‘Game of Thrones’ Star Cancels Belgian TV Appearance Over ‘Anti-Semitic’ Parade Float

December 6, 2019
Dutch actor Carice van Houten has canceled an upcoming television appearance in Belgium after the country’s city of Aalst featured a parade float that UNESCO has branded “racist and anti-Semitic.”
While the Aalst Carnival was celebrated back in March, the event continues to have a present-day impact on Belgian relations after the city’s mayor, Christoph D’Haese, renounced the event’s UNESCO “World Intangible Cultural Heritage” title on Sunday.
“We have had it a bit with the grotesque complaints and Aalst will renounce its UNESCO recognition,” D’Haese announced before doubling down on the float’s legitimacy within the parade’s context. “We are neither anti-Semitic nor racist. All those who support this are acting in bad faith. Aalst will always remain the capital of mockery and satire.”
As a response to the decision, van Houten – popularly known for her portrayal of Melisandre in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” – joined colleague Halina Reijn, an actor and writer, in solidarity after she nixed her scheduled appearance on the Belgian talk show “The Appointment.”
“The Appointment” presenter Phara de Aguirre revealed that Reijn – who is married to a Jewish soccer player – labeled D’Haese “an anti-Semite” and refused to appear on the show due to its decision to also host the Aalst mayor, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Tuesday.
“No Halina Reijn and Carice Van Houten as advertised,” de Aguirre wrote in a since-deleted tweet on Monday, according to the JTA. “Reijn is married to a Jewish man and doesn’t want to share a table with Aalst’s mayor.”
The notorious float made its appearance during the Aalst Carnival on March 3 and immediately drew ire from the global Jewish community for its caricatured representation of Orthodox Jews with rats on their shoulders surrounded by gold coins and money bags.
The carnival also featured individuals in Ku Klux Klan garb and others donning blackface.
Weeks after the float’s appearance, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay labeled the display “racist and anti-Semitic,” adding that the agency would remain “vigilant and uncompromising regarding such occurrences” at the carnival, which was added to the list in 2010. The motion was then tabled until UNESCO’s December committee meeting in Bogotá, Colombia.
However, a draft resolution concerning the festival’s removal became public knowledge last month.
“These acts, whether or not intentional, contradict the requirements of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals,” the committee document read.
Despite whispers about the fate of the Aalst Carnival’s standing with UNESCO, European Jewish Association President Rabbi Menachem Margolin said D’Haese and other town officials were “jumping before they were pushed” in their decision to withdraw from the list, according to a statement obtained by the JTA.
The article was published on Sputnik

Additional Articles

Lighting Chanukah candles with the Estonian PM

Rabbi Menachem Margolin:

“The story of Chanukah teaches us that the Jewish people did not win the battle because they were the stronger, but because G-d saw that they were fighting for their beliefs with all their heart.

G-d created the world and everything in it. He also created the different conflicts in it.

Therefore what we should take from this fact is that if conflict or challenges are given to us in order to test us or to strengthen our resolve.

We are therefore wiser if we recognise that we should not run away from challemges but fight them and win, and in doing so we can look for more and more miracles like the one that happened at this time of Chanukah.

Dear Prime Minister, in our days, where we are experiencing a lot of racism, anti-Semitism and hatred we should not be frightened by these challenges either. Because if we will all fight it constantly, eventually our way will win.

Chag Shameach”

‘Holocaust was a scam’ projected on Swedish synagogue during international antisemitism conference

(JTA) — Swedish police are investigating how the words “the Holocaust was a scam” were projected onto the main synagogue in Malmö while that city was holding an international forum on combating antisemitism.
The projection was seen on the Synagogue of Malmö and on other buildings in cities across southern Sweden on Wednesday night, the day of the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
Police are handling the case as a hate crime, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.
The Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, claimed responsibility for the incident, according to Dagens Nyheter.
The conference had brought together heads of state and other prominent government officials from dozens of countries in a city known for its high rates of antisemitism.
Israel’s strikes in Gaza in 2009 triggered a wave of antisemitic assaults in Malmö, which had then over 1,000 Jews. Then mayor Ilmar Reepalu reacted by instructing the local Jewish community to distance itself from Israel, giving many the impression that he was blaming the victims.
The Jewish community in Sweden’s third-largest city has since dwindled down to around 500.
Despite Wednesday’s synagogue incident, Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Friday that she thinks the conference shows that “change is possible.”
“The fact that the conference happened in Malmö sends a message, that this sort of thing will not be accepted and will be confronted,” von Schnurbein said.
At the conference, she presented a new strategic plan for combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in Europe, published by the European Commission on Oct. 5.
Although the plan does not include a stated budget, von Schurbein said, “it will tap into programs in various departments” and its “components will receive millions of euros in funding in the coming period.”
Among the goals of the plan is to set up a cross-European methodology for documenting and reporting antisemitic hate crimes.
On Tuesday, Jewish community leaders at a separate conference in Brussels complained that the EU plan was “not serious” because it does not address two issues that have alienated local Jews for years: bans on the ritual slaughter of animals and attempts to ban non-medical circumcision.
Von Schurbein said the plan does reference the ritual slaughter issue. Members states need to find “a fair balance between respect for the freedom to manifest religion and the protection of animal welfare,” the document states.
The EU Commission and her office intend to facilitate efforts to strike the balance, von Schnurbein said, and call on “EU countries to ensure through policy and legal measures that Jews can live their lives in accordance with their religious traditions,” she added.
“But when it comes to the document, the Commission is bound by the ruling of the European Court,” which in 2020 upheld the rights of states in Belgium to ban ritual slaughter.

