“The sneer is aimed at UNESCO, but it is pretty difficult to find a funny image of that. So we chose Jews,” said the carnival designer.
By World Israel News Staff
The upcoming Aalst Carnival in Belgium “makes fun of Jews again, despite anti-Semitism accusations” that were leveled at it after the same event last year, reports The Brussels Times.
According to Flemish daily Het Laatste Nieuws, participants in the Aalst Carnival have now “targeted UNESCO and the Jews with a new provocation by releasing 150 different carnival ribbons in view of the 2020 parade,” writes European Jewish Press.
“Unesco, what a farce,” reads one of the ribbons above a cartoon of a Jew with a hooked nose.
The event is scheduled to take place February 22-26.
Last year, Christoph D’Haese, the mayor of Aalst, defended a float of bulbous-nosed Jewish puppets standing on money bags, marchers dressed in Klu Klux Klan costumes, and young Europeans donning blackface makeup.
The annual carnival was honored 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).
“The mayor of Aalst, Christoph D’Haese, and Alderman Jean-Jacques De Gucht were summoned to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September 2019, where they had to argue that their previous carnival procession was not anti-Semitic,” says The Brussels Times.
‘We recoil in disgust’
The event last March in the Belgian city, located 30 kilometers east of Brussels, brought about “an outcry among Jewish groups… UNESCO, and the European Commission which denounced the anti-Semitic representation,” reports European Jewish Press.
“In December 2019, UNESCO will decide whether or not the Carnival of Aalst will remain on the World Heritage list,” writes The Brussels Times.
“There are no nasty things on them,” said Kris Vonck, the designer of the ribbons, quoted by Het Laatste Nieuws.
“They are not about gassing or concentration camps. We are not really making fun of Jews directly. We are mainly focusing on UNESCO, not Jews,” he said.
“We have released a series of 150 unique carnival ribbons that we distribute among collectors in Aalst. There are six different figures and 150 different slogans,” said the designer.
However, Jewish groups have “demanded that the carnival event be removed from the UNESCO list… pointing to the context of rising anti-Semitism in Europe,” says European Jewish Press.
Being on the list makes the carnival eligible for funding from the U.N. agency, it notes.
“It is now clear that UNESCO… must remove any association or sponsorship of the carnival,” said European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, as quoted by the European Jewish news outlet.
“The thing about a joke is that it is supposed to make everyone laugh. And we Jews have a fantastic sense of humor. But no Jew anywhere in Europe is laughing,” said the rabbi.
“Instead at the grotesque way that carnival seeks to portray us, money-grabbing, greedy and big-nosed. Why? Because it is straight out of the Nazi playbook. It is dangerous. It seeks to set apart Jews from mainstream Belgian society. And it’s offensive,” added Margolin.
Most of the slogans say things like “UNESCO, what a joke” and “We make fun of everyone equally,” said Vonck.
The figures on the ribbons are all Jews, but there is one Muslim saying ‘They have made fun of us, too,’ he notes, according to the report.
“The Jews are depicted in a stereotypical fashion with a hat, ringlets, a hooked nose, and golden teeth,” says The Brussels Times.
“The sneer is aimed at UNESCO, but it is pretty difficult to find a funny image of that. So we chose Jews,” said Vonck.