Belgian mayor: Anti-Semitic carnival display ‘should be allowed’

The mayor of Aalst defended a parade float featuring grotesque caricatures of Jews, bags of money and rats displayed before thousands of revelers in the Belgian city.

By World Israel News Staff

“In [our city], it should be allowed,” declared Christoph D’Haese, the mayor of Aalst, a Belgian city thrust into the spotlight after a recent parade included bulbous-nosed Jewish puppets standing on money bags, marchers dressed in Klu Klux Klan costumes, and young Europeans donning blackface makeup.

The mayor’s comments were specifically connected to a float called “Shabbat Year,” adorned with two giant puppets with massive noses, traditional Hasidic fur hats and long side-locks, surrounded by coins and several rats.

The float also featured dancers in costumes mirroring the puppets whose routine began with a shout of “shalom” and included a move in which a pocket was opened, exposing something that was not clearly visible in a video of the event.

After widespread condemnation by Jewish groups such as B’nai B’rith International and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in addition to other organizations and governmental bodies, including the European Commission, D’Haese responded, “[I]t’s not up to [me] to forbid” such displays,” arguing that the “the carnival participants had no sinister intentions,” reported Het Laatste Nieuws.

A spokesperson from the European Commission did not concur, commenting to reporters on Tuesday, “It is unthinkable that such imagery is being paraded on European streets, 70 years after the Holocaust,” JTA reported.

The annual carnival at which the anti-Semitic float was displayed this year was honored back in 2010 by being added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which did not respond to questions or issue a statement about the Aalst parade as of Tuesday.

UNESCO has passed a number of resolutions denying the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem and attempting to refute historical evidence proving this nation’s connection to the land in which the modern Jewish state exists.

‘Everything has become so expensive’

JTA reported that a carnival spokesperson claimed the float represented commentary on how “everything has become so expensive.”

Past entrants in the parade have included a float modeled after a Nazi train car used to deliver Jews to death camps, which was surrounded by members of the float’s sponsor dressed as both Nazi SS officers and ultra-Orthodox Jews, according to JTA. Other imagery on the float included canisters labeled “Zyklon B,” the gas Nazis used to murder Jews during the Holocaust.