Israel on Monday denounced Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for suggesting that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots and that Jews are among the worst antisemites. Israel has demanded an apology from Moscow The Trumpet gathered.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Russian ambassador for “a tough talk” over the comments, which Lavrov made on Sunday in an interview with Italian television.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Israel has sought to keep a delicate balance between the two sides, but remarks by the Russian foreign minister to an Italian channel sparked anger in Israel.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Lavrov had made “an unforgivable, scandalous statement.”
Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, with sirens blaring out across the country to commemorate the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.
The comments by Russia’s foreign minister came as he reaffirmed Moscow’s stance that his country’s invasion of Ukraine is aimed at freeing the country from Nazis.
Moscow has previously said it wants to “de-militarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
During an interview with an Italian news channel, Lavrov was asked how Russia could say it needed to “denazify” Ukraine, when the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was Jewish.
“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
“For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves,” he added.
Lapid, in a statement from the foreign ministry on the “grave remarks”, condemned Lavrov’s comments.
“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” Lapid said.
“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”
Israel’s foreign ministry “has summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel for a clarification meeting,” the statement added.
Dani Dayan, director of the Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, also criticised Lavrov’s statement, calling them “unfounded, delusional and dangerous remarks which deserve to be condemned.
In a speech to the Israeli parliament in March, Ukrainian President called on Israel to “make a choice” by supporting Ukraine against Russia and asked the Jewish state to provide them with weapons.
Israel has however provided helmets and bulletproof vests to Ukrainian rescue workers but has not supplied the country with weapons.