The Dieudonné syndrome: History repeats itself

Most media reports on French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala’s anti-Semitic tirades have been focused on the pressure to shut his mouth. Sure, we must by all means shut off all kinds of incitement to generate hatred, intolerance, violence and all that destroys human dignity. Still the fundamental underlying question behind Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism remains unanswered. Why does he hate Jews? Let’s find out. Who’s this guy’s audience? Who attends his shows? To whom he speaks? Who would like to hear his words and believe them?

According to media reports, for 15 years he paired with a Jewish comedian named Elie Semoun to fight racism, by making ridicule of cultural and social prejudice. What made Dieudonné change his values and become a Jew hater? Changes in the social and economic reality also change people. Europe has been dealing with serious problems as a result of economic depression and recession, similar to those in the United States in the last decade. Those who suffer the most in such scenario are the poor, uneducated, and less productive. These are at the bottom of the heavy pyramid of wild capitalism. In France these are African immigrants, most of them illiterate Muslims who remain marginalized, segregated and discriminated by those to save them from famine, disease, tribal violence, and death.

Every year come more and more to the north, and harder to integrate them as educated, cooperative and productive citizens. Too expensive to do amid the worst economic depression since the second world war. This situation reminds us of post-war Germany’s struggle to recover after the first world war. Unemployed and displaced masses wait for a government to bring everything back to normal, when economic recession is indeed in recess. Then come those who look for culprits and scapegoats. These are the decent Jews who by their education and efforts rise to a better life, that those who don’t have it want to take it from them. Not just that, Dieudonné blames the Jews for having the good life that his listeners don’t have. He tells them to hate Jews as the culprits and scapegoats of the corrupt and mediocre management of France’s government and economy.

History repeats itself. It happened in Nazi Germany, in Russia’s pogroms, in Spain, Italy and other countries. Once their elites deplete their economies, they blame the Jews and take what legitimately belongs to them. The lesson we must learn from Dieudonné is the same we don’t seem to assimilate from our history since the Diaspora. Ignorance is our enemy. Imagine thousands of angry, frustrated, upset, unemployed and marginalized people listening to one who tells them whom to blame for their disgrace. One telling them that there were not enough Jews burned in the Holocaust. We the Jews who survive their hatred won’t ever again fall by their anger and frustration for what their ignorance don’t let them have.

We must learn from what people like Dieudonné represent, from who they are and what they pursue. As long as there is anger and hatred, either derived from the establishment’s failures or simply from envy and coveting for what they are incapable to get or achieve, there always will be Jews as their favorite culprits and scapegoats. It’s time to face the vicious circle of history, and act accordingly as the Jews we are, not as scapegoats for the failures of the nations. If they also fail to make prevail decency and dignity in their system and institutions, we must do it as we have done it throughout history. In spite of them.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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