Anti-Semitic hate speech (Abstract only)

Helena Gellert (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

A carnival procession in the small Belgian town of Aalst was a UNESCO World Heritage from 2010 to 2019 – until highly anti-Semitic behaviour, including offensive images and costumes, began to interfere with the event. Even after loud protests, in 2020 a group of people again disguised themselves as “Jewish vermin”. Common anti-Semitic imagery includes hooked noses, rats on their shoulders, money bags, SS uniforms and carnival floats depicted as cattle carts. Despite overt anti-Semitism, the mayor of Aalst commented that anti-Semitism is not a problem in the town.

From a praxeological point of view, this paper analyzes how anti-Semitic hate speech takes place and through what means of communication. This paper will also consider how anti-Semitic hate speech contributes to the perpetuation and expansion of hostility toward Jews.

According to Sponholz (2018, p.58), publicity, communication, and discrimination are characteristic features of hate speech. Hate speech is both the verbal expression of hatred against groups of people and the non-verbal expression of hatred through gestures, facial expressions, and pictures. Meibauer (2013, p.2-5) emphasizes that the manifestations of hate speech vary and are not meant to be recognized as such by all observers of the interaction. Categorizing people on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, religion, skin colour, etc. is central to hate speech. Learning the expression of hatred is a necessary prerequisite for the practice of hate speech; according to Meibauer (2013, p.4) the expression of hatred can be handed down in families and communities.

This article will systematically investigate the practice of anti-Semitic hate speech and analyse how the establishment of the social takes place. Moreover, the necessary knowledge for the practice of hate speech will be examined – e.g. the knowledge of communication taboos, the expression of hate, or the categorization of people. Furthermore, the violent consequences of hate speech will be investigated – in science, hate speech is discussed as one of the triggers of genocide (Sponholz, 2018).

This is preceded by a comprehensive literature review of contemporary hate speech research and an investigation of existing forms of action of hate speech. In addition, anti-Semitic messages are to be observed and analysed in the context of hate speech. For this purpose, the medium and form, the images and rhetoric of anti-Semitic messages will be analysed. It is central to examine the stereotyping of Jews in order to work out the moment of categorization that is part of Hate Speech.: How are attributed physical features simultaneously associated with moral values and character traits? This paper will employ images of the anti-Semitic messages of the carnival in Aalst. Additionally, I will examine public anti-Semitic groups and profiles in social media and analyse their content with regard to the practice of hate speech.


Meibauer, J., 2013. Hassrede/ Hatespeech. Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zu einer aktuellen Diskussion. In: I. Bons, G. Fritz and T. Gloning, eds. Linguistische Untersuchungen 6, [online] Available at: Universität Gießen < /> [Accessed 15 March 2020]

Sponholz, L., 2018. Hate Speech in den Massenmedien. Theoretische Grundlagen und empirische Umsetzung. Wiesbaden. Springer VS, [online] Available at: < > [Accessed 15 March 2020]

Technau, B., 2018. Die Semantik und Pragmatik pejorativer Personenbezeichnungen. Berlin. De Gruyter, [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 March 2020]

List of figures

Figure 1: Roge, T./ EPA. Belgian carnivalists in Aalst as SS men [photograph]. Available at: <> [Accessed 03.03.2020]
Figure 2: Gekier, J.A., 2020. Flemings dressed as orthodox Jewish insects at the Eelster carnival. [photographer]. Available at: <> [Accessed 03.03.2020]

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