The Quenelle: Blame Dr Strangelove and the Bomb

When West Bromwich Albion’s star player Anelka performed the Quenelle after scoring a goal in a match on 28 December he was immediately lashed by a frenzied storm in a Zionists’ teacup.

The Quenelle is a gesture, some claim, made famous by the French comic Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. As explained by the BBC  it involves touching or gripping your shoulder with one hand while holding the palm of your other hand outstretched and pointing to the ground. “Some describe it as a combination of the bras d’honneur with a bent arm (which means ‘up yours’) and the Nazi salute”.

While it is considered by some to be a ‘reverse nazi salute’, Dieudonné’s fans say it’s simply a gesture of defiance, an anti-establishment symbol.

Needless to say, the usual suspects have jumped on the Quenelle and branded it anti-Semitic. They have made such an almighty fuss that Anelka has been charged by the Football Association with making an “abusive” gesture and faces a 5-match ban if found guilty.

According the MSN Sport, 22 January, West Brom’s shirt sponsor Zoopla, an online property search engine co-owned by a Jewish businessman, announced it would not be renewing its contract with the club at the end of the season because of the incident.

Anelka denies the goal celebration was intended to be anti-Semitic and agrees not to perform the salute again but, importantly, he hasn’t apologised. He insists that the Quenelle is an anti-establishment gesture in support of his friend Dieudonné, who has been prosecuted in France for anti-Semitism and is said to have created the salute.

But did he?

I copied the CEO of West Brom, Mark Jenkins, on this note to Channel 4 News, hoping to comfort him in his sea of troubles.

If planning to cover the Quenelle story I hope you’ll find time to run a clip of Peter Sellers in ‘Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, (1964).

The origin of the Quenelle is surely the strangulated salute by Peter as the demented former Nazi in a wheelchair, and goes back 50 years. If anyone is entitled to be offended it’s Adolf, so playing the anti-Semitism card is ridiculous.

Peter Sellers’ mother was Jewish by the way. I wonder what he (or she) would have made of all this fuss?

Dieudonné wasn’t even a twinkle in his mother’s eye in 1964. He planned to come to England to support his friend Anelka but has suddenly found himself the subject of an exclusion order by the British Government. Dieudonné responded, quite predictably, by delivering a Quenelle salute to the Queen. Couldn’t Home Secretary Theresa May see that her panicky action invited a rude anti-Establishment ‘up-yours’ and played so conveniently into the comedian’s hands?

Who has been pressuring Mrs May to slap a ban on Dieudonné and prevent him giving evidence? Zoopla? The Board of Deputies of British Jews? Ah yes, their Vice-president Jonathan Arkush has gone into overdrive and wants Anelka barred from the game for longer than five matches. “The decision to charge the player was obviously the correct one…. The Board itself believe any incident on or off the pitch which has racial connotations should be addressed with zero tolerance…. He has simply said he wouldn’t do it again and that is not good enough. He has not indicated one bit of remorse or regret or apologised for his actions.”

May’s officials can dream up any reason they like for excluding foreigners under the general heading ‘public policy and public security’. Of course, real hate-mongers like Livni, Lieberman, Ya’alon, Mofaz, Halutz and Netanyahu get a free pass into the UK.

Was Mrs May also badgered by Mark Harper, her obnoxious junior minister in charge of immigration? According to Wiki, Harper is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. He was tutored at Oxford by Vernon Bogdanor, a member of the Henry Jackson Society whose patrons include Richard Perle and William Kristol. Another of Dogdanor’s pupils was David Cameron.

The Board of Deputies, quick to make capital from the farce, issued a statement on Dieudonné’s exclusion. It reads: “Our organisations worked together to provide strong evidence about Dieudonné’s activities, and the risks and tensions that his presence in Britain would have brought. We thank the Government for its prompt and correct decision. The exclusion order demonstrates this Government’s opposition to antisemitism and will be warmly welcomed by both British and French Jews.”

There’s a wonderful comment by Markus Wolfe at the bottom of Britain, Eager to Match France’s Self-Abjection, a piece by Ariadna Theokopoulos:

I like Paul Eisen’s comment regarding Anelka.

I’m fairly sure Nicolas Anelka will get a hefty ban for his brave quenelle at the December 28th West Ham match.

And when he does, what if he straightway gives the FA another one.

And what if at the next match without Anelka, and in the pre-match line-up, his team-mates together, give another one to Zoopla, the Jewish-owned firm who pressured West Brom and the FA to have him banned.

And what if the fans, all 25,000 of them, stand together and, as one, deliver a right royal quenelle to ‘the Jews’ – those Jewish individuals and organisations and their non-Jewish minions who, by their arrogant and supremacist ways, put people like me (also a Jew) at risk.

Whatever the outcome of the accusations levelled at Anelka, West Brom’s fan base could see a big boost. The Government’s fan base won’t.

So lighten up, everybody, before you become a laughing-stock. Call off the attack-dogs. Lift the silly ban. Stop stirring your piddling little tea-cup. If you must blame the Quenelle on someone, blame it on Dr Strangelove and the Bomb.

UPDATE (5 February):

This was received from a reader after publication:

I can not be 100% certain of its truth am have been led to believe that (Jewish!) concentration camp prisoners commonly used the quenelle as a symbol of defiance against their guards. Some, a few, still survive..maybe someone should ask them about it before it is too late.

Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can now be read on the internet by visiting Read other articles by Stuart.