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(Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 2019)—The annual Aalst carnival parade in Belgium, which has a history of anti-Semitic displays, has once again plunged into anti-Semitism. Organizers of the parade are planning to give out ribbons to all participants featuring gross caricatures of Orthodox Jews with hooked red noses and gold teeth.
We are disgusted that the parade continues to be on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; in March of this year, a delegation of B’nai B’rith leaders led by B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin raised the issue of anti-Semitism in the parade with the director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay. UNESCO is expected to decide in December whether to keep the parade on the list. We urge UNESCO in the strongest terms to remove the Aalst Carnival from the list. Furthermore, the city of Aalst must unequivocally apologize for the ribbons and its history of endorsing anti-Semitism.
This is by no means the first time the parade has trafficked in blatant anti-Semitism. In March, we condemned the parade for a float entitled “Shabbat Year” that depicted Orthodox Jews amidst bags of money. According to the float’s creators, it was meant to protest “rising prices.” Six years ago, the same carnival event featured a caricature of the Holocaust, with Nazi rail cars. Every time the parade has featured anti-Semitism, there is a loud and vociferous criticism from Jewish groups; every time, the town ignores Jewish voices.
Such blatant and unrepentant anti-Semitism should not be rewarded with the endorsement of UNESCO.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit