JERUSALEM, May 2 (Reuters) – Israel slammed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday for claiming Adolf Hitler was of Jewish ancestry, calling it a demeaning Holocaust terror “Unforgivable” lies.
In a sign of a sharp deterioration in relations with Moscow, Israel’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded an apology.
“These lies are aimed at accusing the Jews themselves of committing the most horrific crimes committed against them in history,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
“The use of the Holocaust for political purposes must stop immediately,” he added.
Lavrov made the statement on Italian television on Sunday, when he was asked why Russia said it needed to let Ukraine if the country’s own president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was himself a Jew. “De-Nazification”.
“When they say, ‘If we were Jewish, what kind of Nazism would this be’, I think Hitler also had Jewish blood, so it doesn’t make any sense,” Lavrov told Rete 4 through an Italian translator.
“For a long time we have been hearing from sensible Jews that the greatest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves,” he added.
Dani Dayan, president of the Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, said the Russian minister’s remarks were “an insult and a serious blow to the real victims of Nazism”.
Dayan, speaking on Kan radio, said Lavrov was spreading “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that has no basis in fact.”
The identity of one of Hitler’s grandfathers is not known, but there has been speculation that he may have been Jewish, but this has never been supported by any evidence.
The Russian embassy in Israel or Lavrov in Moscow did not immediately respond to comment.
Kyiv condemned Lavrov’s remarks, saying his “outrageous remarks” offended Zelensky, Israel, Ukraine and Jews.
“More broadly, they show that today’s Russia is full of hatred for other countries,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on Twitter.
Israel’s foreign ministry Yair Lapid, whose grandfather died in the Holocaust, said accusing Jews of being anti-Semitic was “the most vile form of racism”. He also dismissed Lavrov’s claims that pro-Nazis controlled the Ukrainian government and military.
“Ukrainians are not Nazis. Only Nazis are Nazis, only they have dealt with the systematic destruction of Jews,” Lapid told YNet news site.
A German government spokesman said the idea that Hitler had Jewish ancestry was “ridiculous” propaganda.read more
Following the Russian invasion in February, Israel has repeatedly expressed support for Ukraine. But it initially avoided direct criticism of Moscow and refrained from imposing formal sanctions on the Russian oligarchs, fearing tensions with Russia, the power broker in neighboring Syria.
Relations have become more strained, however, with Rapide last month accusing Russia of war crimes in Ukraine.
However, the Ukrainian president has also come under fire in Israel for trying to draw parallels between his country’s conflict and World War II. In a speech to the Knesset in March, Zelensky likened Russia’s offensive in Ukraine to Nazi Germany’s plan to murder all Jews within its reach during World War II.read more
Yad Vashem called his comments “irresponsible”, saying they downplayed the historical facts of the Holocaust.
Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Valentina Za in Milan and Pavel Polityuk in Ukraine Edited by Jeffrey Heller and Bernadette Baum by Crispian Balmer
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