AA / Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Herzog has demanded an apology from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for comments made about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewishness and his ties to Nazism.
In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, published on Wednesday, Herzog said, referring to Lavrov’s statements: “The truth is that I reread it several times. At first, I did not believe that the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs said so.”
“You have made me angry and inspired disgust (…) Among all the weeks, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has chosen the week when we remember the Holocaust, to spread the terrible lies that have hints of anti-Semitism. I expect him to reverse his words and apologize,” added the Israeli president.
Herzog said he “does not believe Lavrov’s statements will harm bilateral relations, but they threaten to cast a shadow.” “It is necessary and appropriate that he rectifies these statements,” he said, referring to Lavrov.
The Israel Broadcasting Corporation said Monday that Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with an Italian television channel: “The fact that the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish does not mean the non-existence of Nazi elements in his country, and I could be wrong, but Adolf Hitler also had Jewish blood”.
Reacting to the remarks, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid blasted that “Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both unforgivable and outrageous, but also a terrible historical error.”
However, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday: “History unfortunately knows tragic examples of cooperation between Jews and Nazis, in Poland and other countries in Eastern Europe. East, German industrialists appointed Jews to head Jewish ghettos and councils, some of whom are known for their most brutal acts”.
The same statement notes that the Jewish origin of the Ukrainian president is no guarantee against the spread of neo-Nazism in Ukraine.
Former Knesset member Ksenia Svetlova said in an article in the Haaretz newspaper on Wednesday that “Russia’s anti-Semitic attack on Israel is shocking and deliberate.”
“Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statements against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Jews and Hitler were not a slip. It was part of a deliberate campaign targeting Israel,” she said.
“While Israel hoped to continue to conciliate both Russia and Ukraine, Moscow seems to expect nothing less than complete obedience, and even then the Kremlin will continue to use the Jewish map of manner that best suits his interests”.
Israel mediated between Russia and Ukraine at the start of the crisis without achieving results.
On February 24, Russia started a war in Ukraine, which sparked strong international reactions and the imposition of “severe” economic and financial sanctions against Moscow. To end the war, Russia demands that Ukraine renounce all hints of joining military entities and maintain total neutrality, which kyiv considers an “interference in its sovereignty”.
* Translated from Arabic by Mounir Bennour.
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