Israel welcomes anti-Semitic Belgian parade’s removal from UNESCO list

Israel on Saturday welcomed a decision by UNESCO to drop a famous Belgian carnival off its heritage list due to grotesquely anti-Semitic displays.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Israel expressed rare appreciation for the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency (UNESCO) a day after the organization removed the Aalst carnival from its Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

In the past, the festivity included a parade featuring bulbous-nosed Jewish puppets standing on money bags, marchers dressed in Klu Klux Klan costumes, and young Europeans donning blackface makeup. Last year, a float called “Shabbat Year” included two giant puppets in traditional Hasidic fur hats and long side-locks, surrounded by coins and several rats.

“The removal of the carnival sends a strong message that such anti-Semitic expressions have no place in the organization and in the world,” Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz also praised the decision to exclude the festival and called on the Belgian government “to come out clearly and concisely against the inclusion of anti-Semitic displays in the carnival.” He added that “the scourge of anti-Semitism threatens not only the Jewish people, but every society and country in which it exists.”

The festival was expelled during an annual meeting of a 24-nation committee in Bogota, Columbia, to review nominations. The Belgian delegates declined to react to the decision, but it was the Belgian government which requested the move.

The ministry said this year’s edition of the parade included “numerous vitriolic displays of antisemitism,” prompting it to lobby for the removal.

Israel and the United States quit UNESCO at the start of 2019, saying the organization was fostering anti-Israel bias.