‘Game of Thrones’ Star Cancels Belgium Appearance Over Parade with Jewish Caricatures

December 3, 2019
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 21: Carice van Houten attends the BAFTA Los Angeles + BBC America TV Tea Party 2019 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 21, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Carice van Houten, a Dutch actress known for her role in the hit series “Game of Thrones,” canceled a television appearance in Belgium over the use of caricatures of Jews at a parade there.

Van Houten, who portrayed Melisandre in the series, and her associate, Halina Reijn, who is married to a Jewish soccer player, both pulled out of the panel of the talk show “The Appointment” after learning it would host Christoph D’Haese, the mayor of Aalst, who has insisted on the legitimacy of caricaturing Jews at his city’s iconic annual carnival.

In March, the carnival featured a float with effigies of grinning Jews holding money, one carrying a rat on its shoulder. The float received widespread condemnation, including by Belgium’s UNIA watchdog on racism, which called it anti-Semitic.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, condemned the display as “racist and anti-Semitic” and scheduled a vote on whether to remove Aalst from its list of culturally significant events. On Sunday, D’Haese said Aalst would leave UNESCO and insisted again that the display falls within legitimate expression of satire in the context of the carnival’s promotion of edgy humor.

“No Halina Reijn and Carice Van Houten as advertised,” Phara de Aguirre, the Belgian show’s presenter, wrote Monday on Twitter. “Reijn is married to a Jewish man and doesn’t want to share a table with Aalst’s mayor.”

De Aguirre quoted Reijn as having called the mayor “an anti-Semite” and said Van Houten canceled out of solidarity.

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