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August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘quenelle’

A Fearsome Test For French Jews

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

France has a rich Jewish history and a vibrant Jewish community of approximately 500,000 souls. At the same time, France is a country where anti-Semitism has deep, seemingly immutable roots. Modern Zionism evolved partly as a reaction to the Dreyfus trial at the end of the 19th century, while in the middle of the 20th approximately 90,000 Jews were murdered during the Nazi Holocaust.

In our own time, France has provided fertile ground for Holocaust deniers, known in local parlance as negationistes. During the last 10 years we have witnessed a horrifying hate crime involving the kidnapping and murder of a young Jew, Ilan Halimi; an Islamist terror attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse that claimed the lives of three children and a rabbi; and a burgeoning anti-Semitic social movement that takes as its symbol an inverted Nazi salute known as the “quenelle.”

Small wonder, then, that French Jewish leaders are continually asked whether their community has a future in the long term. Nonetheless, it is a question French Jewish leaders answer with patience and good grace, as I discovered when I met in New York with a delegation from CRIF, the representative body of French Jewry.

At the head of the delegation is Roger Cukierman, the elder statesman of French Jews who was first elected as CRIF’s president in 2001. Sitting in the offices of the World Jewish Congress, where he also serves as a vice president, Cukierman was candid about the profound problems the community faces, while emphasizing its extraordinary durability.

“There have been Jews in France for the last 2,000 years,” Cukierman said, listing the names of Rashi, the great 11th-century rabbi; Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century Renaissance author; and Marcel Proust, the 20th-century novelist. Even as he acknowledged the many instances of anti-Semitic persecution through the ages, Cukierman noted simply and proudly, “We are still here. And we are not the only country where anti-Semitism is developing. It may develop in America also.”

Still, there is a genuine urgency about the situation in France. A recent survey of global anti-Semitism issued by Tel Aviv University reported 110 violent attacks on French Jews in 2013 – the highest single number for any country. More alarming is the fact that though Jews make up just one percent of the French population, they are the target of 40 percent of racist assaults in the country. It isn’t surprising, then, that David Tibi, a Jewish leader in Paris, recently declared, “We no longer have a place in France.”

Cukierman is insistent that Jews do have a place in France, adding that anti-Semitism emanates from three distinct sources, rather than being a general phenomenon. First, there is the far right, traditionally the home of Holocaust deniers and Vichy-era apologists. Second, there is the far left, whose aggressive promotion of the BDS campaign against Israel “affects the comfort of living in France for Jews,” Cukierman said. Third, there are the banlieues, run-down suburbs that are home to disaffected Muslim youths who are frequently the executors of violent anti-Semitic acts.

Any mention of the banlieuesinevitably leads to a discussion of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the notorious comedian whose attempts at humor are often little more than crude Jew-baiting antics. It was Dieudonne who popularized the quenelle, the anti-Semitic gesture that became internationally known when it was performed by the French soccer star Nicholas Anelka, a friend of Dieudonne’s, during a match in England.

Among the numerous challenges in responding to Dieudonne is his appeal to young people in France, many of whom are attracted by his anti-establishment stance, his hatred of Israel, and his mockery of the Holocaust.

British Soccer Group Says Ban on Anelka Should Be Universal

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The British Football Association will request that Nicolas Anelka serve his entire suspension for performing the quenelle salute regardless of the soccer team he joins.

Anelka was fired by British West Bromwich Albion on Friday for “gross misconduct” for making the salute, seen by many as being anti-Semitic, on the field during a December match and refusing to apologize for it.

The Football Association last month imposed a five-match ban on Anelka, and the organization told the British Press Association that it will ask the world soccer association FIFA to impose the ban on whatever team he moves to. He has yet to start the suspension.

Anelka said in December that he performed the quenelle as a gesture to his friend Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French comedian who popularized the quasi-Nazi salute. Dieudonne, who has been fined repeatedly for making anti-Semitic remarks, says the quenelle is neither anti-Semitic nor Nazi but merely anti-establishment.

