France

Dieudonné and the French state of anti-Semitism

Just a quick post on the row over the ever controversial French comedian Dieudonné, who has been drawing attention for recent anti-Jewish comments about a prominent French Jewish broadcaster and for the growing popularity of his possibly anti-Jewish hand gesture, the “quenelle.” (For background in English, see The Independent here.)

Some interesting thoughts here from BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield (full article here):

Dieudonne’s dalliance with the French far-right draws the headlines because it seems so bizarre. And it is true that his bandwagon attracts a fair share of ultra-nationalists and theorists of the Jewish-capitalist take-over. His ally the writer Alain Soral is a prime example. However at his stage performances many of the audience are disaffected youngsters of black and Arab immigrant background. … For this largely Muslim audience, putting the blame on “Zionists” is an easy sell. It doesn’t just explain why their co-religionists in Palestine are going under. It explains why back here in France, they are too.

And for anyone confused as to how Dieudonné 1.- came to develop his sense of comedy (interestingly, he started his career with a longtime Jewish friend and fellow comic Elie Semoun)  2.- could become so popular in France, this New Yorker profile from 2007 is a must-read. This last quote, on Dieudonné’s conception of “Frenchness,” particularly stands out:

“…I will continue to clown around, whatever happens. I have nothing to lose. I am like a Pygmy in his forest who sees the big trees falling and says, ‘Let’s go, let’s go!’ The French Revolution is my tradition. It’s a mind-set of the French, that you need a revolution. I am deeply French.”

-Posted by Rachael Levy-

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