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Israel: Vladimir Putin apologised for Lavrov remarks

The minister made the remarks with an Italian TV journalist who asked him why Russia claimed to be 'denazifying' Ukraine when President Zelensky was Jewish

Isabel Kershner And Ivan Nechepurenko Published 06.05.22, 03:07 AM
Lavrov and Putin.

Lavrov and Putin. File photo

The Israeli government said on Thursday that President Vladimir V. Putin apologised to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel for remarks by Russia’s top diplomat that Jews were “the biggest antisemites”.

The Kremlin acknowledged that Putin discussed the Holocaust with Bennett, but did not mention an apology.


The Israeli government said that the leaders discussed the comments, by foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, which drew condemnation from Bennett and provoked a strong backlash among Jews in Israel and beyond.

“The Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying his attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” it said.

After Lavrov’s remarks, Israel’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Israel to explain Lavrov’s remarks, and the Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, demanded an apology.

Lavrov made the remarks in an interview on Sunday with an Italian television journalist who asked him why Russia claimed to be “denazifying” Ukraine when the Ukrainian President, Zelensky, was Jewish.

Lavrov replied that he thought Hitler himself had Jewish roots, a claim dismissed by historians, and added, “For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest antisemites are the Jews themselves.”

Bennett later said that he viewed the remarks with the “utmost severity”, saying they were “untrue and their intentions are wrong”.

He added, “The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them, and thereby absolve Israel’s enemies of responsibility.”

Separately, Lapid said that Lavrov’s comments were “both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error”.

“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” he added. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.” The Israeli government’s response was among the fiercest criticism it has leveled at the Russian government.

New York Times News Service

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