israel). Stores all over the USA and other parts of the world were carrying cheap copies of the scarves in all colors, and kids all over started to wear them. Very few of the youths wearing the trendy versions of the keffyah knew anything about its origins and the stigma attached to it. They just knew that it was cool and they “had to have one”.
A new fad is spreading across the world like wildfire. It originated in France in 2005, from the twisted xenophobic mind of stage comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. It is known as “La Quenelle” (French word for a fish dumpling) and consists of extending one arm like in the Nazi salute, but keeping it down along the body as you touch your shoulder with your other arm (see photo below). Dieudonné called it la quenelle and while he claims that it is an anti-establishment and anti-Zionist gesture, he also swears that it is not anti-Semitic. Dieudonné is so attached to this new gesture that he has threatened to sue those who oppose it.
Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has a long history of racist jokes in his stage monologues. He started to target the Jewish people as early in his career as 2000. He has been repeatedly prosecuted and banned for his xenophobic diatribes. He was recently fined the equivalent of $100,000 for his repeated offenses.
In 2012, his movie “l’anti-Semite” (a very subtle title obviously!) was banned from the Cannes Movie festival. Cannes has been known for presenting movies that were less than politically correct and bordered on bad taste. But Mr. M’bala M’bala’s movie making a joke of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz liberation as well has blatantly loathing Israel and the Jewish people went too far. In it, he is seen saying “long live Hitler” and many other anti-Semitic statements such as the need for gas chambers. The movie has been banned everywhere and is even hard to find on uTube (one copy is available in French with Russian dubbing). The movie was partly funded by Iran.
He also ran in the French local elections also in 2012, under the banner the anti-Zionist Party.
So when asked about la quenelle, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala immediately states that the gesture is mostly anti-establishment and not anti-Semitic, but in the same libelous breath he will also admit that “the Jews run and control everything”. So Mr. M’bala M’bala, what part of the establishment ends up not being Jewish then? The lines have become blurred but the message remains crystal clear.
La quenelle still carries some ambiguity and cannot be simply categorized as an anti-Semitic salute, yet it is mostly used as a postmodern “F*** you” to Israel and the Jewish people and as such, it has become a real problem for the French government. Interior minister Manuel Valls is determined to do all he can to stop Dieudonné’s spread of hatred through his stage shows by banning the performances all over France. So far, many major French cities have chosen to cancel the shows.
I applaud the French government for taking a stand against such a display of hatred against the Jewish people. But there is another problem associated with La quenelle.
The new gesture is catching on and has been spotted during TV shows, on the Internet, in the printed press and many other places. This outrageous gesture is being duplicated by youths all over, who are mostly clueless about the message they are conveying. Additionally, famous athletes have used it during sports events. It has also been spotted in the military and in front of synagogues or Holocaust monuments.
La quenelle is a dangerous sign of the times. At best, it is a misunderstood gesture of disrespect and hatred for the establishment, vastly used by younger people who just think that they are cool. But at worst, it is a rebirth of the Nazi salute.
Frankly, I believe that La quenelle is both. Of course, the irony is that many of the younger anti-Semites have never met a Jewish person, but it is still their duty to hate them. It shouldn’t surprise us that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was one of the most popular books in digital form in 2013.
Classic Anti-Semitism became taboo after the Holocaust, to the extent that it had to re-invent itself and give itself a postmodern face-lift to be re-introduced as the “New Anti-Semitism” but under the politically correct name of anti-Zionism.
Today, La quenelle is making anti-Semitism trendy in France, so much so that it continues to embolden Jew haters all over the hexagon and other parts of the world. I am not sure of the exact reaction of those using the quenelle after being told what it stands for, but it is our duty to expose such a despicable gesture.
Anti-Semitism has recently become acceptable again, God forbid it becomes trendy!