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WHAT WE DO - Public Policy

Letter addressed to Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO by Allan J. Jacobs, President of B’nai B’rith International and Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice-President

Dear Madame Director-General,

On behalf of B’nai B’rith International – the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, advocacy and social action organization, with members in over 50 countries – we write to express our appreciation of your prompt denunciation of this week’s anti-Semitic representation at the Aalst Carnival, which is inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. By speaking out about this incident, you have signaled to the world that trivialization of the Holocaust cannot be tolerated by UNESCO, an agency created to foster tolerance and peace.

 We share your sense of shock and disgust at the insensitive display, which featured men drinking champagne while dressed up in SS uniforms, a Nazi railcar, and crude representations of victims—including stereotypical depictions of Haredi Orthodox Jews and an effigy of a gay victim hanging off the back of the railcar. The fact that such an incident of Holocaust minimization could take place in Belgium, a nation which lost nearly half of its Jewish population in the Holocaust, speaks to the vital importance of Holocaust education throughout the globe. The most effective way to prevent displays and incidents that minimize, trivialize, or deny the Holocaust is to make sure that there is a global awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust.

We thank you for your strong commitment to promote Holocaust education. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this important issue of mutual interest.


Allan J. Jacobs                                                            Daniel S. Mariaschin
President                                                                     Executive Vice President