Belgian parade mired in anti-Semitism prints Jewish caricatures for participants
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Belgian parade mired in anti-Semitism prints Jewish caricatures for participants

Some ribbons for 2020 event feature images of Orthodox Jews with hooked noses, gold teeth; designer says they target UNESCO’s criticism of previous display, are ‘not against Jews’

A caricature of an Orthodox Jew distributed by organizers ahead of the Aalst 2020 carnival. (Courtesy of FJO via JTA)
A caricature of an Orthodox Jew distributed by organizers ahead of the Aalst 2020 carnival. (Courtesy of FJO via JTA)

JTA — Organizers of a parade in Belgium that earlier this year provoked international uproar over an anti-Semitic float, have published 150 caricatures mocking Jews ahead of the 2020 event.

The caricatures, some featuring Orthodox Jews with red, hooked noses and golden teeth, were printed on ribbons intended for participants in the annual event, which was added in 2010 to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

The condemnations in March over this year’s parade came from Jewish groups as well as UNESCO for featuring a float with giant Orthodox Jewish figures holding money and grinning. One of them had a rat on his shoulder. Revelers danced to a song about money composed by the organizers, who said the float was a protest of rising living costs.

The designer of the 2020 caricatures told Het Laatste Nieuws daily that they target UNESCO’s criticism of last year’s display and are “not against Jews.” He was not named.

Illustrative: A parade float at the Aalst Carnaval in Belgium featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews atop money bags, March 3, 2019. (Courtesy of FJO, via JTA)

One caricature shows a red-headed Orthodox Jew with golden teeth and is captioned: “UNESCO, what a joke.”

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

Aalst Mayor Christoph D’Haese and organizers dismissed criticism over March’s display, saying it reflected the spirit of irreverence at the event.

UNESCO is currently deliberating over whether to remove the event from its list over the float.

In 2013, a group designed for the Aalst carnival a float resembling a Nazi railway wagon used to transport Jews to death camps.

The people who designed the float, known as the FTP Group, marched near the float dressed as Nazi SS officers and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

A poster on the wagon showed Flemish Belgian politicians dressed as Nazis and holding canisters labeled as containing Zyklon B, the poison used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews in gas chambers in the Holocaust. UNESCO condemned that display.

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