By Erin Viner
When asked how Russia could claim that it needed to “de-Nazify” Ukraine when the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, Moscow’s top diplomat said the association was meaningless.
“When they say ‘What sort of Nazification is this if we are Jews’ -well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing,” Lavrov said, speaking through an Italian interpreter.
“For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves,” he went on to say.
Ukraine and allies insist that Russia invaded without provocation and is guilty of war crimes. Moscow maintains it is carrying out a “special military operation” aimed at “de-Nazifying” its neighbor, and denies any civilians have been attacked.
Israel immediately denounced Lavrov’s statements as historically false nd demanded an apology from Moscow.
“Following the grave remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel for a clarification meeting with the Deputy Director-General for Eurasian Affairs,” read a statement TV7 obtained from the MFA.
“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error. Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of anti-Semitism,” continued the statement.
“It is an unforgivable, scandalous statement, a terrible historical mistake, and we expect an apology,” Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid said of his Russian counterpart’s comments while speaking to the local Ynet news agency.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also issued a stern statement, saying he viewed the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement with “with utmost severity.”
“His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong,” said Bennett in a communiqué issued by his office, stressing that, “The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them, and thereby absolve Israel’s enemies of responsibility.
He reiterated that “no war in our time is like the Holocaust or is comparable to the Holocaust,” adding that “the use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political tool must cease immediately.”
“The remarks of Russian Foreign Minister Sergeĭ Lavrov, as quoted, are absurd, delusional, dangerous and deserving of condemnation. Lavrov is propagating the inversion of the Holocaust – turning the victims into the criminals on the basis of promoting a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent,” said a statement released by the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
The Center, which is Israel’s memorial to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, added that, “Equally serious is calling the Ukrainians in general, and President Zelenskyy in particular, Nazis. This, among other things, is a complete distortion of the history and an affront to the victims of Nazism.”
Dayan said Lavrov was spreading “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory with no basis in fact,” he said while speaking to the public Kan radio station.
There was no immediate comment from the Russian Embassy in Israel.