The Jerusalem Post
Belarusian president: Whole world ‘bows’ to Jews due to Holocaust
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed the “whole world bows” to the Jews due to the Holocaust, during a memorial service for Soviet soldiers who fell during World War II last week.
“Jews were able to make the world remember [the Holocaust], and the whole world bows to them, being afraid of saying one wrong word to them,” said Lukashenko. “On our part, we, being tolerant and kind, did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings and let the things down to the point when they have started to hurt us.”
The speech focused on the role of Belarusians in fighting the Nazis alongside Soviet forces, with the Belarusian president stressing that more work was needed to ensure that people remember Belarus’s part in World War II. “This work has already begun with the investigation into the crimes of Nazism on the Belarusian soil. This is akin to the Holocaust of the Belarusian people,” said Lukashenko.
Some 800,000 Jews (90% of the Jewish population) were killed in Belarus during the Holocaust, according to the European Jewish Congress. While in some other countries, the local population helped the Nazis massacre local Jews, Belarusians did not do the same and several individuals and small groups even helped protect Jews, according to the US nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves.
On the same day Lukashenko made the comments, President Reuven Rivlin extended Independence Day greetings to the Belarusian president, pointing to the relations between Jews and Belarus.
“Many representatives of the Jewish people have lived in Belarus
for centuries, immigrated to the State of Israel and made valuable contributions to the education and development of the state. The community of natives of Belarus in Israel serves as a ‘living bridge’ that strengthens the relationship between our countries,” said Rivlin, according to the official website of the Belarusian president.
“Rivlin wished Aleksandr Lukashenko well-being and continued progress and prosperity to the Belarusian people,” according to the website.
This isn’t the first time the Belarusian leader has landed himself in hot water over antisemitic comments.
In 2015, Lukashenko criticized Semyon Shapiro, the Jewish governor of the Minsk region at the time, for not getting Belarusian Jews “under control.”
“I told you a year ago to get all the Jews of Belarus under control,” said Lukashenko to Shapiro, pointing out Yuri Zisser, the director of the TUT.by website, as “not behaving correctly.” Zisser’s online publication had criticized a tax decree imposed by Lukashenko at the time.
In 2007, the Belarusian leader lashed out at Jewish residents of Bobruisk, a port city, saying that they had turned the city into a “pig sty.”
“This is a Jewish city, and the Jews are not concerned for the place they live in. They have turned Bobruisk into a pig sty. Look at Israel – I was there,” said Lukashenko.
Belarus has been the target of US and EU sanctions due to its crackdown on anti-government protests and the interception of a Ryanair flight as it traversed Belarusian airspace in order to arrest a dissident and journalist.