Israel Condemns Belarusian Leader’s Anti-Semitic Remarks

Israel’s top diplomat in West Jerusalem has condemned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for his remarks regarding a corruption scandal.

Israel has criticized Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for suggesting that a disproportionate number of officials involved in corruption scandals in his country are Jewish.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz stated on Sunday that Lukashenko’s comments were “unacceptable,” “outrageous,” and clearly sounded “anti-Semitic.” This rebuke follows a statement made by the Belarusian leader during a government meeting regarding a scandal implicating numerous suspects, including former Agriculture Minister Igor Brylo.

“There are 36 individuals on a list involved in corruption,” Lukashenko told the Council of Ministers in Minsk. “While I do not consider myself anti-Semitic, over half of them are Jewish. Do they hold a special, privileged role, allowing them to steal without considering their future? Are they granted privileges?” He added, “All residents of Belarus, including Jews, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Russians, and Poles, should be treated equally.”

Katz informed the Jewish News Syndicate that Yuval Fuchs, head of his ministry’s Eurasia bureau, has filed a complaint regarding the incident with the Belarusian ambassador to Israel.

In July 2023, Lukashenko appointed Brylo as his presidential aide and inspector for the Vitebsk Region, transferring him from the Agriculture Ministry. However, the president removed Brylo from this new post in November, citing “an offense incompatible with the civil service.” A media report indicated that the case was linked to an alleged corruption scheme within the country’s dairy industry.

Israeli officials have previously accused Lukashenko of making anti-Semitic remarks, including a 2007 incident where he told reporters that Jewish people allowed the places they lived to fall into disrepair. Referring to the Belarusian city of Bobruisk, he claimed Jewish residents had turned it into a “pigsty.” He added, “This was established as a Jewish city, and you know how Jews treat the places they live in.”

West Jerusalem responded by lodging a complaint with the Belarusian ambassador, but stopped short of recalling its envoy to Minsk.

The Israeli government also reprimanded Lukashenko in July 2021 after he stated that the entire world had been made to “kneel” to the Jewish people due to the Holocaust.