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Israel wants apology from Russia over Hitler remark

Israel has summoned the Russian ambassador, after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that Adolf Hitler may have had some Jewish blood, and that the “most ardent” anti-Semites are Jews themselves.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted on Monday.

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“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”

Lapid said Israel expects an apology, and that the Russian ambassador was being summoned “for a tough talk.”

Other Israeli officials expressed outrage over Lavrov’s comments as well, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who accused Russia’s top diplomat of using the Holocaust “as a political tool.” The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem also denounced Lavrov’s words as false and dangerous. Moscow has not commented on the matter.

Speaking to Italy’s Mediaset media company on Sunday, Lavrov confirmed that one of the objectives of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine is the “denazification” of the country. A reporter mentioned that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish.

Lavrov replied: “I could be wrong, but Hitler, too, had Jewish blood in him. This means absolutely nothing. Wise Jewish people say the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews. Every family has a black sheep, as we like to say.”

Earlier in the interview, the minister pointed to Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, whose fighters include people with openly nationalist and Nazi views. He said captured fighters from Azov and other units display Nazi symbols on their uniforms and have swastika tattoos. They “openly read and promote ‘Mein Kampf,’” Lavrov added, referring to the book by Hitler.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador last month over Lapid’s “anti-Russian” comments regarding Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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