BRUSSELS—‘’It should be self-evident that to see such images in the streets of Europe 74 years after the Shoah is unthinkable,’’ declared the spokesperson of the European Commission in a reaction to the display of giant antisemitic puppets during the Carnival parade Monday in the Belgian city of Aalst, 20 km west of Brussels.
The display, titled “Shabbat Year,” featured two giant puppets wearing the fur hats favored by some haredi Orthodox Jews and pink suits. They both have sidelocks. One of the puppets is grinning while smoking a cigar and extending a hand, presumably to collect money. That puppet has a white rat on his right shoulder. Both puppets are standing on gold coins and have money bags at their feet.
Asked by European Jewish Press for a reaction on the incident, during the daily briefing, European Commission spokesperson, Margaritas Schinas, said that ‘’it is always for national authorities to take action on such individual cases on the basis of the applicable law.’’
Jewish community groups have expresse danger at the display ‘’given the rising context of anti-Semitism in our country.’’
‘’The European Commission position has, is and will always be very clear : we stand firmly stand against all forms of antisemitism,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘’Eu member states only recently reaffirmed their commitment in a specific EU Council declaration (on the fight of antisemitism),’’ he added. He also reminded the statement made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January : ‘’We will not tolerate any form of Antisemitism from everyday hate speech, offline and online, to physical attacks. The European Commission is working hand-in-hand with all Member States to combat this menace and guarantee the security of Jewish communities in Europe.’’
As a journalist from Cyprus noted that some members states don’t do what they need to do against antisemitism, giving as example the fact that antisemitic literature is being sold on tv programs in Greece, the spokesperson added : ‘There is no place for antisemitic violence, threats, hate speech in the Europe we want to live today and tomorrow. I dont need to repeat the many practical steps we took also symbolically with President Juncker visiting in Vienna the synagogue with EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Vera Jourova, highlighting our values. We Europeans do not have the luxury of taking this lightly and certainly the European Commission will never do it. Because we have the sad privilege of having experienced how this end in the last century, we dont want this to be repeated.’’