Thursday, February 6, 2020

Belgium: Despite condemnations, carnival is expected to display again antisemitic puppets

Via European Jewish Press (EJP):

The city of Aalst in Belgium is located only 51 km from the Kaserne Dossin in Mechelen, the transit camp from where more than 25,000 Jews and Roma were deported from 1942 to 1944 on 28 transports to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Only 1,219 Jews survived. A Holocaust Museum in Mechelen recounts these tragic events.

Aalst is famous for its infamous annual traditional carnival which almost every year displays antisemitic floats. Last year, Jewish groups, but also the European Commission, condemned the carnival’s racist and antisemitic caricatures on display, including a float featuring two giant puppets of Orthodox Jews with hooked noses and rats sitting on money bags.

Caricatures which shocked the Jewish community as they were reminiscent of Nazi period propaganda.

In December, UNESCO, the Paris-based United Nations agency for education and culture, decided to remove the carnival from its ”World Cultural Heritage” list.

It said in a statement that it "stands by its founding principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect among peoples and condemns all forms of racism, antisemitism and xenophobia."

Despite this decision and overall condemnation, organisers of the 2020 carnival edition released at the end of last year dozens of ribbons depicting Jews in a stereotypical fashion with a hat, ringlets, a hooked nose and golden teeth. They also made fun of UNESCO.

One month after ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, the Aalst carnival procession which will take place on 23 February is expected to display again the puppets dressed as Jews with hooked noses. The Forum of Jewish Organizations said it is submitting a new complaint to the European Commission in advance and is hoping to prevent the procession.
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