The appropriate response to the quenelle gesture

There is a difference between this:

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

And this:

Nicolas Anelka makes the 'quenelle' gesture on December 28 (screenshot: YouTube)
Nicolas Anelka makes the ‘quenelle’ gesture on December 28 (screenshot: YouTube)


Berlin, Lustgarten, Maikundgebung
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

And this:

Photo: Israellycool

Within the global Jewish community, there is a tendency to overreact to overt (and covert) anti-Semitism. Part of it is residual trauma from centuries of pogroms, ghettos, expulsions, rape and of course mass murder. Another element is the seductive nature of victimization and the comforts of self-righteousness it affords. The reasoning works like this: we are the eternal victims of the world’s hatred and don’t look to us for explanations of its malice.

And yet, the modern Jew fares quite well. Zionism was by far the most successful 20th century nationalist project, bequeathing to Israel a state-of-the-art army and air force, a functioning democracy and a strong economy. Around the world, many Jews continue to live comfortably –very few experience first hand the grinding, wretched life of, say, the Pale of the Settlement or “third-world” countries today. What’s more, diaspora Jewry take comfort, knowingly or not, that should their situation ever deteriorate, they will always have refuge in Israel. An arrect national spine for the new Jew.

Say what you will about Zionism and the headaches it causes. Say what you will about the resurgence of European anti-Semitism. The fact is there are no Jews in ghettos, no pogroms and no mass murders in Europe. Nevertheless, this cognitive dissonance between victimhood and national strength persists in the collective Jewish psyche.

Many people hate Jews. Most of them are inconsequential idiots. Idiots because anti-Semitism, though historically protean, stipulates a monolithic attitude towards an entire people. And until they hijack a government and train an army, they remain inconsequential. The ones who launch rockets at Israelis and aspire to nuclear weapons are those deserving of our more serious attention.

So let’s not get too excited when men, whose profession is to kick or throw balls around to the delight of boozed-up hooligans, or white losers who look like they masturbate way too often (probably to songs by Phil Collins), say or do stupid, invidious things. Mock, scorn, deride and ridicule them. Hell, make one of those “top-17 reasons” posts that appear daily on my News Feed describing how brutish these fellas are.

Better yet, since these sophisticated reverse-saluters seem to best communicate via arm gestures, how about we respond with one of our own.

Raise your left (or right arm — it’s irrelevant which one) until it’s parallel to the ground with your palm facing the sky. Close your outstretched hand into a fist. Before completing the fist, leave your middle finger perpendicular to your palm and in plain view of Monsieur Quenelle.

It’s not original. But hey, the swastika wasn’t exactly conjured up by some Austrian artist either.

About the Author
Koby Benmeleh is an MA graduate in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University. He made Aliyah 3.5 years ago.
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