Monday, 27 Jan 2020 - 1 of Shevat, 5780

Israel’s FM welcomes UNESCO’s decision to delist Belgian carnival over antisemitic float

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“In the 21st century, during a time when anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head, there cannot be any tolerance for this ugly phenomenon,” said Israel Katz.

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz has welcomed UNESCO’s “moral and principled decision” to remove an annual carnival in the Belgian city of Aalst from the organization’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity over repeated charges of anti-Semitism.

“In the 21st century, during a time when anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head, there cannot be any tolerance for this ugly phenomenon,” he said.

“We expect the Belgian government to come out clearly and concisely against the inclusion of anti-Semitic displays in the carnival. The scourge of anti-Semitism threatens not only the Jewish people, but every society and country in which it exists. The world must come together in the fight against it,” he added.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage said during a meeting in Bogotá, Columbia, last Friday that it would remove the Aalst carnival “over recurring repetition of racist and anti-Semitic representations.”

In March, the carnival included a float that featured caricatures of large-nosed religious Jews standing next to bags of money, with one carrying a rat on its shoulder.

The float was widely condemned by major European Jewish groups, Belgium’s Jewish community and the European Commission.

Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement: “The unabashed and reprehensible Jew-hatred that has been displayed at this carnival, including shocking representations of age-old anti-Semitic tropes, is particularly odious in a climate of rising anti-Semitism worldwide. Such an egregious exhibition of hate cannot possibly be considered ‘cultural heritage,’ and we appreciate UNESCO’s recognition of this fact.”

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