Last year, the annual carnival in the Belgian town of Aalst received criticism because it regularly includes life-sized caricatures based on the crudest of anti-Semitic stereotypes. The town’s mayor defended the carnival as a cherished local tradition in a purely lighthearted vein, insisting that the participants had no animus to Jews whatsoever. To preserve the parade, he even sacrificed Aalst’s status as a UNESCO “world-heritage site.” Last Sunday, the people of Aalst responded to their critics by expanding their repertoire of anti-Semitic images and costumes. Meanwhile, note the editors of the Jerusalem Post, Belgium is happy to stay on its high horse when it has an opportunity to condemn Israel:
[S]ome revelers were dressed as insects with fur-lined shtraymels [traditional ḥasidic hats], fake peyot [sidelocks], and slogans suggesting that [Jews] are parasites. . . . Some paradegoers wore lampshades patterned like tallitot (prayer shawls) on their heads. [Other] revelers were dressed in Nazi uniforms. One participant held a sign with the “rules of the carnival,” including “no Jews,” “no joking with Jews,” “certainly not speaking the truth about the Jew,” and “your drugs and black money will be for us.” In other words, this was an absolutely deliberate anti-Semitic [display].
Belgium is home to the European Union’s [capital]. It is also currently a member of the United Nations Security Council, which it heads throughout the month of February. Tension between Israel and the EU has increased recently.
Earlier this month, Jerusalem reprimanded the Belgian deputy envoy after [his country] invited a senior adviser for an organization with ties to the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to brief the UN Security Council. Belgium then called in [the Israeli ambassador] to protest the reprimand. It did, however, later revoke the invitation.
Belgium professes to be concerned about the welfare of children worldwide—but [apparently not] Israeli children? Only yesterday, thousands were forced to stay home from school after the heavy rocket onslaught from Gaza on the south of Israel. Israeli children were running for shelters as Aalst was celebrating its carnival.