Anti-Semitic figures at Aalst carnival
Anti-Semitic figures at Aalst carnival REUTERS/Yves Herman

The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) released a statement following the decision to allow the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, to go ahead despite anti-Semitic caricatures.

According to the Deutsche Welle, this year's parade included participants dressed in costumes of caricaturistic Jewish stereotypes, with some wearing hooked noses, insect costumes, and exaggerated outfits meant to depict Orthodox Jews.

In the statement, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who serves as CER's president, said: “The satirical procession with anti-Semitic tropes in Aalst, Belgium, are extremely offensive and abuse the power of free speech which is such an essential ingredient in any liberal democracy.”

“What is worse is that this type of anti-Semitism is a reminder of some of the darker moments of Europe’s past: We have not seen Jews labelled with a yellow Star of David since the 1930s. We cannot pretend that these images are some kind of joke or do not cause fear. It is simply not acceptable for world leaders such as the King of Belgium to declare ‘never again’ one week and then sit idly by when these symbols appear on their streets just weeks later.

“After last year's international protests against anti-Semitic motives in the Aaalster street carnival, which was removed by UNESCO from the list of Intangible World Heritage Sites, the organizers should have realized that precisely such anti-Semitic motives contribute to the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.”