Israel has lashed out at Russia for its foreign minister’s “unforgivable” comments about Nazism and anti-Semitism – including claims that Adolf Hitler was Jewish.
Nazism figured prominently in Russia’s war aims and narrative as it fights in Ukraine. In his attempt to legitimize the war with Russian citizens, President Vladimir Putin described the battle as a struggle against the Nazis in Ukraine, even though the country has a democratically elected government and a Jewish president whose relatives were killed during the war. ‘Holocaust.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the comments during an interview with an Italian news channel, in response to a question about Russian claims that he invaded Ukraine to ‘denazify’ the country .
Lavrov said Ukraine might still have Nazi elements even though some prominent figures, including the country’s president, were Jewish.
“So when they say ‘How can Nazification exist if we’re Jews?’ In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish backgrounds, so that means absolutely nothing. For some time now, we have heard from the Jewish people that the greatest anti-Semites were Jews,” he said, speaking to the station in Russian, dubbed by an Italian translation.
Nazi Germany was responsible for the systematic murder of six million Jewish men, women and children and the persecution and death of millions more, including Roma, Sinti, Slavs, people LGBTQ, people with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political dissidents.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Lavrov’s statement “unforgivable and outrageous and a horrific historical error.”
“Jews didn’t kill themselves in the Holocaust,” Lapid said. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is blaming Jews themselves for anti-Semitism.”
Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, called the remarks “absurd, delusional, dangerous and deserving of condemnation.”
“Lavrov propagates Holocaust inversion – turning victims into criminals based on the promotion of a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent,” he said in a statement.
“It is equally serious to call Ukrainians in general, and President (Volodymyr) Zelensky in particular, Nazis. This, among other things, is a complete distortion of history and an affront to the victims of Nazism.”
Ukraine also condemned Lavrov’s remarks.
“In trying to rewrite history, Moscow is simply looking for arguments to justify the massacres of Ukrainians,” tweeted Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.