Belgian carnival anti-Semitism conflict

This 6 March 2019 video says about itself:

Belgium: anti-Semitism row over stereotyped Jews in carnival float

A float featuring stereotyped Jewish figures at a carnival near Brussels has been widely criticised as anti-Semitic. The float in the town of Aalst, 25km (15 miles) from the European Parliament, featured the grinning figures of orthodox Jews standing on large piles of money. Local Jewish organisations said it was “typical of Nazism of 1939“.

Anti-Semitic carnival float in Mainz, 1939 nazi Germany. Belga photo

This photo shows an anti-Semitic carnival float in Mainz, February 1939 nazi Germany. It shows an anti-Semitically stereotyped Jew, with the caption ‘Purely Aryan’ on his hat. A sign says: Aryan business. The float mocks Jews who, according to nazi propaganda, cheated, claiming falsely that their businesses had become ‘Aryan’.

That 1939 nazi float photo ‘is a black and white version of the recent Aalst carnival float’; Christoph Busch says. According to Busch, there were many more similar anti-Semitic carnival floats in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mr Busch is the director of the Holocaust memorial museum in the former SS Mechelen transit camp. During World War II, the German occupiers deported from that camp over 25,000 Belgian Jews and Roma to the nazi death camps. Only 1,240 of them survived.

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard today:

The European Commission also calls the float with Jewish caricatures in Aalst “unthinkable.” But mayor Christoph D’Haese continues to defend his carnival revelers.

Anti-Semitic or carnivalesque?

By our editor Simon Grymonprez

“This is purely anti-Semitism. Even if it was not their intention to be anti-Semitic, then this testifies to a lack of historical awareness and good taste.” Hans Knoop, the spokesman for the Forum of Jewish Organizations, does not mince words: the float that passed this weekend through the town center of Aalst went too far for the Jewish community.

The Aalst carnival group De Vismooil’n came up with a float with caricature dolls of Jews, with big hook noses, curls and a cash box. With this, De Vismooil’n wanted to make clear: this year we are saving our money for a more beautiful float next year.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations and the Coordination Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium promptly filed a complaint with the federal Equal Opportunities Center Unia. They will also ask the United Nations to remove Aalst Carnival from the list of immaterial cultural heritage.

… The carnival revelers claim it was humour, but Busch does not find that an argument. “This is dehumanizing and hurtful to the Jewish community. It may not be intended in an evil way, but this contributes to anti-Semitism. You give anti-Semitism a legitimacy in the form of entertainment.’

… D’Haese continues to defend his carnival revelers.

D’Haese is the mayor of Aalst. Of the right-wing N-VA party. However, fellow (Jewish; Antwerp city) N-VA politician André Gantman does consider the float anti-Semitic.

UMESCO condemns Aalst cardinal float: here.

The Belgian anti-racism watchdog says that the float did not break the law.

The Belgian Guys Who Made The Anti-Semitic Carnival Float Aren’t Sorry: here.

6 thoughts on “Belgian carnival anti-Semitism conflict

  1. Pingback: Brazil’s Bolsonaro attacks carnival | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Blairite pro-capitalist anti-Semitism against ‘anti-Semitism’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. April 22, 2019 By Katarzyna Markusz

    WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A town in southern Poland reenacted the custom of casting judgement on Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, using a life-size effigy of a stereotypical Jew with a hooked nose and sidelocks.

    The event in the town of Pruchnik, called “Judgment over Judas,” took place on Friday afternoon. On a pole on Pope John Paul II Street, the residents hung the large effigy of the Jew which bore the label “Judas 2019, traitor!”

    The crowd cut the effigy down from the post, dragged it on a rope through the town, stopping at the square in front of the church and at the street crossing where the effigy was beaten 30 times. After reaching the local river, the head of the effigy was cut off and the effigy was burned.

    The rite attracted a crowd of onlookers. Children were encouraged to beat the effigy. There were some anti-Semitic cries, such as “Five more hits for wanting compensation from Poland.”

    The custom of the judgment over Judas has occurred at least since the eighteenth century and takes place in the days preceding Christian Easter. In the past, it was accompanied by acts of direct violence against Jewish residents. In the years of the Polish People’s Republic, the tradition gradually disappeared.


  4. (JTA) — The Belgian state’s watchdog on racism has come out with its verdict on a parade float from earlier this year that was slammed as anti-Semitic: It was anti-Semitic, but its creators were not intentionally racist.

    The report released Thursday by the Inter-Federal Equal Opportunities Center, or UNIA, recommends clearing the Aalst float creators of criminal responsibility while calling for the creators and their critics to show “more empathy.”

    It comes amid concern among local Jews about what they see as the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism in Belgian society

    Much of the report was devoted to the 2019 edition of Carnival in Aalst, but numerous complaints have been filed to UNIA in recent years about the imagery on display during Carnival. In Belgium and throughout parts of Europe and Latin America, Carnival celebrations are held annually in anticipation of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter.

    The Carnival in March featured a float with giant figures of Orthodox Jews, including one with a rat on his shoulder, clutching bags of money. Revelers dressed as Orthodox Jews danced on the float to a song about money. Organizers said the display was to protest rising living costs.

    The display provoked a torrent of condemnations, including from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, which called it racist. The Aalst Carnival is Belgium’s most colorful event and in 2010 was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

    Aalst’s mayor and parade organizers have dismissed all criticism of the parade, saying it was harmless satire and not anti-Semitic. Earlier this month, the organizers printed caricatures of Jews with golden teeth and red hooked noses on ribbons meant to be worn at the next edition of the parade. They read “UNESCO, what a joke.”

    UNIA said in its report that the display had “clear anti-Semitic character.”

    Stereotypes, UNIA wrote, “may have unconsciously led to the association between Jews and money and mice/rats and maybe even a reference to the Nazi iconography from the era of Der Sturmer,” UNIA said, naming a Nazi propaganda paper.

    “In that sense, the float in its entirety reproduces unmistakable anti-Semitic stereotypes. However, the contextual elements and the explanation of the responsible parties from the Vismooil’n group led to a decision that this cannot be considered a malicious intent in the legal meaning of the term.”

    Belgian law states that hate speech is criminal only if it is intended to cause offense.


  5. Pingback: Again anti-Semitism controversy at Aalst, Belgium carnival | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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