Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Soccer Star Anelka Draws President Obama, Jay-Z and Beyoncé Into ‘Reverse Nazi Salute’ Controversy

December 28, 2013 10:55 pm 3 comments

The picture featuring President Obama posted by soccer star Nicolas Anelka.

French Muslim soccer star, Nicolas Anelka, has drawn President Obama, rapper Jay-Z and singer Beyoncé into a controversy surrounding his use on Saturday of a gesture that is widely considered to be anti-Semitic, and has been described as “the Nazi salute in reverse.”

Under heavy criticism for publicly using the gesture, after scoring a goal for British soccer club West Bromwich, the athlete tweeted a picture of Obama and the pop culture icons motioning in a way that may appear to be similar. However, a 2012 report from the time that the picture was taken said that the group was “brushing imaginary dirt off their shoulder” in “an obvious reference to the Jay-Z hit song” entitled “Dirt off Your Shoulder.”

The White House did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment on the picture.

The gesture, known as the “quenelle” was created by French anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné, and has been used by his followers in front of Nazi concentration camps, synagogues and even when standing beside unsuspecting Jews.

“It’s the Nazi salute in reverse,” Roger Cukierman, head of the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organizations, said recently. “Very clearly, Mr Dieudonné is developing a nearly professional anti-Semitism under the cover of telling jokes.”

On Friday French Interior Minister Manuel Valls criticized the comedian and said that his ministry was looking for legal ways to ban his shows.

“Dieudonné M’bala M’bala doesn’t seem to recognize any limits any more,” Valls said. “From one comment to the next, as he has shown in several television shows, he attacks the memory of Holocaust victims in an obvious and unbearable way.”

Dieudonne’s film, “The Anti-Semite,” was banned from the Cannes Film Festival last year. He has openly supported former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s offensive views on Israel and the Jewish people, and has described Holocaust remembrance as “memorial pornography”.

After his use of the “quenelle,” Anelka, who is friendly with Dieudonné said that his decision to use the hateful gesture was a tribute to his friend.

“This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné,” Anelka tweeted.

The move was sharply criticized by French leaders.

France’s Minister for Sport, Valerie Fourneyron, tweeted that, “Anelka’s gesture is a shocking and disgusting provocation. Anti-semitism or incitement to hatred has no place on the football field.”

A spokesperson for Britain’s Football Association said that the FA would investigate the incident. But Jeremy Newmark, a former Jewish communal executive said that the FA’s decision was insufficient. “The @fa investigation into Nicholas Anelka smacks of an excuse for inaction. Racism requires a swift & firm response,” he wrote on Twitter.

The caretaker manager for Anelka’s soccer club, Keith Downing, quickly came to the star’s defense. He said that Anelka was “totally surprised” by the outcry. “It has got nothing to do with what is being said,” Downing said. “It is absolute rubbish.”

Earlier this month an anonymous “anti-Fascist and pro-Israel” hacker exposed the email addresses and identities of thousands of Dieudonné’s supporters.


  • Here are a few (balanced) explanations from France:
    This gesture is an alternative, funny and viral way of saying ‘fuck off’ to the whole system. Nothing anti-semitic here. Those who claimed first, that it carried anti-semitic meanings, are the equivalent of US Aipac, called Licra in France. They dare saying it is ‘a reverse nazi gesture, meaning sodomization of the vicitims of the Shoah’. And all of a sudden, all mass medias and French ministers, echo the Licra’s voice day after day. As if they were the soviet thought police, telling you what you are allowed to think, what not. Manuel Valls, head of the Department of the Interior, has one goal: prevent Dieudonné from doing his work of a humorist. Not by a law, that would be illegal. Simply by phoning the local authorities to pressure them. This is his official plan, exposed in our Assemblée Nationale. Who’s being fascist RIGHT NOW?

    No one tries to deeply analyse the roots of Dieudonné’s political anger. Yes he does criticises zionism and Israel, all forms of racisms, wars, exploitations, violences, censorships, attacks against freedom of speech, imperialisms, etc. Does he deserve to be almost treated as a nazi? No sane soul would say that.

    To be fair, let’s observe one logical fact: the vast majority anti-zionists are not anti-semitic, they know what happened during WWII and refuse to let History repeat itself like that. So do I, for the memory of my great parents, resistants without guns, who hid jews during those dark times.
    So all anti-semitic are (or should be) anti-zionists. Thus, there is the possibility for those anti-semitic to be supporting Dieudonné. But I guess this what you call a colateral damage. This is the kind of people you don’t like, but once in a while, you agree on one thing. I guess if Hitler had said the sky was blue, I’d have agreed with him, like anyone else on Earth, *on this very fact*.

    Dieudonné, as a mixed-race man (French white mother, Cameroonian black father), has been insulted so many times in the medias: ‘sick brain’, ‘he’s just a nigger’, etc. And those *zionists* (coincidence?) insulting him have NEVER been prosecuted and will never be. No, they parade each day in our official mass medias, washing people’s brains. And our government applauses. This is not a democracy anymore.

    Let’s keep cool and enjoy his huge talent as an humorist. By the way, he’s the last one having fame and glory on Youtube and especially in real life, but his name is mysteriously missing from the ‘favourite humorists choosen by the public’ charts.

    Those in this chart are all zero-critical or limited-critical of our system. You start to love coincidences too, don’t you?

    He spends a certain amount of time with political polemists, often accused of being anti-semitic as well (or ‘fascist’ or ‘conspirationists’, these labels are easy to stick on somebody’s back but appear almost imposible to throw away, even after proven wrong).

    If you feel curious, I would suggest François Asselineau, Alain Soral or the great Etienne Chouard. Feel free to youtube them, and you’ll see by yourself. The latter has some videos with English subtitles.
    The problem is: non-zionists jews (YES! JEWS!) support Dieudonné and his ‘dangerous’ political friends. But that, you would never hear a single world about it. Coinci… quoi ?


  • BH in Iowa, I do not think Obama was doing the “quenelle” which has gained popularity this year 2013 and was unknown in America in 2012. If the picture were recent I would agree with you but this is an anachronism.

  • Honestly, at this point does anyone really think Obama didn’t know exactly what he was doing?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features Has Shia LaBeouf Reached the End of the Line?

    Has Shia LaBeouf Reached the End of the Line?

    Was Shia LaBeouf’s performance art piece at Manhattan’s Angelica Film Center (where he spent three days watching his own films) a sign of madness or genius? Judging from the lines and the fans, it was the latter. Shortly before 6 a.m. on Thursday, approximately 140 people were on line for the last day of the live-streamed event at Angelica Film Center. Fans who waited were happy to give their opinions. “I don’t think he’s crazy,” said Elliot Quartz, an 18-year-old student at the New School, who waited […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Jewish Artists From New York Release New Rap Album in English, Hebrew, Aramaic

    Jewish Artists From New York Release New Rap Album in English, Hebrew, Aramaic

    Eden Pearlstein freely admits that he has an addiction. But his brings people up instead of bringing them down. “I am a chronic collaborator,” says Pearlstein, a 35-year-old rapper who goes by the moniker of Eprhyme, and has released several solo albums. “Deeper and Higher” — his new album — is a collaboration with Shir Yakov Feit, who co-writes the songs and music. The friends and fellow artists both explore the relationship between man and God, and the benefit and emotional weight of introspection. With lyrics in English, Hebrew, and Aramaic, the artists stress […]

    Read more →