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Anyone for Quenelle?

Call
me unworldly but until today I had never heard of La Quenelle, a ‘salute’ that
involves placing the left hand on the right shoulder while the right arm is
extended downwards. 

And
the chances are my ignorance would have been extended indefinitely if the supposedly
innocent gesture had not been demonstrated yesterday by a French footballer,
Nicolas Anelka, to celebrate a goal he had just scored for his English Premier
League club, West Bromwich Albion.  Anelka,
of African origin and apparently a practising Muslim, may now be in trouble for
doing so because La Quenelle (which is translated as ‘scoop’ or ‘dumping’) is
regarded by Jews as an inverted Nazi salute, or in other words, an anti-Semitic
gesture. 

“Nonsense,”
protested Mr. Anelka.  He was doing
nothing more, he claimed, than paying tribute to the salute’s ‘inventor’, a
French comedian called Dieudonne, sometimes known as M’bala M’bala. What M.
M’bala M’bala had to say, in support of his friend Mr. Anelka, was that the
salute is nothing more than a charade of protest – presumably a variation of
the raised middle digit – directed against ‘The Establishment’.  Only M. M’bala M’bala can tell us what he
means by ‘The Establishment’.  If he
means the French government and all its works then La Quenelle may be regarded
as a valid gesture of political protest, which may or may not explain why he is
currently unpopular in French government circles.  At which point, one might reasonably ask why
Mr. Anelka thought that football fans from the English Midlands would have the
slightest interest in current examples of French political protest, or the
responses to them. 

But
of course Mr. Anelka is not so naïve.  The
French government is not furious with M. M’bala M’bala because he is furious
with them, but because La Quenelle has come to be regarded in the lower
echelons of French society as a symbol of anti-Semitism.  The kind of witless chumps who like to draw
attention to themselves by taking ‘selfies’ have been recording themselves making
La Quenelle salutes for some months.  And
in several cases the inference of anti-Semitism is entirely validated.  

Jewish
organisations cite two recent incidents.  In the first, two French soldiers performed
the salute in front of a synagogue.  In
the second, a couple of Turkish tourists photographed themselves doing the same
thing in front of the gates of Auschwitz
concentration camp.

Jews
are understandably sensitive about such matters – and some, it can be argued, may
be a mite too sensitive – but on the evidence of the ‘selfies’ just described,
a strong case can be made that La Quenelle, for all the excuses about its nature,
has now been adopted by anti-Semites and anti-Zionists and a host of unthinking
morons.

Nor
is it possible to believe that Mr. Anelka was unaware of this.  If he was as innocent as he professes to be, then
his behaviour in front of a crowd of presumably mystified English football
supporters was pointless.  If he was not,
then he can rejoice in joining a long and growing list of self-regarding ingrates
who overpopulate a sport that long ago lost any sense of decency or shame.  

If
the English football authorities wish to stamp this out before it ‘goes viral’
(it may be too late already) then Mr. Anelka deserves considerably more than a
slap on the wrist.  That mild form of
punishment, given the generosity of spirit usually shown in response to such
offences, may well be as much as he will get.

Nothing
good ever comes these days out of the primordial swamp that football has become,
because those who preside over it are no more socially advanced than the people
who play it or, sad to say, so many of the people who pay to see it played.    

Mr.
Anelka would justifiably be the first to complain if bananas were thrown onto
the pitch by ignorant fans, once a regular occurrence at English football
grounds.  Just what, then, is going
through his head?  Is there any point in
asking? 

 

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