'Quenelle' Soccer Star Nicolas Anelka Escapes Punishment by British League — So Far

Troubling Silence Over 'Nazi' Goal Celebration

Controversial Salute: Nicolas Anelka, center, celebrates a goal. He later flashed the ‘quenelle,’ a gesture reminiscent of the Nazi salute.
getty images
Controversial Salute: Nicolas Anelka, center, celebrates a goal. He later flashed the ‘quenelle,’ a gesture reminiscent of the Nazi salute.

By Cnaan Liphshiz

Published January 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

“Not good enough,” John Mann, the chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism at the European Parliament, tweeted last month. “You should be leading on challenging this racism. Your statement is weak and puny.”

The rebuke was unusual for an eminent body like Kick It Out, which has 20 years of experience in combating racism and conducts training programs for similar groups around the world. Leaders of the Israeli version, Kick Racism out of Israeli Football, were in England last year for five days of anti-hooliganism training with Kick It Out.

Since Dieudonne introduced the quenelle last year, hundreds have posted online photographs of themselves performing the gesture, which consists of pointing toward the ground with a flattened hand while folding the other arm across the chest.

Several photos showed people performing the quenelle near Jewish sites, including synagogues, Holocaust monuments and the school in Toulouse, France, where four Jews were murdered in 2012.

On Jan. 9, the 70th anniversary of the deportation of hundreds of Jews from Bordeaux to Nazi death camps, more than a dozen people participated in a group quenelle outside the city’s main synagogue.

At least 10 other prominent French athletes have performed the quenelle in recent months. One was Alexy Bosetti, who performed the gesture for cameras and then said on Twitter he was only showing off his tattoo. Bosetti ended his tweet with an emoticon depicting a wink.

Despite complaints by Jewish groups, the quenelle appears to be immune from prosecution under French laws prohibiting the display of Nazi symbols. Such legal fuzziness is a Dieudonne trademark. He coined the word “shoananas” — a mash-up of the Hebrew word for Holocaust and the French word for pineapple — to suggest the Holocaust is a myth without breaking laws against genocide denial.

Nevertheless, French officials have taken a hard line against the quenelle in recent weeks. Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the gesture was an inverted Nazi salute and an expression of anti-Semitic hatred. He also urged cities to ban performances by Dieudonne, leading to the cancellation of the comedian’s nationwide tour that was due to begin this month.

“The quenelle may be a complicated legal matter, but it’s a very clear moral issue,” said Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s international affairs director. He called on the Football Association to condemn it, “and especially on Kick It Out, which are not a court of law.”

The European Jewish Congress called for Anelka’s suspension as punishment and said the association’s inaction is indicative of a bigger problem in European and British soccer.

“Kick It Out’s tame response puts into question its commitment to tackling anti-Semitism in football and, sadly, reflects a common lack of reaction from the whole European football community,” Raya Kalenova, the executive vice-president of the European Jewish Congress, told JTA.

“Where is the apology from player or club? Where is the condemnation, ban or suspension from the Football Association, UEFA or FIFA? Kicking out racism and anti-Semitism requires a lot more than holding up banners.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.