The gesture has spread rapidly in France. Jean-Yves Camus, a French academic who studies the extreme right, says the quenelle has become a “badge of identity, especially among the young, but it is doubtful that all of them understand its true meaning”. Dieudonné, Mr Camus adds, has become the hero of a movement which sprawls across the traditional boundaries of right and left – anti-system, hungry for conspiracy theories, convinced that the world is run by Washington and Tel Aviv [sic]. Mr Camus says that the “spinal column” of the movement is the conviction that “the Jews pull all the strings”.
Despite several convictions for anti-Semitic remarks, Dieudonné has strayed once again over the boundary between self-proclaimed anti-Zionism and outright provocation. During his one-man show, he attacked Patrick Cohen, a Jewish radio journalist who has publicly criticised him. Dieudonné said: “When the wind turns, I don’t think he’ll have time to pack a suitcase. When I hear Patrick Cohen talking, you see, I think of gas ovens.” France Inter, the radio station for which Mr Cohen works, has brought a case against Dieudonné for provoking racial hatred.
It has become a sport to take photographs of oneself making the quenelle in front of places of Jewish significance, like synagogues, Auschwitz, the Kotel, etc., or with unsuspecting Jews (photos courtesy Algemeiner.com).
The quenelle at Auschwitz
The quenelle at the Kotel, with an Israeli soldier
The quenelle with Haredi Jews