For the end of the Hanukkah holiday, several activists of the Union of Jewish Students of Belgium (UEJB) lit a hannukiah in front of the town hall of Aalst, without permission from the local authorities.
Hanukkah is a very important holiday in Jewish tradition. It celebrates the legendary miracle that allowed the Jews, after defending themselves from attempts at assimilation by the Greeks in the second century B.C., to light the sacred menorah (candlestick) for eight days despite the small amount of oil remaining after the sacking of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is a call to resilience, resistance and hope symbolized by the gradual lighting of a nine-branched candlestick.
For several years, the Aalst Carnival has proudly hosted, with the blessing of Mayor Christoph D'Haese (N-VA), floats carrying anti-Semitic caricatures. Despite a strong mobilization, the incessant calls of the Jewish community to stop these insults remain unheeded.
Joanna Peczenik and Sacha Guttmann, co-presidents of the UEJB declare: "If Hanukkah is a holiday celebrating light and hope, it is also because it carries within it the memory of one of the most eminent Jewish revolts in history. We say it without complex: There is no place in our country for insults to any community. In keeping with the spirit of this holiday, we will be present whenever necessary to make revolt triumph over apathy, hope over despair, light over darkness."