News Releases 2019

Paris and London, 17 March 2019

UNESCO has been urged to remove Aalst from its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC), following repeated antisemitic displays.

UKLFI is a voluntary association of lawyers combatting anti-Israel and antisemitic activity. The SWC is a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context and is accredited by UNESCO as an Associate Partner NGO. 

The Bureau of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage is meeting on 21 March 2019. UKLFI and SWC have written to its six members, formally requesting them to make the appropriate preparations so that the Committee can take a decision to remove the Aalst Carnival at its plenary meeting in December.

“Wiesenthal Centre turns to Italian National Partisans Association (ANPI) to investigate baker and parents, who offend the anti-Nazi Bologna resistance and the victims of the Holocaust.”

Paris, 14 March 2019

In a letter to ANPI (Italian National Partisans Association) President, Carla Nespolo, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels expressed horror at a schoolboy's 15th birthday party in Bologna, reportedly celebrated with two cakes bearing pictures of Adolf Hitler... one stating: "Pronto cara? Accendi il forno che sto arrivando!" (“Hello darling? Turn up the oven, I am coming home!”)... and the second stating: "Evvai... che oggi sarà una serata... a tutto gas!!!" (“Let's go... Today, we’ll have an all gas [full throttle] evening!!!”

14 March 2019

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Samuels continued, “apparently, the host parents and the baker claimed their act was meant to be a 'prank' without any intention to offend”...

Three schoolmates were reported as having refused to taste the cakes and reported the scene to their teacher.

The Centre emphasized that, “even more sickening, was the date of this travesty: 27 January - International Holocaust Commemoration Day.”

“We turn to ANPI to investigate and seek appropriate measures against the parents and the pastry cook, who indeed offended the anti-Nazi resistance and the victims of the Holocaust,”... Moreover, "ANPI is well placed to engage in an educational initiative for schools, to sensitize parents through their children to the dangers of Holocaust abuse"... "the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - Europe stands ready to assist in this campaign," concluded Samuels.

Paris, 5 March 2019

In a letter to Belgian Security and Interior Minister, Pieter De Crem, Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed: “We are sickened at the 3 March Lent Carnival Parade float in Aalst.”

The letter noted “the hateful stereotyping of Jews sitting on moneybags with pronounced antisemitic hook-nosed features as reminescent of Nazi-collaborator Belgium,” adding, “Smoking a cigar, with his hand outstretched as a beggar, we are apparently viewing the 'manipulators' of “rising prices.” ..."So claim the float creators, Vismooil’n, inexplicably naming their portrayal: “Shabbat Year.”

5 March 2019

Samuels recalled that, “this is not the first such travesty in the Aalst Carnival. Six years ago, a railway car float featured Flemish politicians carrying Zyklon B gas canisters used to mass murder Jews and other victims of the Nazis. Measures, then untaken, encouraged Aalst to permit recidivist hatemongering.”

The Centre continued: “Our members expect nothing less than your government’s public condemnation and your Ministry to take measures to penalize the authors of this outrage.”... emphasizing  how "one might argue that it may be time for a centuries-old Jewish community not far from Aalst - the seat of the diamond industry in Antwerp - to consider a move with, probable consequences far greater than “rising prices” and a so-called “Shabbat Year.”

“Mr. Minister, the Aalst Carnaval float brings not only indignation to world Jewry and their Gentile friends. It portends a threat and alert for both your government portfolios: Interior and Security. Above all, it sullies the good name of Belgium as host of the European Institutions”, concluded Samuels.

Tel Aviv, Israel, 1 March 2019

Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, and European Project Manager, Alex Uberti, attended the 2019 Muni-Expo gathering in Tel Aviv. Some 200 Israeli and 150 plus international Mayors were treated to a cutting-edge display of equipment for municipal services and anti-terrorism security.

Last year, the Centre brought two Israeli mayors to join ECCAR’s over 150 member-cities: the Lower Galilee Regional Council and the Bedouin town of Shibli Umm Ghanem.

This year, meetings were held with Israeli cities twinned with counterparts in Europe, such as Ramat Gan and Strasbourg (also seat of the Council of Europe and of the European Parliament), Netanya and Dortmund or Kiryat Shmona and Nancy.

1st March 2019 1
Dr. Shimon Samuels (centre) with Carmel Shama HaCohen, Mayor of Ramat Gan
and Former Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO (left), and Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg
and President of French United Local Governments (right).

"A campaign against possible chemical contaminants in vaccinations cannot be associated or compared with mass murder and the Holocaust."

Paris, 22 February 2019

In a letter to Italian Minister of the Interior and vice-Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels expressed "outrage at an anti-vaccination campaign by an unknown group 'Siamo' (We Are), allegedly associated with 'Corvelva' (Veneto Regional Coordination for Liberty of Vaccination)."

The letter described "Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Banalization and Holocaust Abuse, considered open to criminal prosecution in several European jurisdictions."