Puppets of Jews on display at the Aalst Carnival in Belgium
Puppets of Jews on display at the Aalst Carnival in BelgiumCourtesy of FJO

Organizers of the Carnival of Aalst are under fire again over carnival ribbons making fun of UNESCO and Jews for the 2020 edition of the Carnival, after they were already condemned for anti-Semitism in 2019.

European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said it was now clear that UNESCO - which is due to make a decision in December on whether to keep the carnival on the world heritage list – must remove any association or sponsorship of the carnival.

The Mayor of the city was already summoned to UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September 2019, where he had to argue that the previous carnival procession was not anti-Semitic after it depicted caricatures of haredi Jews with hooked noses standing on chests of money surrounded by rats.

The Carnival ribbons for the 2020 edition might cause a new problem, as they depict stereotypical anti-semitic caricatures of Jews. The ribbon makers say this is in the spirit of the carnival and that they make fun of everyone.

Rabbi Margolin said in a statement,

“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.

“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 the carnival seeks to portray us, as 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.

“I will be writing to UNESCO to demand it ceases to fund or associate in any way with this carnival from now on. The Carnival itself is now beyond the pale and we expect nothing from people who get their humor kicks from kicking Jews. This is supposed to be 2019, not 1939.”