A Catholic high school in Belgium has allegedly said it is “proud” of an outgoing teacher who received a cash prize at the Iranian Holocaust Cartoon competition.
Luc Descheemaeker, who has just retired from the Sint-Jozefs Institute high school, was awarded and accepted a “special prize” at the Second International Cartoon Contest. His submission included the words “Arbeit Macht Frei”, which were originally cast above the entrance to Auschwitz, over a wall with barbed wire, meant to resemble the Israeli West Bank Barrier and drawing a comparison between Israeli policy and the Holocaust. Such a comparison is considered antisemitic under the EUMC working definition of antisemitism.
UNESCO has condemned the competition as an attempt at “at a mockery of the genocide of the Jewish people, a tragic page of humanity’s history”.
In a (presumably sarcastic) letter from a Belgian-Jewish organisation which asked whether the school was “proud” of their teacher’s participation in such an event, a faculty member replied “We are indeed very proud to have Luc associated with our school. His talent is of great value for the artistic education of our students!”
When the school was asked more directly about the award, school director Paul Vanthournout said that the “consideration of it as anti-Semitic is exaggerated”, this despite the fact that the cartoon clearly falls foul of the EUMC definition of antisemitism. He also worryingly mentioned that Descheemaeker had been in charge of some Holocaust education in the school.