"Belgium Officials are reportedly lobbying for a simple rebuke... We are calling for Aalst delisting from UNESCO's prestigious Intangible Cultural Heritage Status."
"As the first woman and Jewish Prime Minister of Belgium, we urge your support for delisting at UNESCO and to take punitive measures against apparent recidivist bigotry."
Paris, 29 October 2019
In a letter to newly appointed Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations Dr. Shimon Samuels, congratulated her appointment, bringing to her attention "the international outrage at the antisemitic floats at the Aalst Carnaval," describing the pernicious situation :
"- In 2013, actors playing SS with their victims in blue and white striped concentration camp garb with cannisters marked Zyklon B gas.
- In 2019, the float displayed Jews in Orthodox garb grasping gold coins and carrying rats, redolent of Nazi propaganda film and publications.
- Last week, the Aalst Carnaval organisers expressed their lack of remorse by releasing preview images for the 2020 edition, which will focus on 'UNESCO and the Jews', under the slogan, 'UNESCO, What a Farce'.
- Here is the array of carnival ribbons distributed as a foretaste for next year's float of Jewish stereotypes: skull caps, Hasidic hats and clothes, pronounced noses and even gold teeth - recalling 'zahngold' (gold teeth taken from the mouths of Jewish corpses between the gas chambers and the crematoria."
The letter explained that, "the campaign against UNESCO is due to the Intangible Cultural Heritage status of Aalst and its carnival, a status that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre considers undeserved, demised by this travesty."
"We are calling for Aalst to be delisted at the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Assembly in Bogotá Colombia in December."
The Centre advised the Prime Minister that "while most of the Bureau member-States have recommended delisting, we are aware that Belgium officials are, reportedly lobbying for a simple rebuke."
"As the first woman and Jewish Prime Minister of Belgium, we know of your commitment to fight antisemitism and Holocaust. We urge you to direct your Foreign Ministry to encourage the Intangible Cultural Heritage member-States to delist Aalst at the Bogotá assembly and to take appropriate punitive measures against apparent recidivist incitement at home," concluded Samuels.