BBC, quenelle & Berlin Holocaust Memorial
8 January 2014
This is Alain Soral, a former French Front National member, doing a "quenelle" at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
Soral was interviewed on BBC's Newsnight by Jeremy Paxman as part of a feature on French antisemite, Dieudonne. (See it here. The Dieudonne feature is from 38min 00sec to 45min 58sec. The Soral interview begins at 42min 40sec.)
No mention was made of the above photo. It did actually appear in the Newsnight feature (at 41min 45sec), about 3 minutes before Soral's interview: but in a collection of quenelle photos that showed it being used in an antisemitic manner. Apparently, nobody realised that Soral was the same man as in the photo.
So, Soral got away with telling Jeremy Paxman that the quenelle is
a gesture against the system, against the powers that be
Crucially, this is not to call Soral a liar. He did the quenelle at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. By his own definition, this is an anti-system act, it is "against the powers that be". It is far more shocking and revelatory to take his words at face value. They tell us that Soral equates the Holocaust and Jewish suffering with those who run the system. And, he is not alone: this is why Dieudonne attacks the Holocaust and Jewish suffering. It is why, here in Britain, Gilad Atzmon is salivating over Dieudonne. (See here.)
If Paxman had seen the Soral photo, then his audience would have learnt some essential truths about contemporary antisemitism, its links with opposing "the powers that be", and the role of Holocaust diminishment (sometimes even denial) within this seductive cocktail.
Instead, Soral was allowed to continue. Next, he blamed CRIF, the representative body of the French Jewish community, for having "decreed" the quenelle as antisemitic, as now decided by the French Government. Having prepared the ingredients, Soral's antisemitic cake could now be eaten. Rhetorically, he asked Paxman:
is there a deep link between the system of domination that Mr Dieudonne is fighting against and the organised Jewish community?
There is more, but the damage is done. The "system of domination" is now linked with "the organised Jewish community" and Dieudonne is its courageous oponent.
Simultaneously, this entire episode shows the banality, the continuity and the seductive faux intellectualism of contemporary antisemitism. It believes a mock sieg heil at a Holocaust memorial to be a very clever, brave and even amusing "anti-system" act. Is there a more fitting image for contemporary antisemitism?