The State of Israel quickly welcomed the decision of UNESCO to delist the Belgian Aalst Carnival from its world heritage list in response to its annual anti-Semitic displays.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement, “I welcome the right and moral decision to remove the carnival from the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
“In the 21st century, as anti-Semitism attempts to rear its ugly head, there is no place for tolerance on the phenomenon,” he said. “We expect the Belgian government to voice a clear and decisive position against the inclusion of anti-Semitic displays at the carnival.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder also thanked UNESCO and its director-general, Audrey Azoulay, along with the committee members for taking a “principled stance against antisemitism” in their action to ensure the removal of the Aalst Carnival from the Cultural Heritage List.
“This list is meant to preserve traditions for future generations, but parading larger than life puppets of hooked-nose Jews through the streets of European cities is one we should soon forget,” Lauder said.
“There is no place for this sort of hateful symbolism in the 21st Century, whether, a puppet, a costume, or a ribbon. Although the carnival will still proceed, despite the delisting, I call on the organizers to distance themselves from this hateful imagery, if only for the sake of ensuring that their children will grow up in a more tolerant world.
“The use of antisemitic imagery, whether knowingly or not, has long been deeply engrained in many cultures. We all must work together to ensure that this type of behavior is nothing more than a distant memory and a footnote in history books.”