A bizarre and severe diplomatic dispute filled with over the top rhetoric broke out between Israel and Russia at the start of this week when Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov asserted that Adolf Hitler had "Jewish Blood".
This has led to Israel demanding an official apology and retraction of the statement, which appeared intended by Lavrov to deflect when pressed on why President Putin has repeatedly said Ukraine is in the grip of neo-Nazis when its president Volodymyr Zelensky is himself Jewish.
It all started during an interview Lavrov did with Italian TV on Sunday, but which was quickly picked up in international press. US and European officials have also expressed outrage.
"As to [Zelenskiy’s] argument of what kind of nazification can we have if I’m Jewish, if I remember correctly, and I may be wrong, Hitler also had Jewish blood," Lavrov said when asked about the Kremlin's 'denazification' justification for its invasion. "It doesn’t mean anything at all," he added.
Lavrov went on to explain that the “most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews.” Moscow for its part has been outraged that for years Western media and politicians have been cheerleading far-right nationalist groups in Ukraine that have long been widely acknowledged as neo-Nazi in ideology, also often unashamedly flashing swastikas for cameras. Lavrov said the following:
“We have for a long time listened to the wise Jewish people who say that the most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews,” and added, “There is no family without a monster.”
Israel quickly summoned the Russian ambassador Monday and demanded an apology over the statements.
Western press has also reacted fiercely to the statement...
"Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust."— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 3, 2022
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slams his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for alleging Adolf Hitler may have "had Jewish blood" https://t.co/LQ2Awwk3eM pic.twitter.com/zEiSIShQmn
But Russia instead doubled-down, charging Israel with in effect supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” in fresh Tuesday statements.
According to more from Russia's foreign ministry:
On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry charged "the Jewish origins of the president (Zelensky) is not a guarantee of protection against rampant neo-Nazism in the country."
"Ukraine, may it be said in passing, is not the only one in this case," the Ministry said, citing Latvian President Egils Levits who "has also Jewish roots and he also gives cover... to the rehabilitation of the Waffen SS in his country."
Russia now going head to head with Israel https://t.co/rCDaXhEJzB— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 3, 2022
Israel's Foreign Minister Lapid had earlier on Monday called Lavrov’s "remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error," and the controversy reached Prime Minister Bennett's office, who called Lavrov's remarks "lies."