'Antisemitic' Belgian carnival continues to rouse Jewish anger

"These ribbons represent a wilful desire to offend,” European Jewish representative says.

Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015 (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
The European Jewish Association Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, said that UNESCO needs to pull any association or sponsorship of the Carnival of Aalst following the persistence of antisemitism.
Organizers of the parade in Belgium provoked international uproar over 150 published caricatures on ribbons, mocking Jews and UNESCO ahead of the 2020 event.
“A one off is a one off and we hoped that this was the case with the disgusting images at last year’s carnival. Instead these ribbons represent a wilful desire to offend,” Margolin said.
The caricatures, some featuring Orthodox Jews with red, hooked noses and golden teeth, were printed on ribbons intended for participants in the annual event, which was added in 2010 to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.
The Mayor of the city, the EJA said in a press release, was already summoned to UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September 2019, to argue that their previous carnival procession was not antisemitic after it depicted caricatures of orthodox Jews with hooked noses standing on chests of money surrounded by rats.
The designer of the 2020 caricatures told Het Laatste Nieuws daily that they target UNESCO’s criticism of last year’s display and are “not against Jews.” He was not named.
One caricature shows a red-headed Orthodox Jew with golden teeth and is captioned: “UNESCO, what a joke.”
Hans Knoop, spokesperson for the Forum on Jewish Organizations of Belgium’s Flemish Region, called the caricatures “pure provocation” and a “manifestation of antisemitism.”
Aalst Mayor Christoph D’Haese and organizers dismissed criticism over March’s display, saying it reflected the spirit of irreverence at the event.
UNESCO is currently deliberating over whether or not to remove the event from its list over the float.
Margolin also said he will be “writing to UNESCO to demand it ceases to fund or associate in anyway with this carnival from now on.”
“The Carnival itself is now beyond the pale and we expect nothing from people who get their humour kicks from kicking Jews. This is supposed to be 2019 not 1939,” he added.
The 2013 event featured prisoners and Nazis holding canisters of poison gas.