French media published the photograph of Parker performing the so-called quenelle salute, an anti-Semitic gesture created by French comedian Dieudonne Mlaba Mlaba, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Tuesday.
Parker was standing backstage at theater with Mlaba in the photograph. The gesture is similar to the Nazi salute but is different enough to avoid France's laws against displaying Nazi symbols.
"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," Parker said in a statement Monday.
"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," he added.
The Anti-Defamation League praised Parker's apology.
"We call on those who have posed with the quenelle to follow Parker's lead and stop using it. Responsible public figures should condemn those who use a gesture which was created to express anti-Semitism," it said in a statement.