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.”
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.