|NBA star Tony Parker (right) salutes
There has been a recent flurry of published photos in which celebrities can be seen displaying a Nazi-like salute; a gesture that has understandably offended Jewish human rights groups, as well as anyone who abhors the actions of those monsters. The gesture, called the "quenelle" by the French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala (credited with its invention), combines a downward Nazi salute with an obscene gesture meaning "up yours".
Although the comedian claims there is nothing rascist or anti-semitic about the salute (he says it means "anti-establishment"), there is nothing funny about where Dieudonné's sympathies lie. According to the Times of Israel, Dieudonné is a professed anti-Semite, Hamas supporter and Holocaust denier, who was convicted last month for the seventh time of incitement against Jews and slapped with a $36,000 fine.
But it's not just this one man and his self-invented salute that makes me uneasy. It is the fact that the gesture has become a hit with European anti-Semites wishing to stay under the radar of France’s strict anti-hate laws. Add that to the growing number of celebrities who knowingly or unknowingly play into its hidden message, including NBA basketball star Tony Parker (who is French), and French soccer player Nicolas Anelka.
|The quenelle is demonstrated in front of Auschwitz
And then there is this.... as part of his act, Dieudonné pokes fun at Jewish journalists of Le Parisien who have condemned the gesture, by saying, "When I hear [journalist] Patrick Cohen speaking, I say to myself, you see, the gas chambers … too bad [they no longer exist]." Still think his invented salute is meant to be "anti-establishment"? The problem is that too many people, who are uneducated about the history of the Nazi regime, are easily persuaded to follow this man's irreverence as a badge of being unconventional.
The barbarity of what was done to the Jewish population throughout Europe is all too real and should never be minimized or underrated. I recently read a Holocaust survivor's story that was so dark as to be unimaginable--except that she actually lived it. She was a child in the Ukraine when the Nazis entered her village. Along with 3,000 fellow Jews from her village, she was lined up naked in the Zazeleviin Forest, in front of a mass grave where their bodies would lie after being shot. Her mother and brothers were killed in the slaughter, but she survived. She laid on top of dead bodies, not moving, through the night in a heavy downpour. Local volunteer policeman told the Germans no one would be able to escape from the pit alive, and so they were convinced to wait until morning to cover the mass grave.
Little Polina climbed out of that dark pit of death during the night. She was soon found lying naked and unconscious and transported to a ghetto, where somehow, by the grace of God, the Nazi authorities forgot to register her. She managed to escape the ghetto and made her way to a nearby cemetery where she remembered a family friend's tomb was located. By day, she would hide in the tomb, and by night she would steal the food left by relatives of the deceased at the grave sites.
When it became too cold to remain at the cemetery, she headed towards a nearby village, taking warm clothes and shoes from fallen soldiers along the way. Once she came across a scarf to cover her head, and felt as if she had found treasure. As the Nazi army began retreating, she was discovered by a Soviet soldier, and being desperately sick, was taken to an orphanage. During her recovery, she heard that there were 147 Jews in a nearby labor camp that had survived the last vestiges of the Nazi regime. Her father was among them, and they were reunited, the only survivors from their family.
Polina emigrated to Israel, where today she tries to be a voice for the six million Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Now, if Monsieur Dieudonné wishes to believe that Polina is lying, then I guess no amount of evidence will ever convince him. But if he thinks that his gesture/salute can go unchallenged, then he underestimates those of us who abhor the atrocities against the Jewish people. This is not a case of freedom of expression, but rather a provocative attempt to promote anti-semitism... it is deliberate, calculating, and in the worst possible taste.
Psalm 7:14-16 "Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends."