May 18, 2022

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Israel demands an apology after Russia said Hitler had Jewish roots

Israel demands an apology after Russia said Hitler had Jewish roots

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint press conference with Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh (not pictured) following their talks in Moscow, Russia on April 27, 2022. Yuri Kochetkov/Paul via Reuters/File Photo

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  • Israel summons the Russian ambassador for ‘tough talks’
  • Israeli minister says Lavrov’s comment ‘unforgivable’
  • Russian minister says Jews are ‘biggest anti-Semites’
  • Ukraine says Russia is “full of hatred” for other countries

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel criticized Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday for claiming Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry, saying it was an “unforgivable” lie that removed the horrors of the Holocaust.

Referring to the sharp deterioration of relations with Moscow, the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded an apology.

“These lies aim to accuse the Jews themselves of committing the most heinous crimes in history that have been committed against them,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

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“The use of the Holocaust against the Jewish people for political purposes must stop immediately,” he added.

Lavrov made his assertion on Italian television on Sunday when asked why Russia said it needed to “discredit” Ukraine if the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was himself a Jew.

“When they say ‘What kind of annoyance is this if we are Jews,’ I think Hitler also has Jewish ancestry, so it means nothing,” Lavrov told RET4, speaking through an Italian translator.

He added: “For a long time we have heard the sages of the Jews say that the greatest anti-Semite are the Jews themselves.”

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Danny Dayan, head of Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, said the Russian minister’s comments were “an insult and a cruel blow to the true victims of Nazism.”

Speaking to Radio Cannes, Dayan said Lavrov was spreading “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that has no basis in reality”.

The identity of one of Hitler’s great-grandfathers is unknown but there has been some speculation, not supported by any evidence, that he may have been a Jew.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian embassy in Israel or from Lavrov in Moscow.

Kyiv condemned Lavrov’s words, saying his “hateful statements” were offensive to Zelensky, Israel, Ukraine and Jews.

“On a larger scale, they show that Russia today is full of hatred towards other countries,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, whose grandfather died in the Holocaust, said accusing Jews of anti-Semitism was “the lowest level of racism”. He also denied Lavrov’s assertion that pro-Nazi elements controlled the Ukrainian government and army.

“The Ukrainians are not Nazis. Only the Nazis are Nazis and they alone dealt with the systematic destruction of the Jewish people,” Lapid told the YNet news site.

A German government spokesman said the idea that Hitler had a Jewish heritage was “ridiculous” propaganda. Read more

Israel has repeatedly expressed its support for Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February. But fearing a strain in relations with Russia, which has influence in neighboring Syria, at first she avoided direct criticism of Moscow and did not impose official sanctions on the Russian oligarchy.

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But relations have grown tense, with Lapid last month accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

However, the Ukrainian president has also faced criticism in Israel by seeking comparisons between the conflict in his country and World War II. In a speech to the Israeli parliament in March, Zelensky compared the Russian attack in Ukraine to Nazi Germany’s plan to kill all Jews within its reach during World War II. Read more

Yad Vashem called his comments “irresponsible,” saying they insulted the historical facts of the Holocaust.

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Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Valentina Za in Milan, and Pavel Politiuk in Ukraine.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.