“As a rejection of remorse for previous antisemitic expressions, the carnival’s organizers released ribbons further portraying Jewish stereotypes.”
“We urge UNESCO’s first Jewish Director-General to cleanse this hatefest by calling to remove Aalst from the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.”
Paris, 24 October 2019
In a letter to Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, recalled his denunciation, in 2013, of the Aalst Carnival float “for antisemitic stereotypes in portraying actors as SS and their victims in the blue and white striped garb of concentration camp inmates,” adding, “the 2019 float was even worse in displaying Jews in Orthodox dress grasping gold coins and carrying rats, redolent of the scenes of Nazi propaganda films and publications.”
The letter continued, “Our Centre, together with other anti-racist organizations, protested the vicious nature of the float and called for the Carnival to be stripped of its UNESCO Intangible Heritage status. The Bureau for Intangible Cultural Heritage met at UNESCO headquarters to discuss this travesty and several member-States ruled that the issue be put on the Agenda of the next Committee meeting in Colombia in December.”
We understand that representatives of the Carnival and of the Aalst municipality came to Paris to argue the validity of their float, stating that “it would always offend someone.”… “Meanwhile the government of Belgium has postponed a promised position paper on a matter that raises the shadow of Belgian WW2 collaboration in the deportation of its Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz and other extermination camps,” argued Samuels.
The Wiesenthal Centre expressed shock that, “this week, the Aalst Carnival organizers demonstrated their lack of remorse by releasing preview images for the 2020 edition, on ‘UNESCO and the Jews,’ under the slogan ‘UNESCO, what a Farce’.”
Apparently, 150 different carnival ribbons are being distributed on this theme, most portraying Jewish stereotypes – scullcaps, ringlet side curls, hooked noses and even gold teeth, all standing on an imitation of the UNESCO logo.
Samuels stressed that, “redolent of the Nazi journal ‘Der Stürmer’ caricatures, most horrific is the ‘zahngold’ (gold teeth taken from the mouths of Jewish corpses between the gas chambers and the crematoria).”
“Madam Director-General, this dark campaign is aimed at UNESCO in implying Jewish control – a classic conspiracy theory. As the first Jewish Director-General and the organization’s commitment to fight antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, we urge you to respond publicly and most vigorously,” the Centre argued.
“We call on your Secretariat to endorse our campaign to cleanse the Intangible Cultural Heritage and UNESCO from a recidivist incitement, by encouraging member-States to delist Aalst at the Bogotà Committee meeting,” … “Intangible Cultural Heritage status must not serve as camouflage for hate”, concluded Samuels.