We try to stay away from sensationalist headlines when we can here at SportsGrid, but it’s tough to think of anything besides “Tony Parker Hates Jews Now, Apparently” for a post regarding a photo of Tony Parker, hanging out with a noted anti-Semite, doing “reverse” Nazi salute, and think anything except “Well, I guess Tony Parker hates Jews?” So, sorry about that.
Anyway, look at this photo, published recently but taken earlier this year at a concert:
On the right: legendary NBA point guard Tony Parker. On the left, a French comedian and activist named Dieudonné. Said activist made famous the salute you see above, called a quenelle, which he calls “anti-Zionist.”
So here’s the thing: Dieudonné has been convicted on antisemitism charges — not once, not twice, not thrice, not four or five or six but seven times. He’s been denounced by multiple Jewish organizations and his home nation of France is considering banning his performances. Generally speaking, if you want to be perceived as someone who doesn’t hate Jews, you shouldn’t hang out with this guy.
But here’s Parker, hanging out with this guy and doing the salute. He’s not even the first French athlete to get in trouble for doing the salute this week — Nicolas Anelka did the same thing during a game, but claimed it was a tribute to his friend. Parker would likely say the same thing.
It’s hard to imagine a regular person making this same excuse and getting away with it. “Yeah, I hang out with this dude who hates Jews. I publicly support him by making his famed gestures — that’s how close we are. But yeah, I don’t actually agree with him on the things that define his public persona. We just talk about baguettes and stuff.”
So does Tony Parker hate Jews? Perhaps not actively, but even this ambiguous affront to a segment of the world’s population is unacceptable, particularly for a man of Parker’s stature. We’ll see if he comments on the situation in the coming days.
UPDATE: Parker released a statement apologizing for the gesture, saying he was unaware of its negative connotation. Full statement below, via NBA.com:
“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. 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. 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.”
Whew. We’re glad he doesn’t actually hate Jews. That would be awkward for us.