Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has stirred up a fresh controversy by comparing Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the German dictator Adolf Hitler. He said both Zelenskyy and Hitler were Nazis and had “Jewish blood” in them.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, slammed the Russian Foreign Minister, saying that his comments were “unforgivable, outrageous, and a historical mistake.” He said that “Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust.” The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.
The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine quoted Lavrov as saying: “Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewishness does not negate his Nazism. Adolf Hitler also had Jewish blood. “
Israel on Monday lashed out at Russia over “unforgivable” comments by its foreign minister about Nazism and antisemitism — including claims that Adolf Hitler was Jewish. Israel, which summoned the Russian ambassador in response, said the remarks blamed Jews for their own murder in the Holocaust.
In some of the harshest remarks since the start of the war in Ukraine, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Lavrov’s statement “unforgivable and scandalous, and a horrible historical error.”
In a statement, it said, “Lavrov is propagating the inversion of the Holocaust—turning the victims into criminals on the basis of promoting the completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent.”
Nazism has featured prominently in Russia’s war aims and narrative as it fights in Ukraine. In his bid to legitimise the war against 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.
For Israel, the Holocaust is central to its national ethos, and it has positioned itself at the centre of global efforts to remember the Holocaust and combat anti-Semitism.
In a speech to Israeli legislators in March, Zelenskyy compared Russia’s invasion of his country to the actions of Nazi Germany, accusing Putin of trying to carry out a “final solution” against Ukraine. The comparisons drew an angry condemnation from Yad Vashem, which said Zelenskyy was trivialising the Holocaust.