Meanwhile, the Football Association on Monday launched the Reporting Discrimination campaign, a series of short films that instruct soccer fans on what to do if they see discrimination — including racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism — at a match.

Belgian Athlete who ‘quenelled’ Banned for 10 Games

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The European governing body of soccer, UEFA, announced the punishment on Tuesday against Omar Rahou, who made the gesture several times at a European Championship match of futsal, a variant of soccer, in January while celebrating scoring a goal for his team, Chatelineau, against Romania in Antwerp, the website of the Dutch Algemeen Dagblad daily reported.

Rahou, 21, may appeal the sanction, which is the minimum punishment for racist abuse at UEFA matches after the organization toughened its disciplinary rules last May.

Last week, England’s Football Association handed Nicolas Anelka, a French striker for the West Bromwich Albion team, a five-match ban for performing the gesture — the minimum penalty the English association reserves for breaches of conduct that are aggravated by racism.

“Even if Anelka and Rahou received only the minimum penalty, that minimum is still significant and serves to dissuade others from imitating this sign of solidarity with anti-Semitism,” Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism, told JTA.

The quenelle was invented by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a French comedian who has multiple convictions for inciting hatred against Jews. Jewish groups said the gesture — which involves folding one arm over one’s chest while pointing downward with the other arm — was offensive and alluding to the Hitler salute. In December, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls called the gesture an “anti-Semitic gesture of hate.”

But Dieudonne said it was neither anti-Semitic nor Nazi, but merely anti-establishment.

Dieudonne also invented the term Shoananas, a mashup of the Hebrew word for the Holocaust and the French word for pineapple, which is believed to have been designed to mock the Holocaust or suggest it never happened without violating French laws against hate speech.

British Soccer Watchdog Punishes Player for Quenelle Salute

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Nicolas Anelka, a French soccer player for a British club, was fined $130,000 and suspended five games for performing the quenelle gesture in a game.

The British Football Association handed down its penalties on Thursday following an investigation by an independent regulatory commission, which ruled that Anelka was guilty of performing an act that was “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper” after scoring against West Ham on Dec. 28. Anelka, a striker for the West Bromwich team, also must attend an educational program.

The punishment is suspended pending a seven-day appeals process.

Anelka, the commission determined, had not been deliberately anti-Semitic in making the gesture, nor did he intend “to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle.” But the panel said his breach was an aggravated one because it “included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”

The player said in December that he performed the quenelle as a gesture to his friend Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French comedian who popularized the quasi-Nazi salute. Dieudonne, who has been fined repeatedly for making anti-Semitic remarks, says the quenelle is neither anti-Semitic nor Nazi but merely anti-establishment. France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, is among many who see the gesture as anti-Semitic.

Leaders of British Jewry, including Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, welcomed the ruling as justified and fitting.

David Delew, chief executive of the Community Security Trust, the British Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, said in a statement, “This verdict sends a strong message to Jewish players and supporters at all levels of the game that the Football Association will act against anti-Semitic acts if they are reported.”

The ‘Quenelle’: Product of Simple Hatred or Ignorance?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The “quenelle” craze that took over France and a few other European countries in the last few months is not merely the product of hate but rather one of sheer ignorance. Although both seem to correlate, historically at least, there is an important distinction that needs to be made.

Ignorance is what leads to blind hate. Whether that hate is justified or not is dependent on the individual, however there is without a doubt a relationship between ignorance and a lack of justification of one’s hate. Wait what?

The question is if the individuals who are frivolously displaying these signs on football fields and in front of Shoah museums are aware of what they are doing. Are they participating in a abhorrent furor of hatred, or are they-in their ignorance- trying to fit in a cultural fad?

Surely every time we see a new picture on social networking sites or a news source, the people who show off their “quenelle” in photos are either bemused or straight up laughing. Is it a sign of hatred? Or simply just someone trying to fit in?

Unfortunately it is both. By trying to fit in a racist, yet in their view, humorous show of body language they are not just trying to confirm into social norms that their peers and culture are exhibiting, they are consciously or even unconsciously exhibiting hate. You might be wondering: so what?

