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Jewish Comedian Calls Out Anelka for Support of Anti-Semitic Comedian Dieudonné (VIDEO)

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Nicolas Anelka performing the quenelle salute after scoring a goal on December 28, 2013. Photo: Screenshot.

Nicolas Anelka performing the quenelle salute after scoring a goal on December 28, 2013. Photo: Screenshot.

David Baddiel, a British-Jewish comedian, football writer and documentarian, told BBC Newsnight on Tuesday that the controversy surrounding West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka’s quenelle was about anti-Semitism, at its core, but, in France – where Anelka is from – many believe that the symbol represents anti-government and anti-establishment attitudes.

Anelka’s explanation for his use of the offensive gesture, that the salute wasn’t anti-Semitic, just a hat tip to his friend, French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, has already cost West Brom their lead sponsor, property website Zoopla, whose Jewish co-owner, Alex Chesterman, was left waiting for an apology from the footballer.

“Anelka seemed to be saying, ‘no it’s not anti-Semitic, it’s just a gesture in support of my friend, the enormous anti-Semite’,” Baddiel told BBC Newsnight. “That’s the point when I thought something was not quite right.”

Baddiel said he Tweeted out his thoughts on the quenelle, Anelka and Dieudonné and learned from some French Twitter users what their opinion was:

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“In France, they said, no it’s anti-government, anti-establishment, but that has become very mixed up with anti-Semitic behavior,” Baddiel told BBC Newsnight.

One said to him via Twitter, “No, it’s against the French government and the Zionist cabal.” At that point, Baddiel said, “You’re probably getting quite close to anti-Semitism…”

He said Dieudonné is referred to as a comedian, so it becomes a question of free speech, but he is really a provocateur, meaning that his message is being received as intended.

“[Dieudonné] made a film called ‘The Anti-Semite,’ which is not an ironic film, its targets are the French establishment and Jews,” Baddiel said. “I think there’s an alignment in his mind, and his supporters’ minds.”

Baddiel has campaigned against anti-Semitism in football by making the ‘The Y-Word,  Kick it Out’ documentary about the Tottenham Hotspurs fans who refer to themselves as the “Yids,” because of its historical connection to a Jewish neighborhood.

On screaming “Yids” at games, Baddiel said, “When Spurs fans do it, it’s different than when Chelsea fans do it; it’s more complicated, nuanced.”

Watch Baddiel on BBC Newsnight:

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