Between the 21st and 26th of February, the Aalst Carnival parade takes place.
In 2019, the event saw a large number of complaints from Jewish organisations and public institutions due to the antisemitic stereotypical dresses and costumes during the parade.
In December last year, following the attempt by Christoph d'Haese, the mayor of Aalst, to evade censure of the event by pre-emptively de-listing it from the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO publicly withdrew its official recognition of the Aalst Carnival.
To avoid a similar scenario this year, various organisations and institutions – ranging from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel to the European Parliament Working group on Antisemitism and EUJS – urged the Mayor and City Council of Aalst to take action and regulate the exposed costumes and dresses.
Nonetheless, no action was taken from authorities in Aalst, and yet again, on the contrary, the organizers doubled down on antisemitism. On top of several antisemitic stereotypes present such as Jews with big crooked noses and gold bars, in the parade, Orthodox Jews were portrayed as insects, while other participants were dressed as Nazi SS soldiers. Such stereotypes are typically the ones used by Nazi propaganda in the 1930s. They dehumanise Jews and Jewish identity and downplay the holocaust. These caricatures are dangerous as they imply justification for verbal and physical abuse against Jews.
The European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) is worried about seeing the degree of acceptance of the local Belgian authorities.
We strictly condemn the parade and call on the organisers to stop antisemitism now!