Israel has reacted angrily to ‘unforgivable’ comments and allegations from Russia’s foreign minister, including that Adolf Hitler was a Jew.
Sergei Lavrov made the comments in an attempt to justify Russia’s portrayal of Ukraine as a ‘Nazi’, despite the fact that its president is Jewish.
Israel, which has apologized to the Russian ambassador, said the remarks blamed Jews for their own murder during the Holocaust.
Sir. Lavrov made the remarks in an interview on Italian television on Sunday, a few days after Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Asked in an interview about Russian allegations that they invaded Ukraine to ‘de-Nazify’ the country, Mr Lavrov said that Ukraine could still have Nazi elements, even though some people, including the country’s president, were Jews.
So when they say “How can Nazism exist if we are Jews?” In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it does not matter at all, ‘said Mr Lavrov, speaking to the station in Russian, christened by an Italian translation.
‘For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the greatest anti-Semites were Jews.’
The comments have sparked outrage and have been condemned by Israel.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Mr Lavrov’s statement “unforgivable”, “scandalous” and a “terrible historical mistake”.
“The Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” Mr Lapid said.
‘The lowest level of racism against Jews is to blame Jews themselves for anti-Semitism.’
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has previously been measured in his criticism of Russia’s invasion, also condemned Mr Lavrov’s comments.
“His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong,” he said.
‘The use of the Holocaust by the Jewish people as a political tool must cease immediately.’
Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem called the remarks ‘absurd, delusional, dangerous and deserving of condemnation’.
“Lavrov is advocating for the inversion of the Holocaust – making the victims criminals on the basis of promoting a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent,” it said in a statement.
Equally serious is calling the Ukrainians in general and President (Volodymyr) Zelensky in particular Nazis.
‘This is, among other things, a complete distortion of history and a violation of the victims of Nazism.’
Nazism has played a prominent role in Russia’s war goals and narrative since it first invaded Ukraine.
In his attempt to legitimize the war, President Vladimir Putin has portrayed the fight as a fight against Nazis in Ukraine, even though the country has a democratically elected government and a Jewish president whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust.
Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews during the Holocaust during World War II.
Israel, home to a declining population of Holocaust survivors, has placed itself at the center of global efforts to remember the tragedy and fight anti-Semitism.
Throughout the conflict, Israel has sought to establish a neutral position between Russia and Ukraine and remain in Russia’s good advantage for its own security needs.
It has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and expressed support for its people, but has been measured in its criticism of Russia and has not endorsed international sanctions against it.
But Mr Lavrov’s claims and Israel’s reaction mark a steep decline in the relationship.
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