Belgium: carnival marred by anti-Semitism again

Anti-Semitic stereotypes were once again on display at this year's carnival parade in Aalst, Belgium, despite fierce criticism. Unesco, which revoked the event's status as an intangible world heritage site in 2019 due to anti-Semitic traits, was also the butt of mockery. The press sees the stubbornness of the city's inhabitants as proof of deep-rooted anti-Semitism in society as a whole.

Open/close all quotes
Le Soir (BE) /

Don't take humour too far

The carnivalists are fuelling racist ideology, Le Soir complains:

“Like racism, anti-Semitism is fuelled by playing down harmful attitudes under the guise of humour. One can laugh at rabbis and mock the texts and practices of all religions. However, to ascribe these to 'racial' or 'anthropomorphic' flaws is intolerable. Depicting the 'hook noses' of Jews is in no way less reprehensible than the images propagated by the Nazis and their their Pétainist allies in the Vichy regime. Over the course of history, the Jews and their physical attributes became engraved in people's minds, depriving Jews of their human reality and normality. ... Laughter is important. And this privilege must be promoted. But using laughter to cover up all kinds of objectionable behaviour is something else entirely.”

Die Welt (DE) /

The dirty secret of all identitarians

The mayor of Aalst has said he sees no problem with the festival. The daily Die Welt is not surprised:

“D'Haese is from the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA). Their main goal is the secession of Flanders from Belgium, their programme could be described as right-wing nationalist-green: a clean environment, a pure Flanders. ... Where 'one's own' is defined by differentiation from 'otherness', whether this other is the Francophone Walloons in Flanders, the Europeans in Brexit-England or the Muslims everywhere in Europe, anti-Semitism is never far away. In the culture of the West, the Jews are inscribed as the others par excellence. One must be grateful to the merry Aalster anti-Semites: they have revealed the dirty secret of all identitarians.”