update deskAntisemitism

Katz calls Belarus president’s remarks ‘clear’ antisemitism

Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko blamed Jews for corruption charges facing his government.

President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Sept. 14, 2020. Credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Sept. 14, 2020. Credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Sunday described remarks made by Belarus’s president a day earlier as “unacceptable
and “outrageous,” adding that they “sound like clear antisemitic comments.”

Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday blamed Jews for corruption charges facing his government.

“Here are 36 people on a list involved in corruption,” he said during a government meeting, also referring specifically to his former aide and agricultural minister Igor Barillo. “Sorry, I don’t consider myself antisemitic, but more than half of them are Jewish. Do they have a special, privileged role, that they steal and do not think about their future? Do they have privileges? All peoples living in Belarus should be equal. Jews, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Russians and Poles,” the Baltic leader added.

The head of the ministry’s Eurasia bureau, Yuval Fuchs, has lodged a complaint with Belarus’s ambassador in Israel regarding the matter, Katz told JNS.

Lukashenko has a history of making antisemitic remarks. In 2017 he accused Jews of turning Babruysk, a historic Belarusian city with deep Jewish ties, into a “pig house.”

In 2021, he said the world “kneels” to Jews because of the Holocaust. 

“The Jews succeeded in causing the entire world to kneel to them and no one will dare raise a voice and deny the Holocaust,” he said at a ceremony for Belarus’s independence day, celebrated on the day Soviet forces liberated the capital city of Minsk from the Nazis in 1944.

Finally, two months after the Oct. 7 massacre, speaking of Armenia, he said they were smart people because “there is not even one Jew there.”

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