‘Holocaust was a scam’ projected on Swedish synagogue during international antisemitism conference

European Parliament in Strasbourg debates President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital , Leading Rabbi asks Parliament leadership to act as 'voices of Reason'

The European Parliament is set to discuss Tuesday in Strasbourg US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The debate in the plenary session of the parliament will focus on the status granted to the city by Presdient Trump who set out last Wednesday his intention to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that was subsequently backed up by two EU member states, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
STRASBOURG —The European Parliament is set to discuss Tuesday in Strasbourg US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The debate in the plenary session of the parliament will focus on the status granted to the city by Presdient Trump who set out last Wednesday his intention to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that was subsequently backed up by two EU member states, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
The decision has prompted a backlash and led to violence on the Palestinian side.
Some officials in Europe have asserted that the American decision will ignite tensions in the region.
Ahead of the Strasbourg debate, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder and Director of the Brussels based European Jewish Association which represents Jews across the continent, wrote a letter to the European Parliament President, Vice-Presidents and heads of political groups asking them to act as “voices of Reason” during the debate. 
In his letter Rabbi Margolin said, ‘Some have asserted that this decision will ignite tensions in the region. It should be noted that some Member States unilaterally recognised the State of Palestine even before the respective parties reached understandings.’’
He continued, ‘The European Parliament has a delegation for relations with Palestine which was put in place before official state recognition and before the parties again reached understandings. There are Palestinian embassies all over the world, before the parties reached understandings.‘President Trump did not say that united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He said the borders will be discussed during the negotiations between the sides.’
For Rabbi Margolin,  the furore over the US move is ‘’unwarranted, unjustified and is one-sided to say the least.’’
‘’Furthermore such voices reward the incitement to violence and violence that is being perpetuated on the Palestinian side. Such a reward would be incompatible and would not be expected from the House that you represent,’’ reads the letter to the MEPs.
“I earnestly hope that voices of reason will prevail during the debate, and you will use the opportunity to remind the house of the facts outlined in my letter,”  Rabbi Margolin concluded.   

COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Surcharge affairs
This diary, setup by the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Holland, was designed to get an impression of my life during the corona pandemic.
Every now and then I almost forget that there is corona, but around New Year’s Eve I was pressed hard on the fact. Overcrowded hospitals and the threat of doctors having to judge life and death. Who do we treat and who do we leave to their own devices?
In the meantime, I watched a New Year’s Eve show for the first time in my life because I was curious and because I also performed in it: “ Old and New of Christians for Israel. ” And although I had a little intention to look at the New Year’s Eve conference by Joep van het Hek, I didn’t do that after all.
Reason: 1: waste of time. 2: Although I am very good at jokes and can be ridiculed with anything and everything, I find swearing unacceptable. Just a short explanation on point 1: From Jewish thinking it is wrong to waste time. Relaxing is fine. I walk every day because it is good for body and mind. But really doing nothing at all or doing something that is completely meaningless, that is not the case. Why then do I read newspapers and listen to the news obediently, you ask. Because, let’s be honest, whether or not I am aware of the number of daily corona infections is not much use. On the contrary! It makes me quite depressed and so do many others. Even all those crazy conspiracy theories about the vaccine are not among my beloved reading.
On the other hand I need news information to know how to act when or to continue to be able to write my diary and / or give a Jewish view on current affairs.
But following the news every second is totally unnecessary. The meaningful use of time is an important Jewish commandment.
About 2, the swearing. I am on the Committee of Recommendation of the League Against Curses. I was approached for that at the time and said yes. I sit on many Committees of Recommendation (so I recommend a lot!), But I am never in any place to be in it, but only use my name if I endorse the purpose of the Foundation. And I find swearing unacceptable because it hurts. So: freedom of expression with a limit, so I obediently sit on the Committee of Recommendation of the heavily Christian League against Cursing.
Friday evening and Shabbat went like weekly, except I was worried about our Friday evening ‘regular guest’ who was clearly much more tired than usual, did not walk well and indicated that on New Years Eve he had eaten eleven donuts on his own, while he had a lot be careful with sugar.
Immediately after Shabbat I called him to ask how he had fared, but thank G-d he is doing well. My grandson from England, who is still trapped here between England and Israel, where he studies, actually knows very little about his Dutch ancestors. So I shared what I know and came to the conclusion that I myself know nothing at all about the 80% of my family who “did not return”. They were not talked about at home! While explaining the horrors the war has caused here, I decided to let him watch “The Menten Case” with English subtitles. In the meantime, I have also watched (along) for the umpteenth time. Apart from the war criminal and the war crimes that are shown and that should not be forgotten, I continue to be annoyed by the corruption surrounding Menten. Government officials who allow themselves to be bribed, are threatened with lawsuits, Hans Knoop who is fired, his photographer who must have made huge money from him and who eventually can also be bribed. I am thinking of the Supplement affair. How could this have happened in our country! And issues like this still happen, on a daily basis.
Corona is a plague, but so are the Supplement affairs. I deliberately write affairs in the plural. Because the surcharges affair has surfaced (thanks to the media!), But what else is going on in affairs that were and / or are invisible? I know a few more!

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