Israel summons Russia envoy over minister’s Hitler comments

<img src="https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.N6iG3cQWFlFDcD8Hz.6Mg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3NjtjZj13ZWJw/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/RQ0FVCVaxFuOogpPt08IOA–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/142ea414b63ff5de9001d28ef25ce96c&quot; alt="<span>Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/AFP/Getty Images

Israel condemns comments by Sergei Lavrov, who said Hitler ‘had Jewish blood’ and the ‘most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews’

Israel has summoned the Russian ambassador over remarks by the Kremlin foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that the “most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews”.

The remarks were part of Lavrov’s defence of Russia’s policy of “de-nazification” in Ukraine, the Kremlin’s term for a sweeping purge that Ukraine says is a pretext for “mass murder.”

In an interview with Italian TV, Lavrov was asked to address how Russia could say it needed to “de-nazify” the country when its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is Jewish.

“As to [Zelenskiy’s] argument of what kind of nazification can we have if I’m Jewish, if I remember correctly, and I may be wrong, Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said during an interview with Italian television channel Mediaset. “It doesn’t mean anything at all.”

“We have for a long time listened to the wise Jewish people who say that the most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews,” Lavrov continued. “There is no family without a monster.”

The remarks have sparked a diplomatic row with Israel, one of the few western countries that has yet to sanction Russia over its invasion and has not provided military aid to Ukraine.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” said Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister. “Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”

Israeli officials have also demanded an apology from Russia for the remarks.

“His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong,” said the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett. “Using the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political tool must cease immediately.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy, called Lavrov’s statement “antisemitic” and said that it is “further evidence that Russia is the legal successor of Nazi ideology”.

“Trying to rewrite history, Moscow is simply looking for arguments to justify the mass murders of Ukrainians,” he wrote.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, also condemned Lavrov’s remarks as “absurd, delusional, dangerous and deserving of condemnation”.

The organisation in March had also attacked Zelenskiy for comparing Russia’s intentions in Ukraine to the Holocaust.

Lavrov has addressed Zelenskiy’s religion in the past as Moscow has been pressed to explain how it can “de-nazify” a country with a Jewish leader. In March, shortly after Russia began its war in Ukraine, Lavrov told US broadcaster ABC News: “I think the Nazis and neo-Nazis manipulate [Zelenskiy].”

In his interview this week, Lavrov also said he did not want Ukraine to surrender but simply that it “stop resisting”.

“We don’t demand that [Zelenskiy] surrender,” Lavrov said. “We demand that he give the order to release all civilians and stop resisting. Our goal does not include regime change in Ukraine.”

Published by anthonyhayble

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