Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday responded with outrage to his Russian counterpart’s claim on Sunday that Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that “some of the worst antisemites are Jews.”
“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” Lapid stated. “Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”
“We expect an apology,” Lapid told Ynet. “It enrages me not only as foreign minister but also as my father’s son who was forced into the Budapest ghetto. He was not put there by Jews. He was put there by Nazis.”
“The Nazis persecuted the Jews and killed six million of them. Ukrainians were not Nazis. Only the Nazis were Nazis and they conducted a systematic eradication of the Jewish people.”
Lapid summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov for a “clarification” discussion.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai demanded that Lavrov “immediately” retract his statements.
“Hitler did not have ‘Jewish blood’ and repeating this abhorrent falsehood place blame for the worst antisemitic crime in history on Jews,” he said. “Blaming Jews for crimes against Jews is intrinsically antisemitic.”
Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem called the remarks “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,” it said in a statement.
“Equally serious is calling the Ukrainians in general, and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy in particular, Nazis. This, among other things, is a complete distortion of the history and an affront to the victims of Nazism.”
Claims that Hitler had Jewish blood is a common conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly discredited by historians.
Asked in an interview on Sunday with an Italian news channel about Russian claims that it invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the country, Sergey Lavrov said that Ukraine could still have Nazi elements even if some figures, including the country’s president, were Jewish.
“So when they say ‘How can Nazification exist if we’re Jewish?’ Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything. For some time we have heard that the biggest antisemites were Jewish,” he said, speaking to the station in Russian, dubbed over by an Italian translation.
Nazism has featured prominently in Russia’s war aims and narrative as it fights in Ukraine. In his bid to legitimize the war to Russian citizens, President Vladimir Putin has portrayed the battle as a struggle against Nazis in Ukraine, even though the country has a democratically elected government and a Jewish president whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust.
World War II, in which the Soviet Union lost an estimated 27 million people and helped defeat Nazi Germany, is a linchpin of Russia’s national identity. Repeatedly reaching for the historical narrative that places Russia as a savior against evil forces has helped the Kremlin rally Russians around the war.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)