“Blaming the Jews for the Holocaust is an unacceptable blood libel.”
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
Israeli officials reacted with fury to Russia’s claim that Hitler was part Jewish.
The diplomatic rupture began on Sunday when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked by the Italian Channel 4 news show Zona Bianca how Moscow can claim that it is denazifying Ukraine when its President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish.
Lavrov replied “The fact that Zelensky is Jewish does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood.”
Russia’s top diplomat then doubled down, adding that “some of the worst antisemites are Jews.”
Israeli officials angrily demanded an apology.
“This is both an unforgivable and scandalous thing to say – and a terrible historical mistake. We expect an apology,” said Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “The Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust.”
Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for what Lapid described as “a not-so-easy talk.” The Foreign Ministry described Viktorov’s summons as a “clarification conversation.”
Following the meeting, an Israeli source told the Times of Israel that “Our message was made clear by the [Foreign Ministry’s] Eurasia director, Gary Koren.”
The official added, “The two sides decided not to give any more details on the contents of the conversation.”
The Russian embassy in Tel Aviv has not issued a response to burgeoning uproar.
A statement issued by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said “The aim of such lies is to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history that were committed against them, thus freeing from responsibility the oppressors of Israel.”
The head of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, Dani Dayan, denounced Lavrov’s comments as a “blood libel.”
“If Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov asks to visit Yad Vashem to learn, we will welcome him. He crossed a red line; blaming the Jews for the Holocaust is an unacceptable blood libel,” Dayan told Army Radio on Monday.
News of Lavrov’s comments reverberated around the world.
German government spokesman Steffen Hebstreit said the Russian government’s “propaganda” efforts weren’t worthy of comment, calling them “absurd.” A number of German officials were recently in Israel as the Jewish state marked Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In a video statement to Israel’s Kan News, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, “Even Minister Lavrov, who knows what diplomacy is, cannot hide anymore the deeply rooted antisemitism — the antisemitism that is deeply rooted into Russian elites.”
The president of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello characterized Lavrov’s comments as “dangerous and delusional,” and said they “rewrite history in a similar way to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – the foundation of modern antisemitic literature created in Tsarist Russia.”
Dureghello also chided Zona Bianca for letting Lavrov’s remarks go unchallenged.
Zelensky also drew Israeli ire for drawing comparisons between Ukraine and the Holocaust during an address to Knesset lawmakers in March. Yad Vashem accused Zelensky of trivializing the Holocaust when he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking to carry out a “final solution” against Ukraine.
In March, SITE, a Maryland-based organization that tracks the online activities of white supremacists and jihadists reported that neo-Nazis from North America and Europe have been flocking to Ukraine to fight — some for Russia, others for Ukraine.
According to SITE, whose findings were published in the Washington Post, some want to turn Ukraine into an Aryan state, others want to simply kill Jews, and others want to get combat experience they can bring back home for a future race war.
The report also accused Putin of harboring Western neo-Nazis, including Rinaldo Nizarro, who is wanted by the FBI for trying to spark racial unrest.