Op-ed: ‘Quenelle’ gesture is not a popular sign of contestation; it is the indicator of a modern form of violent anti-Semitism building up in France
Riccardo Dugulin, YNET
As football players, basketball stars and national celebrities are crowding the ranks of a growing anti-social movement, France is put in jeopardy because of its inability to acknowledge the risk posed by revolutionary wave triggered by a group of populist stage performers.
Former football world champion Nicolas Anelka caught everyone’s attention when he used a well-known and already massively used anti-establishment salute in a national sport competition. The “quenelle” was invented in 2009 by a widely criticized anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.
The French public figure ran in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections as the head of a party called The Anti-Zionist List. The gesture he invented is the exact reverse of a Nazi salute in shape and form and is intended to represent a violent attack against the State of Israel and the French institutions supporting it.
While much has been written concerning the “quenelle,” its social implications and possible ways to limit the scope of the already viral attacks waged against the French establishment, religious minorities and the Jewish state, a key point has been overlooked. As Dieudonné pointed out in late August 2013, the “quenelle” is no longer his. It has become a loosely defined symbol of social identification, which escapes political parties and ideological frameworks.
Dieudonné in himself is nothing more than an agitator, an excellent orator putting his verbal skills at the service of his hatred of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel. His repeated statements claiming that he is not an anti-Semite are void of meaning after the words he pronounced, glorifying Hitler’s gas chambers and bringing back to the front stage the worst part of the 1930s Nazi slurs.
However, one should not be mistaken. While Dieudonné is just an agitator and probably not much more, the “quenelle affair” should be interpreted for what it really is. It has emerged as a clear mark of France’s potential breakdown, which finds its foundation in the implosion of a national political system leading to the need of new charismatic leaders and the rise of a form of modern anti-Semitism.
While discussing Dieudonné and the “quenelle,” commentators and analysts have been focusing on the possible ideological links between the anti-establishment movement and neo-Nazi organizations. This generates a key conceptual misunderstanding. With President Hollande’s approval rate falling under the 15% bar, a disastrous economic situation and multiple challenges to the central government, France resembles the 1920s Weimar Republic more than the late 1930s Third Reich.
Since François Hollande took office, the once strong French government has repeatedly been abandoning ground to destructive movements, retreating on key internal and external affairs while bunkering itself on its strategically void and unpopular campaign of taxations and same-sex marriage. In such a climate of rupture between the political class and the average citizen, the latter is increasingly looking for movements able …read more