UPDATE: For more defense of the float, and a wave of antisemitic comments defending it, see here.
Nobody can argue that the float shown below (and past actions of participants in this parade) are simply disagreeing with the policies of Israel. No, this is undiluted and classic anti-Semitism—though the perpetrators, in the fashion of Ilhan Omar, deny it. And it took place recently in Belgium, for crying out loud, a country where I’m supposed to be lecturing in a month—a country that’s supposed to be sensible, liberal and (so I thought) not infected with anti-Semitism.
Worse, the Carnival at Aalst parade, as always, is sponsored and promoted by the United Nations. And as far as I can determine, it’s funded by the UN through UNESCO, though I’d be glad to hear otherwise. Its UNESCO sponsorship, though, is not in doubt.
What happened is that this year the parade harbored about as anti-Semitic a float as you can construct, a float depicting hook-nosed Orthodox Jews with rats on their shoulders, gloating over bags of money and gold coins. And this kind of trope, which could have appeared in Der Stürmer 80 years ago, isn’t the first one to appear in this parade (see below).
There are three articles about the incident lest you’re the kind of person who questions the credibility of the first one because it’s from a Jewish source.
Here’s the same report from the Brussels Times:
What about the BBC? Here:
Here’s a video (another one is here):
But no, it’s not anti-Semitic, not at all! Here’s the perfectly innocuous explanation:
Belgian media report that the group behind the controversial float, De Vismooil’n, went to the police after it received death threats over the float.
The group were economising on a so-called “sabbatical year” – saving money on their float in this year’s parade to invest more heavily in the following year, members told Belgian news outlet HLN.
“We came up with the idea to put Jews on our float. Not to make the faith ridiculous – carnival is simply a festival of caricature,” they said.
“We found it comical to have pink Jews in the procession with a safe to keep the money we saved. You can have a laugh with other religions too,” they told HLN.
The newspaper also quoted the town’s mayor, Christoph D’Haese, as saying the group “had no offensive intentions”.
Really comical, those pink Jews with their rats and money! How comical would it be in the U.S. to have a float with blacks with big lips, eating watermelon and fried chicken? Answer: NOT COMICAL! And to have the town’s mayor defending this travesty is beyond belief.
More excuses reported by WIN:
“In [our city], it should be allowed,” declared Christoph D’Haese, the mayor of Aalst, a Belgian city thrust into the spotlight after a recent parade included bulbous-nosed Jewish puppets standing on money bags, marchers dressed in Klu Klux Klan costumes, and young Europeans donning blackface makeup.
JTA reported that a carnival spokesperson claimed the float represented commentary on how “everything has become so expensive.”
What a clever way to comment on inflation!
Now the Carnival at AAlst has been declared by UNESCO, a branch of the UN, as an “Intangible cultural heritage”. One Israeli news source says it’s even “funded by UNESCO”, but I’ll seek further confirmation. The UN has historically treated Israel much worse than any other country, passing resolution after resolution against it while ignoring countries, like North Korea, who are far worse in repressing their people and committing war crimes. I wouldn’t want to think that the UN is turning a blind eye to this kind of bigoted nonsense.
The sad thing is that this isn’t first time that the parade has featured horrific anti-Semitic floats. As the Wikipedia article notes, there was a previous incident, and although UNESCO protested, it didn’t stop a recurrence.
In recent years, the parade has been marked by several floats and puppets with stereotypically antisemitic and racist imagery. In 2013, a group had members who dressed up in SS-uniforms and paraded around with cans marked Zyklon B, which led to a furious protest by UNESCO. In 2019, one float featured two huge puppets resembling orthodox Jews, one with a rat on his shoulder, sitting on bags of money and gold coins.
From another source:
Past entrants in the parade have included a float modeled after a Nazi train car used to deliver Jews to death camps, which was surrounded by members of the float’s sponsor dressed as both Nazi SS officers and ultra-Orthodox Jews, according to JTA. Other imagery on the float included canisters labeled “Zyklon B,” the gas Nazis used to murder Jews during the Holocaust.
When will this stop? When politicians, supported by the Western Left, take a serious stand against anti-Semitism—as serious a stand as they take against “Islamophobic” bigotry against Muslims. In the meantime, European countries like England and France become more and more anti-Semitic, to the extent that Jews are starting to flee from them. Are Belgian Jews about to join this exodus? My friends in Belgium, old and soon to be made, please protest this bigotry.