Ahead of a Belgian parade with a history of openly anti-Semitic displays, organizers published a slew of anti-Semitic caricatures to promote the “carnival” this year.

By United With Israel Staff

Following a 2019 parade in the Belgian city of Aalst that included floats displaying bulbous-nosed Jewish puppets standing on money bags, marchers dressed in Klu Klux Klan costumes, and young Europeans donning blackface makeup, 2020’s version of the event was promoted with a series of virulently anti-Semitic images.

The parade, which was added by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, was condemned in March 2019 for its offensive float of giant Orthodox Jewish figures holding money bags and grinning ominously. One of the figures had a rat on his shoulder and revelers danced to a song about Jewish greed while atop the float.

The float, called “Shabbat Year,” included figures dressed in traditional Hasidic garb.

Organizers claimed that the display protested the rising cost of living in Belgium.

At the time, the display was widely condemned by the European Commission, which issued a statement noting, “It is unthinkable that such imagery is being paraded on European streets 70 years after the Holocaust.”

“The caricatures, like those of Der Stürmer, of Jews with a crooked nose and suitcases, are typical of the Nazism of 1939,” a spokesperson for Belgium’s Forum of Jewish Organizations said.

Christoph D’Haese, mayor of Aalst, argued that the float “should be allowed.”

“[I]t’s not up to [me] to forbid” such displays,” he added, arguing that the “the carnival participants had no sinister intentions,” reported Het Laatste Nieuws. On social media, the mayor praised the “wonderful” event.

The ribbons promoting the 2020 parade show, among other offensive designs, a red-headed Orthodox Jew with golden teeth, with the caption, “UNESCO, what a joke.”

UNESCO on Wednesday condemned Belgian authorities for tolerating the display.

The unnamed designer of the ribbons told Het Laatste Nieuws that the purpose of the images was to target UNESCO’s criticism of last year’s display. The designer claimed the images are “not against Jews.”

Spokesperson for the Forum on Jewish Organizations of Belgium’s Flemish Region Hans Knoop called the 2020 caricatures “pure provocation” and a “manifestation of anti-Semitism,”  according to JTA.

EU-Israel affairs adviser and Golden Gate public affairs Director Jenny Aharon wrote on Twitter about the offensive caricatures, “Shame on you…Pure #Antisemitism”

There are approximately 35,000 Jews living in Belgium. The country has experienced a rise in anti-Semitism as well as physical attacks on Jews, along with most of the Western European nations.

“Nothing is unique about the prevalence and nature of anti-Semitism in Belgium,” said Joel Rubinfeld, a former co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament and current president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, according to JTA. “What is unusual is that recently, we’ve had a string of incidents where officials, opinion shapers and artists are defending anti-Semitism. That is a quite worrisome development, which I think is only happening in Belgium on this level.”

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