Russia fired back at Israel Tuesday, doubling down on comments made by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week and accusing Israel of backing neo-Nazism in the Ukraine.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, the Russian Foreign Ministry blasted Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), following Lapid’s condemnations Monday and Tuesday of Lavrov’s comments on Sunday comparing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Adolf Hitler and claiming Hitler had “Jewish blood”.
Moscow doubled down on Lavrov’s Nazi comparison, and accused Kyiv of ‘nurturing’ anti-Semitism.
"Antisemitism in everyday life and in politics is not stopped and is on the contrary nurtured” in Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called Lapid’s criticism of Lavrov “anti-historical”, and said they explained “to a large extent why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”
Shortly after the statement was issued, Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) fired back at Moscow, tweeting that “There is no neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine” Zelensky is not a neo-Nazi, and his Judaism has nothing to do with this. The Russian rhetoric which links the invasion of Ukraine with the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany, with comparisons to Hitler, is a terrible lie. Shameless propaganda which also dishonors the legacy of the Holocaust. Therefore, Israel backs the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine against the cruel Russian invasion.”
On Sunday, Lavrov compared Ukraine's Jewish president to Adolf Hitler, and suggested that Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
"The fact that Zelensky is Jewish does not deny the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood," Lavrov said.
"Zelensky can promote peace by stopping giving illegal orders to his Nazi soldiers."
On Monday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov for “clarification” on Lavrov’s comments.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid excoriated Lavrov in a statement Monday morning, calling his comments Sunday racist and anti-Semitic.
“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error. Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”
Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister, Dr. Nachman Shai (Labor), also castigated Lavrov over his comments, saying in a statement Monday: "No, Mr. Lavrov, Hitler did not have ‘Jewish Blood’, and repeating this abhorrent falsehood puts blame for the worst antisemitic crime in history on Jews. Blaming Jews for crimes against Jews is intrinsically antisemitic. You must retract these comments immediately."
On Tuesday, Lapid reiterated his condemnation of Lavrov, saying: "There was a very serious talk with the [Russian] Ambassador here, because that is unforgivable. That is blaming the Jews for the Holocaust itself. The Russian government needs to apologize to the Jews and the other victims."