Aalst Carnival makes fun of Jews again, despite anti-Semitism accusations over previous edition
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    Aalst Carnival makes fun of Jews again, despite anti-Semitism accusations over previous edition

    Carnival group 'De Vismooil'n' was accused of anti-Semitism in 2019. Credit: Belga

    Participants in the Carnival of Aalst have released carnival ribbons making fun of UNESCO and Jews for the 2020 edition of the Carnival, after they were condemned for anti-Semitism in 2019.

    The mayor of Aalst, Christoph D’Haese, and Alderman Jean-Jacques De Gucht were summoned to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September 2019, where they had to argue that their previous carnival procession was not anti-Semitic after a carnival group was accused of anti-Semitism for their ‘Sabbatjoor’ (“Sabbath year”) float by Jewish people in Belgium and abroad.

    In December 2019, UNESCO will decide whether or not the Carnival of Aalst will remain on the World Heritage list.

    The Carnival ribbons for the 2020 edition might cause a new problem. “We have released a series of 150 unique carnival ribbons that we distribute among collectors in Aalst. There are six different figures and 150 different slogans,” said Kris Vonck, the designer of the ribbons, to Het Laatste Nieuws. “There are no nasty things on them. They are not about gassing or concentration camps. We are not really making fun of Jews directly. We are mainly focussing on UNESCO, not Jews,” he added.

    The ribbons proclaim to make fun of everyone equally. Credit: Kris Vonck

    Most of the slogans say things like “UNESCO, what a joke” and “We make fun of everyone equally”. The figures on the ribbons are all Jews, but there is one Muslim saying “They have made fun of us, too”.

    The Jews are depicted in a stereotypical fashion with a hat, ringlets, a hooked nose and golden teeth. “The sneer is aimed at UNESCO, but it is pretty difficult to find a funny image of that. So we chose Jews,” added Vonck.

    The Forum of Jewish Organisations (FJO) sees the ribbons as “a pure provocation,” reports VTM NIEUWS.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times