Dieudonné and Netanyahu

An odd coincidence in the meaning of names.

Prof. George Jochnowitz

OpEds Prof. George Jochnowitz
Prof. George Jochnowitz

French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala is the inventor of a gesture called the “quenelle,” which is a type of Nazi salute, although it points down rather than up. He awarded a prize to Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson in 2008. When people in France were saying “Je suis Charlie,” expressing their sympathy for victims of the killings at Charlie Hebdo, Dieudonné said, “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly,” thus expressing his support for Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people at the Jewish Hypercacher supermarket in Paris.

Dieudonné is called a comedian, but there is nothing funny about supporting terrorist murderers. His name is French for “God gave". It has the same meaning as the name “Netanyahu.” Perhaps a good way—and a funny way—to insult Dieudonné M’bala M’bala would  be to call him “Netanyahu M’bala M’bala.” In all likelihood, Binyamin Netanyahu is the person whom Dieudonné hates more than anybody else in the world.

Would we also be insulting Bibi Netanyahu? I don’t think so. Netanyahu knows that his surname has the same meaning as two given names: Jonathan and Nathaniel.

The Hebrew word meaning “gave” is natan in Modern Hebrew, and is spelled Netan in Bibi’s name and generally spelled Nathan in older translations. The prefix jo- and the suffix yahu are short forms of the tetragrammaton, the four letters of a name of the Deity.

The suffix -el or -iel refers to God. This same suffix is found in names such as Michael (who is like God), Israel (wrestled with God), Uriel (God is my light) and many others. The prefix jo- is found in Johannan (God’s graciousness) and Joshua (God saves). If Binyamin Netanyahu ever thought about Dieudonné, he certainly must have realized that their names have the same meaning.

There are also names of Greek origin meaning “God gave” or “gift of God”: Theodore and Dorothy. In addition to all these given names, Jonathan is the surname of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, whose term will end May 29th.

The only person in the world who would be laughed at and insulted by being called Netanyahu M’bala M’bala is Dieudonné. Let’s do it and have a good laugh.