Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Transmission

In Belarus, 'No Jews, No Anti-Semitism'?

People visit a destroyed Jewish cemetery in March near a memorial to Jews killed in Minsk's Jewish ghetto during the Nazi occupation.
People visit a destroyed Jewish cemetery in March near a memorial to Jews killed in Minsk's Jewish ghetto during the Nazi occupation.
As the world marked International Day against Fascism and Anti-Semitism on November 9, RFE/RL's Belarus Service shared some views from the Belarusian blogosphere on historically stubborn discrimination against Jews.

"No Jews -- no anti-Semitism," blogger and journalist Yauhen Lipkovich quipped, before highlighting a troubling aspect of much of Belarusian society's approach to Jews. "Stadiums are built on the sites of Jewish cemeteries [and] swastikas are painted on the graves. At the same time, a Belarusian liver is transplanted into an Israeli spy."

The latter is a reference to the fact that a Belarusian donor emerged for former Mossad director Meir Dagan, who is suffering from cancer and traveled to Minsk for the transplant.
A monument to Jewish victims of Nazism vandalized in the eastern Belarusian city of Mahileu.
A monument to Jewish victims of Nazism vandalized in the eastern Belarusian city of Mahileu.

The country's notoriously blunt president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, tries to maintain a veneer of deniability when it comes to anti-Semitism. Vandalism against Jewish memorials is a relatively common occurrence, and such minor acts are sometimes punished.

And Russian television was caught disinforming when it erroneously quoted Lukashenka in a "Handelsblatt" interview suggesting that not everything connected to Adolf Hitler was bad. Later, the president's characterization of Jews turning the Belarusian city of Babruysk into a "pigpen" was less easily explained.

The post-Soviet Euro-Asian Jewish Congress's Yakov Basin once put it this way:

Belarus social life has retained a rather visible tendentiousness towards Jews. Scientific literature, encyclopedias, reference books, and school books often remain silent of the history of Belarus Jews and the tragedy of the Holocaust....

Criminal anti-Semitism in Belarus has been suppressed “from above.” Thus, such events as the beating or killing of Jews or attempts to set fire to synagogues are absent. The only manifestations of criminal anti-Semitism are acts of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries and on memorials to victims of genocide.

"What kind of day is that for us?" Kuzma Kazak, a Belarusian historian who specializes in World War II, asks. "There is a small number of historians and civic organizations who remind modern Belarus of what it was like then. However, the issue [of the Holocaust] is very close to us; it is related to our history and to our present lives. What did we see in 1938? Everyone was on alert, [and there was] a search for enemies, a defining of enemies, which led to the catastrophe of the Holocaust."
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Comments
     
by: EDWARD J SCHUMANN from: KEY LARGO, FL. USA
November 09, 2012 20:24
THE 'LOW LIFES' OF RFE/RL HAVE REALY GONE DOWN THE GUTTER,WHEN THEY HAVE NOTHING BAD TO SAY ABOUT LUKASHENKO. POLISH, LITHUANIAN ,UKRAINIAN ,GERMAN NAZIS KILLED MILLIONS OF INNOCENT JEWS,NOW RFE/RL IS TRYING TO PORTRAY LUKASHENKO AS ANTI-SEMETIC. SHAME ON YOU RFE/RL BELARUSSIA WAS A SAFE HAVEN FROM GERMAN AND POLISH ANTI-SEMITES DURING WWII!
In Response

by: John Tarin from: La Vegas, NV
November 10, 2012 17:10
@Ed
I don't believe the article is about "Time Machines".
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 10, 2012 18:13
First, it's "Belarus," not "Belarussia."

Second, it's silly to think Belarus was a safe haven for Jews in WWII, for the simple reason that all of Belarus was occupied by the Germans. Minsk had a ghetto, there were pogroms from day one of the occupation, and the Jewish population of Belarus nearly disappeared and never recovered (you can read about this in, for example, Wikipedia's "The Holocaust in Belarus," though it should really be common sense).

Regardless, this article is written about life in Belarus today, not sixty years ago, so all of this is not so important. I am a Belarusian Jew, my family lived in Belarus for several generations, and I, too, live in Belarus. This article is correct in describing and explaining that there is no big crimes happening against Jews, but it is also true that being a Jew in Belarus is uncomfortable. Antisemitic slurs are thrown around like common curse words (e.g. if one haggles too much, one might tell you to stop "jewing around"), and some, but not the most, acquaintances will judge you a little if they find out you're Jewish.

But since you are from Florida, you probably would not know this.
In Response

by: Denis Š from: Czech republic
November 12, 2012 09:14
Truer words were never spoken. Or written. On this matter, at least.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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