Israel condemns Russian foreign minister for claiming Hitler was Jewish
Israel has condemned Russia after its foreign minister suggested that Adolf Hitler was Jewish.
Sergei Lavrov made the controversial comments after he was asked about Russian claims that it invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the country.
Mr Lavrov said that Ukraine could still have Nazi elements even if some figures such as President Volodymyr Zelensky were Jewish.
“So when they say ‘How can Nazification exist if we’re Jewish?’ In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything.
“For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest anti-Semites were Jewish,” he said, speaking to a news station in Russian.
However, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hit back at the “unforgivable” remarks which he called a “horrible historical error”.
“The Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” Mr Lapid said. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is to blame Jews themselves for antisemitism.”
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.”
Nazism has featured prominently in Russia’s war aims and narrative as it fights in Ukraine.
In his bid to legitimise 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.
Ukraine also condemned Lavrov’s remarks.
“By trying to rewrite history, Moscow is simply looking for arguments to justify the mass murders of Ukrainians,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Lavrov’s remarks exposed the “deeply-rooted anti-Semitism of the Russian elites.”