Israel condemns Spanish carnival troupe for so-called “tribute” to the victims of the Holocaust

The participants in the parade, which took place in Campo de Criptana in Ciudad Real, were dressed as Nazis and concentration camp prisoners

The carnival troupe dressed as Nazis.
The carnival troupe dressed as Nazis.Rey Sotolongo

The Israeli embassy in Spain has voiced its rejection and repulsion after a troupe at carnival celebrations in the town of Campo de Criptana, in Ciudad Real, dressed up as Nazis and concentration camp prisoners in a so-called “tribute” to the victims of the Holocaust.

The troupe, from the El Chaparral Cultural Association in Las Mesas, Cuenca, claimed it was aiming to commemorate “one of the most disgraceful events in the history of humanity.” But according to the Israeli embassy, which voiced its protest via Twitter, they were “making fun of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.”

The message, which was released by the spokesperson from the diplomatic mission in Spain, Yoav Katz, also called on European countries to actively combat anti-Semitism. The embassy added that it was in contact with the local council in a bid to get more information about what happened.

In January, the association announced that it was going to stage a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, stating that: “Not commemorating it will not mean it never happened. We are presenting this issue as a mere historical fact, without making any political allusions, or offending or hurting anyone.”

The local council in Campo de Criptana released a statement saying that it agrees with the criticism of the troupe. “If the initial aim was to commemorate the victims, it is obvious that this was not achieved,” the text reads, adding that it does not have “the prior capacity to control or supervise the staging of all of the troupes taking part in the carnival procession.

The controversy broke just a few days after a group dressed as Nazis appeared at carnival celebrations in the Belgian city of Aalst. Sources consulted for this story say that they fear that there is a new trend of making fun of the Holocaust at carnival celebrations. The incident in Belgium also drew a response from Israel, on that occasion from the general director of the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Yuval Rotem, who called it a “ despicable exhibition of anti-Semitism.”

Caricatures of orthodox Jews at the carnival in Belgium.
Caricatures of orthodox Jews at the carnival in Belgium. NICOLAS MAETERLINCK (AFP)

Other controversies

This is not the first time a Spanish tradition has sparked controversy. The annual Three Kings parade, which recreates the biblical tale of the Magi’s journey to visit the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, is often criticized for using a white actor with black-painted face to represent the figure of King Balthazar.

This instance of “blackface” is seen on a larger scale at the Three Kings parade in Alcoy, in Alicante province. At this event, hundreds of locals – not just King Balthazar – paint their faces black and their lips red to represent black pages accompanying the kings of Orient.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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