Israel Condemns Sergei Lavrov’s Claim Hitler Was Part Jewish: NPR

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference following talks with his Armenian counterpart in Moscow on April 8.

Alexander Zemlanichenki/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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Alexander Zemlanichenki/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference following talks with his Armenian counterpart in Moscow on April 8.

Alexander Zemlanichenki/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli officials are criticizing Russia and demanding an apology for comments its foreign minister made about Nazism over the weekend. It is the strongest condemnation of Russia by Israel since the war in Ukraine began in February.

It all started on Sunday, days after Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made anti-Semitic comments in an interview with the Italian television program Zona Bianca.

Lavrov was asked about Russia’s claim that it had invaded Ukraine to “de-Nazify” the country, which has a democratically elected Jewish president.

“So when they say ‘How can there be Nazification if we’re Jewish?’ In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means absolutely nothing,” he told the Russian-language station, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s religion, according to the Associated Press. “For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest anti-Semites were Jews.”

The reaction was swift, with officials in both Israel and Ukraine criticizing Lavrov’s comments as deeply offensive and historically inaccurate. (Some people have speculated that Hitler’s unnamed paternal grandfather was Jewish, an unproven rumor that the BBC explains was fueled by a claim in a 1953 memoir by Hitler’s lawyer Hans Frank.)

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid the son of a holocaust survivor and grandson of a Holocaust victim, called Lavrov’s comments “inexcusable” and “outrageous.”

“Jews did not commit suicide in the Holocaust,” he said. wrote in a tweet. “The lowest level of anti-Jewish racism is accusing the Jews themselves of anti-Semitism.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement Monday calling for an immediate end to the use of the Holocaust “as a political battering ram,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

“Lies like these are intended to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history, which were committed against them, and thus relieve the oppressors of the Jews of their responsibility,” he added.

Dani Dayan, president of Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, wrote on Twitter that Lavrov was “propagating the inversion of the Holocaust” by promoting an unfounded claim that turns his victims into criminals.

Calling Zelenskyy, and the Ukrainian public in general, Nazis is “a complete distortion of history and a serious affront to the victims of Nazism,” he added.

Russia has frequently invoked Nazism and World War II to justify its aggression in Ukraine, drawing criticism and accusations of hypocrisy, especially as its forces attacked Holocaust memorial sites and killed several Holocaust survivors in residential bombings.

Israel’s swift and forceful condemnation of Lavrov’s comments is particularly noteworthy as the country has been criticized for not doing enough to show support for Ukraine.

Bennett has largely avoided criticizing Russia for its full-scale invasion. And while other officials have expressed support for Ukraine, Israel has not sent military equipment or fully joined Western sanctions against Russia.

As NPR reported, Zelenskyy expressed his impatience in a March speech to Israeli lawmakers in which he compared Russia’s invasion to the Holocaust and urged Israel to take stronger action, including sending weapons to Ukraine and accepting refugees. non-Jews fleeing war.

Lavrov’s comments have also drawn anger outside of Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League he condemned his “misuse of the Nazis, Hitler and the Holocaust”, calling it part of his “apparently desperate efforts” to justify Russia’s war in Ukraine.

A German government spokesman said the idea that Hitler had Jewish heritage was “absurd” propaganda, according to Reuters, while the country’s anti-Semitism commissioner said the comments “blatantly confront not only Jews but the entire international public.” with open anti-Semitism”.

Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that in addition to offending Zelenskyy, Ukraine, Israel and the Jewish people, Lavrov’s statements “demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations.”

This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog

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