Are there no historical similarities? The formation of the fascist party led by Benito Mussolini in Italy displayed and vulgarized the use of the Roman Salute to move the masses. Let alone the use of the infamous Nazi Salute that has become one of the most overt representations of hatred. How about the use of the Japanese salute under Hirohito’s despotic regime? Is there no common affinity to the “quenell”? Something that binds all of these together?

Conformity. By displaying signs whether one knows why or not, builds a culture of complacency, ignorance and hatred. Especially when connected to the eternal and universal fact of trying to “fit in” or “be a part of something” in human nature, no matter at what cost. Even if it means the hatred of others for the purpose of finding one’s place in the cultural hegemony- the masses.

The “quenelle” is more than just a cultural fad, and it is more than just a representation of French anti-semitism. It is a form of language, I dare say, a mechanism by which hatred is not just spread but rather it is normalized in the minds of individuals. The more it becomes placed in mass culture and media the more it has become normal to see it. Not so different how by 1941, the Hitler Salute was absolutely embedded in all fabrics of daily life- it was everywhere.

Yet the gesture’s promoters say it is for comical means, to break down social conventions, and to promote free speech. Dieudonne himself who has been banned from performing in various French cities, and from entering the U.K has claimed that it was only a part of his “routine”. Really?

Is that why in 2009 in a political campaign promoting Anti-Zionism under the headline of “Pour Une Europe Libérée”- For A “Free Europe”, Dieudonné poses showing of his famous sign. Again immediately comparable to any National Socialist poster from the 1930’s. This leads me to the next question, in fact to a set of questions.

Does this gesture work to promote hatred and more ignorance, or is it just a display of the current anti-semitism in France? Maybe Both? And more importantly, do people stretch their right hand down pointing to the ground because they hate something, or because they are following their peers blindly-as ignorance dictates? These two things are not mutually exclusive, they seem to function together in a complexity so vigorous as to influence culture and to make people hate whether they actually do or don’t.

Antisemitic Graffiti Painted on Toulouse Buildings

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Swastikas and other hate graffiti were painted on buildings throughout the French city of Toulouse.

Sunday night’s vandalism, which also included far-right symbols, struck an LBGT center, a university and cemetery, and the offices of left-wing candidates in elections next month, according to Radio France International. Police have not identified any suspects.

The graffiti attacked Jewish groups and compared Jews to homosexuals, RFI reported.

“Those hateful messages are a real danger for our republic,” Toulouse Mayor Pierre Cohen of the Socialist Party said in a statement. “It is our responsibility not to let this noxious atmosphere reminiscent of the inglorious past become established.”

The Ozar Hatorah School in Toulouse was the site two years ago where a radical Islamist killed four people, including three children.

Also Sunday, some 20 supporters of the French comedian Dieudonne M’laba M’laba held a “quenelle party” on the southwest French city’s main square, police told RFI. The quenelle, a gesture reminiscent of a Nazi salute that was created by Dieudonne, has been widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

Last month, French police arrested a man who posted a photo on social networks that showed a young man wearing sunglasses performing the quenelle while standing in front of the entrance to the Ozar Hatorah School wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the portrait of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Air France Employees Performed Quenelle Salute

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Three Air France union officials “joyfully” performed the Quenelle reverse Nazi salute at a rally last November but not reported until this week by the French Liberation newspaper.

Air France management issued a statement condemning the salute, according to the European Jewish Press, which reported they were “extremely shocked” and promise ”to take appropriate actions,” whatever that means.

The quenelle was popularized by French anti-Semitic comedian, so he calls himself, Dieudonne.

David Ricatte, secretary and spokesman of the CGT-Air France Communist union, defended his performing the salute and claimed it has no racial or religious significance. He argued that it was a fashionable anti-establishment sign until it was publicized in December as anti-Semitic

“However, earlier in January, Ricatte posted on his personal Twitter account a dubbed version of the scene of Adolf Hitler in ‘Downfall’ in which Hitler is a parodied version of French Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemning the quenelle,” EJP reported.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/air-france-employees-performed-quenelle-salute/2014/02/04/

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