Antisemitism is alive and well in Aalst, Belgium. The city of 289,000 people in East Flanders is hosting its annual carnival parade today. With it comes controversy.
Last year, a float featured antisemitic characterizations of hook-nosed Jews sitting on bags of money. It sparked outrage across the globe
Storm Ellen didn’t cancel parade
Those who hoped the event would be canceled due to Storm Ellen’s high winds and rain were disappointed. Carnival events in cities across Belgium were canceled due to bad weather, but Aalst pressed on.
The popular, three-day carnival is renowned for its comical and satirical parade floats. But while Mayor Christoph D’Haese thinks it’s just good fun, others vehemently disagree.
Last year’s antisemitic characterizations drove cries of antisemitism. In fact, the parade was even removed from the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. They claimed the floats were inconsistent with value of “respect and dignity.”
This year, the antisemitic characterizations continued with some parade-goers dressed as Hasidic ants.
Cries to cancel the parade
Israel Katz, Israel’s foreign minister requested that the hateful parade be condemned and banned. He tweeted that “Belgium as a western democracy should be ashamed to allow such a vitriolic antisemitic display.”
Groups around the world echoed the concern. But Aalst’s mayor believes the city has a right to satire and mockery, and some locals agree with him.
“What we are asking for is absolutely not the prohibition of carnival as such,” Nahshon said, according to The Guardian. “What we are asking for is the prohibition of all these antisemitic cartoons, which become beyond good taste, which have nothing to do with a sense of humor and which do not honor an exemplary democracy such as Belgium.”
The EU Office of @AJCGlobal is calling for an EU investigation into the “Belgian Hate Fest.”