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October 24, 2019 9:35 am

EU Jewish Leader Calls on UNESCO to Act Against Antisemitic Caricatures at Festival

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A view of a parade float at the Carnival of Aalst in March 2019, featuring two Orthodox Jewish caricatures that were widely condemned as antisemitic. Photo: Screenshot. – A European Jewish leader is calling on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, to act against organizers of the Carnival of Aalst in Belgium for its plan to use antisemitic caricatures at its upcoming 2020 parade.

Organizers of the 2020 event published 150 caricatures mocking Jews ahead of the event.

The caricatures, which feature Orthodox Jews with red, hooked noses and golden teeth, were printed on ribbons for participants. The carnival, which was recognized by UNESCO in 2010 as a “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” is an annual three-day event in the days preceding Ash Wednesday.

“A one-off is a one-off, and we hoped that this was the case with the disgusting images at last year’s carnival. Instead, these ribbons represent a willful desire to offend,” European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement. “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.”

“Instead, we recoil in disgust 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 its offensive. Full stop.”

Last March, the parade drew international outrage and condemnation when a float carried two giant figures of observant Jews that were viewed by many as antisemitic. The Jewish figures were depicted as caricatures featured with side curls and grotesquely large noses, sitting on bags of money.

However, the ribbon-makers argue that the they are in the spirit of the carnival, which is known for its over-the-top satirical take on religion, politics and culture.

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