Russia’s veteran foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has sparked a furious response from Israel after wrongly claiming that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
Lavrov made the comments in an interview with Italian media after being asked how Russia could justify its invasion of Ukraine on a pretext of “de-Nazification” when Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish.
“So what if Zelenskyy is Jewish? The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov told “Zona Bianca” on Sunday. “Some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews,” he added. The unfounded theory that Hitler’s grandfather may have been Jewish originates from unproven claims by a Nazi-era lawyer and has been debunked by mainstream historians.
Israel’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded an apology in response to Lavrov’s interview.
"Such lies are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history and thus free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. "No war today is the Holocaust or is like the Holocaust."
Dani Dayan, chair of Israel’s Holocaust remembrance centre Yad Vashem, said that Lavrov’s remarks were “absurd, dangerous and deserve of condemnation.”
Israel has a large Russian population and while it has expressed support for the plight of Ukrainian civilians in the war it has not imposed sanctions on Russia following the invasion, and has tried to act as a mediator. But Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Lavrov’s comments about Hitler’s ancestry “unforgivable.”