Israel slams Russian Lavrov’s comments that Hitler had ‘Jewish blood’

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JERUSALEM — Israeli officials reacted with fury on Monday after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Ukrainian Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky of supporting Nazism and claimed that “Hitler also had Jewish blood.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Russia’s ambassador to Israel would be officially summoned to explain the comments, which Lapid called “both unforgivable and outrageous.” He said Israel would demand an apology from the Russian government for using a discredited anti-Semitic trope: that Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Third Reich and perpetrator of the Holocaust, was of Jewish ancestry.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said “Lavrov’s words are wrong and their intentions are wrong”.

“The purpose of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most horrific crimes in history, which have been perpetrated against them, and thus to absolve Israel’s enemies of all responsibility,” he said. -he declares. “The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political tool must stop immediately.”

Lavrov made the comments in an interview on Italian television on Sunday as he sought to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was forced to launch a “special military operation” in February, in part because he believes Ukraine is dominated and ruled by neo-Nazis. Pressed to reconcile these “denazification” claims with Zelensky’s Jewish identity, Lavrov dismissed its relevance.

“What if Zelensky is Jewish,” Lavrov said, according to a translation of his remarks, which he made into Russian. “The fact does not deny the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe Hitler also had Jewish blood.

“Some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews,” Lavrov said.

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Outrage over Lavrov’s comments quickly spread across Israel. Dani Dayan, president of Yad Vashem, Israel’s leading Holocaust museum and research center, called them “dangerous” and “a blow to the victims of true Nazism”.

Israel’s Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Yair Golan said in a radio interview on Monday that Lavrov’s remarks reflect “what the Russian regime really is — a violent regime that does not hesitate not to get rid of your internal rivals, to invade a foreign country and accuse it of reviving Nazism.

In Ukraine, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that the words of Lavrov “demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations.” .

Lavrov’s comments appeared to harden Israel’s reaction to the Russian invasion, which was mixed and evolved over the course of the war.

Jerusalem initially denounced the fighting but moderated its direct criticism of Russia due to concerns about its broader security relationship with Moscow. Israel depends on Russian forces to let it carry out unacknowledged airstrikes on Iran-backed militants inside Syria, according to military analysts here.

Bennett, who had good relations with Putin and Zelensky, also said he wanted to maintain some neutrality so he could mediate between them, a role he played in the early weeks of the conflict.

But as fighting in Ukraine continues and the civilian death toll rises, Israel increasingly denounces Russia. Lapid in particular has not spared his criticisms.

In April, he accused Russia of war crimes after revelations of atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

“A large and powerful country invaded a smaller neighbor without any justification. Once again the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians,” Lapid said during a public appearance in Greece.

Moscow expressed fury later in April after Lapid voted at the United Nations to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Russia said it was an attempt to distract the world’s attention from the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Russian government did not immediately comment on Israel’s demand for an apology for Lavrov’s remarks.

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