Wiesenthal Center Accepts Tony Parker Apology, Calls for Statement in French

December 30, 2013 4:47 pm 15 comments

Tony Parker and French anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné making the offensive 'quenelle' gesture. Photo: Screenshot/Slate.fr.

Jewish human rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), has accepted an apology issued by NBA star Tony Parker, after strongly criticizing his past use of the “quenelle” gesture which is widely considered to be anti-Semitic, and has been described as “the Nazi salute in reverse.” However, the group said that it is crucial that Parker also issues the statement in French.

“The Simon wiesenthal Center takes Mr. Parker at his word,” Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper told The Algemeiner.

“There is  however, one more crucial step that he needs to take:  A statement in French to  reassure 600,000 French Jews and the multitude of his young fans in France that he disassoicates himself from the ‘quenelle’ salute and everything it stands for,” Cooper said.

On Sunday, Cooper called for Parker to apologize after The Algemeiner reported the use of his offensive gesture.

Parker should, “apologize for his use of the quenelle ‘Nazi’ salute,” Cooper said at the time. “As a leading sports figure on both sides of the Atlantic, Parker has a special moral obligation to disassociate himself from a gesture that the government of France has identified as anti-Semitic.”

Parker responded with a statement of regret on Monday and said that a photo showing him standing alongside anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné, who created the gesture, was three years old.

“While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it,” Parker said. “When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful.”

“Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions,” the NBA star promised. “Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt.”

But not everyone was satisfied with Parker’s response.

“He apologized regarding the picture, but he didn’t apologize regarding being photographed with a well known anti-semitic provocateur, so for me the apology was not complete,” French artist and activist Ron Agam, told The Algemeiner.

“Three years ago Dieudonné was seen publicly with his friend, well known holocaust denier president Ahmadinejad in Iran, and his visit was very well publicized,” Agam said. “No one could ignore what Dieudonné meant three years ago.”

The “quenelle” gesture has been used by followers of Dieudonné 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 French 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.”

The gesture has also been used by other prominent figures and sports stars including French soccer player Nicolas Anelka, who apologized on Monday for his own use of the ‘quenelle,” after scoring a goal for British soccer club West Bromwich.

15 Comments

  • Well you see if want moderation do not publish me but I was a child in the second world war half of my family was transformed into ashes so you want me to forgive? No never again I regret never again will I allow it happen again

  • Alison Weston

    I would urge, in fact I dare, all anti-Semites to Google Kasim Hafeez and learn how this once ardently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic radical Muslim, now a proud Zionist, took the huge step to educate himself about Israel. He is an inspiration. The demonizing of Israel in the media has to stop.

  • Let off the hook. His apology dosn’t mean a thing

  • The Quenelle – today’s means of standing there and saying, for all the world to see, “look at me – I’m a fascist”. How pathetic!

  • AGAM, HAS A POINT.
    IF PEOPLE CLAIM THAT THEY DO NOT MEAN ANY HARM, THEN THEY SHOULD STOP SOCIALIZING WITH THE ANTISEMITIC COMEDIAN………

  • Goodness, is there no end to the crying??????????????????

    • Who’s crying? Nice, 18 question marks you are awesome!

    • There will be an end, when people like Dieudonne will be frighten to express their anti-Semitism. People like Dieudonne allow themselves to do what they do because nobody punishes them for doing what they do.

    • If you mean crying about the Shoah and the millions of victims, you are both wrong and stupid. This is not about crying, it is about responsibility and making sure it doesn’t happen again. Jews will not be victims.

    • Shame on you nobody is crying just the 6 million and some more dead from the holocaust!!!!!!!!!!

  • I’m glad I wrote to him on FaceBook. I accept the apology, it is good enough he isn’t trying to defend it. Even though Dieudonné is absolutely an anti-Semite having been convicted 7 times of such things at least Parker shows regret and understanding that as a public figure and a professional athlete we hold him to a higher standard.

    • Parker didn’t exactly show regret, he just did the right thing to stop any controversy, he explained that he didn’t know the meaning of the gesture at the time, he thought that was part of a comedy act and did it backstage, as a picture was taken with the comedian. Not the best time to think about what you are doing, that’s easy to be set up. I am deeply disappointed that people condemned TP in advance, without even trying to think for a minute that, of course this guy is not anti-semitic in any way, maybe we should ask him if he knew what he was doing that day. It’s easier to burn the guy and order him to apologize, it’s better buzz, than sending him an email to ask about it. Calling him to apologize in the press instead of calling him directly (the guy has a website, a facebook page and a twitter account, you can reach him easily through the Spurs front office before raising controversy).

  • In 2004 , DIeudonné appeared in a french live tv show with a fake rabbi costume and finished his 2 minutes speach with a real nazi salute and yelled “HEIL ISRAEL”… Since then no one wanted him anymore on tv, so he started his antisemitism spread all over. He has been condemned 7 times, so EVERYONE KNOWS HIS POSITION… Even TP.

    When french basketball team won the european championship, they all did another controversal dieudonné salute. (which means there is only the sun above us), which is also anti sionist.

    TP didn’t denounce Dieudonné antisemitism with this statement, he just said he wasn’t aware. Which is not possible.

    • Wrong on both counts.

      The so-called salute performed by the french basketball team was the very same gesture every champion does, raising one finger. Ben Wallace and other Pistons did it when they won a championship, I think Magic did it, too. It’s a common sports gesture. It means “we’re number one”. Reporters at the scene even testified that the french team looked a little tight, because they were with the President and were a little shy, very serious, and photographers asked them to be a little more feisty, a little cooler, so some of them did that gesture. A victory sign.

      And Tony Parker just visited the comedian, went backstage and a picture was taken, didn’t think twice about it because it’s a celebrity thing. Like when people go see Madonna backstage. It doesn’t mean anything. They may not even be pals.

      Now, a guy raises a finger as a victory celebration, we pull a 3-year-old picture and boom, you got a whole case against him.

      Doesn’t matter TP has no history of wrongdoing. He just got burned for nothing. Had to apologize. And now they’re saying he should do it again in French.

      That’s wrong. Just a shame.

  • I’m currently in France and the media insisted on the fact that Ankelka takes full responsibility for his “quenelle” and doesn’t intend to apologize at all.

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