Russia Slams Israeli Gov’t for Supporting Ukrainian Neo-Nazis Amid Diplomatic Flap Over Zelensky
12:23 GMT 03.05.2022 (Updated: 13:00 GMT 03.05.2022)
Israel summoned the Russian ambassador to Tel Aviv and accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of “racism” on Monday. The scandal blew up after Lavrov remarked that Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that there is no neo-Nazi threat in Ukraine because the Ukrainian president is Jewish was a fallacy, since even Adolf Hitler may have had Jewish blood.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a rebuttal to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid over his attack on Sergei Lavrov, educating the country’s authorities on the problem of neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism in contemporary Ukraine.
“We took note of the anti-historical statements of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, which largely explain the course of the current Israeli government in supporting the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev”, the Foreign Ministry wrote in an unsigned piece published Tuesday and titled "On Anti-Semitism".
“The Israeli minister said the following: ‘The Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The basest level of racism against Jews is to blame the Jews themselves for anti-Semitism’”, the ministry noted.
“For some reason, the Western media (and some of our liberals) continue to argue about whether there are neo-Nazis in Ukraine. One of the ‘watertight’ arguments used is the Jewish origin of Volodymyr Zelensky. This argument is not only untenable, but also false. History, unfortunately, knows of tragic examples of cooperation between Jews and Nazis. In Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe, the Germans appointed Jewish industrialists as the heads of ghettos and Jewish councils (‘Judenrats’)".
"Some of these are remembered for absolutely monstrous deeds. In Warsaw, [ghetto administrator] Jakub Lejkin surveilled the Jews and reported everything to the German occupation administration, dooming compatriots to certain, sometimes painful death. [Lodz ghetto administrator] Chaim Rumkowski suggested that the Jews of Lodz give their children to the Nazis to save the lives of the adult residents of the ghetto”, the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled.
The Foreign Ministry agreed with Tel Aviv University Professor Havi Dreifuss’ conclusions that the Jews’ involvement in their own persecution during the Holocaust was a “marginal phenomenon”, but certainly not a taboo
, and the subject of serious academic research.
The “historical tragedy” of the ongoing Ukraine crisis is that “if during the Second World War, some Jews were forced to participate in crimes, V. Zelensky, who speculates on his [Jewish] roots, does so consciously and voluntarily. He hides behind his origins and uses them to cover up genuine neo-Nazis – the spiritual and blood heirs to the executioners of his people”, the Foreign Ministry stressed.
A president with Jewish roots is no guarantee of protection against rampant neo-Nazism, Moscow noted, pointing out that along with Ukraine, Latvia has also experienced
problems with this phenomenon – with Jewish President Egils Levits covering up the rehabilitation of Waffen SS volunteers in his country.
“Do Lapid and his Cabinet not see this? Just as they cynically ignore the epidemic of the destruction and desecration of monuments to the true righteous among the nations – the troops of the Red Army who stopped the Holocaust and saved the Jewish world. How many times has the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Poland, Bulgaria, the Baltic countries, or Ukraine itself to express their sharp protest over such actions?” the ministry asked.
Moscow suggested that Mr Lapid and the Israeli government have shown blindness to Zelensky’s role in "completing" a scenario famously described by Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller after the Second World War. “In Ukraine in 2014, first they came for the communists, then for the socialists, then the entire ‘civilized world’ was silent when Russians were ‘abolished’. Is there a lack of imagine to understand which ‘non-indigenous’ people will ‘go on the knives’ and ‘[be hanged] on a tree branch’ after the ‘Moskals’ [Russians]?” the rebuttal stressed.
The Foreign Ministry also recalled that while Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist parties began promoting their anti-Semitic agendas immediately after the collapse of the USSR, this tendency became particularly active in recent years, with the ultra-right Svoboda Party, listed by the World Jewish Congress as a neo-Nazi organisation, taking fourth place in the elections of 2012. In 2017, Naftali Bennett – then serving as Israel’s diaspora affairs minister, worryingly reported that anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine, including the vandalism of museums, synagogues, and memorials, had “doubled”
“Eduard Dolinsky, a prominent representative of the Jewish movement in Ukraine, recently expressed fears about the termination of the activities of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee. Torchlight processions with portraits of [WWII-era fascist collaborator] Stepan Bandera through the streets of Kiev with the slogans ‘Get out Jude’ as well as ‘Death to the Jews’ inscribed on synagogues by vandals speak for themselves”, Moscow suggested.
The law "On Preventing and Combating Anti-Semitism in Ukraine" signed by Zelensky in 2020 has not helped matters, according to the Foreign Ministry, with “run-of-the mill and political anti-Semitism and Nazism not only not suppressed, but on the contrary, nurtured. Authorities and law enforcement agencies calmly observe the anti-Jewish cries at the Bandera marches, all because the Kiev regime is confident of its infallibility. This type of ‘state construction’ is particularly immoral for a country which lost 1.5 million people of Jewish origin during the Holocaust, and whose capital has a memorial to those who died at Babi Yar”, the ministry concluded.
Foreign Minister Lavrov sparked a diplomatic flap with Israel on Sunday after he told an Italian television channel that Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that there was no problem with neo-Nazism in Ukraine was a lie, and that the Ukrainian president’s Jewish blood “means absolutely nothing” when it comes to characterising the nature of his regime, since even Adolf Hitler may have had some Jewish blood. “The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews. ‘Every family has its black sheep’, as we say”, Lavrov said.
The foreign minister’s comments sparked an outcry in Israel
, with Prime Minister Bennett saying that “lies like these are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history,” and Foreign Minister Lapid calling Lavrov’s remarks “unforgivable and outrageous, and a terrible historic mistake”.
The subject of Hitler’s possible Jewish blood has been heavily debated by historians
since the publication of the memoirs of Hans Frank, the Fuhrer’s personal attorney, in the early 1950s. Frank claimed Hitler’s paternal grandfather was a Jewish man from Graz, Austria, and that this fact was covered up by the Nazis during their reign.