Belarus Jewish leader deplores "instances of anti-Semitism" 11:27, 18/11/2005
The chairman of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Organizations and Communities, expressed anxiety on Thursday at "instances of anti-Semitism in Belarusian society." "There are instances of anti-Semitism in Belarusian society, but there is no anti-Semitism at the state level," Leonid Levin told a news conference in Minsk.
"The greatest source of concern for the Belarusian Jewish community are acts of vandalism that are sometimes committed in Jewish cemeteries and against Jewish monuments," he said.
They "are not merely teenage hooliganism, but instances of anti-Semitism," Levin said. Stanislav Buko, chairman of the Religious and Ethnic Affairs Committee, a Belarusian government agency, said, "There has never been any anti-Semitism at the state level in Belarus, nor is there any."
"Tolerance and respect for other peoples and ethnic groups is part of the Belarusian national character. The Belarusian people have never been nationalistic," he said.
There are 120 ethnic cultural associations in Belarus, Buko said.
The Union of Belarusian Jewish Organizations and Communities is the country`s second ethnic association after the Union of Poles in terms of membership and reach, he said.
"The Union comprises 46 Jewish organizations, 13 of which are in Minsk," he said. Yigal Koifman, first secretary of the Israeli Embassy to Belarus, said Israel had conferred the title of Righteous Among the Nations on 500 Belarusians who rescued Jews from the Nazis during World War II.