"This is a Jewish city, and the Jews are not concerned for the place they live in. They have turned Bobruisk into a pigsty. Look at Israel – I was there," the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, said during a live broadcast on state radio in his country.
On Thursday, he was severely rebuked by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Belarus's ambassador, Igor Laschenya, has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry for a harsh protest.
Last Friday, Lukashenko held a special press conference broadcast on state radio. The president of Belarus made blatant anti-Semitic comments and attacked the State of Israel.
Addressing the miserable state of the city of Bobruisk, Lukashenko said: "This is a Jewish city... I call on Jews who have money to come back to Bobruisk."
In response, Livni harshly condemned the anti-Semitic comments. "The role of leaders is to fight anti-Semitism, which is raising its ugly head in various parts of the world, not encourage it. The anti-Semitism reflects first and foremost on the society in which it appears and on its leaders," the foreign minister said.
Israel's ambassador to Belarus, Ze'ev Ben-Aryeh, said in an interview to a newspaper in the country: "The expressions of the president bring up the anti-Semitic myth that presents the Jews as neglectful people, dirty, and smelly. From his remarks, the president made out as if the city's affairs and budget are in the hands of the Jews rather than the authorities."
Ben-Ze'ev added that he very much hoped that one day the city and social services in Belarus would reach the standard of service in Israel.