Israel demanded an apology from Russia on Monday, calling the Russian minister’s recent comments about Adolf Hitler and antisemitism an “outrageous statement and a terrible historic mistake.” In an interview with an Italian television show on Sunday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said he believed Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots and suggested Jewish people may be the worst anti-Semites.
Lavrov’s comments came after he was asked how Russia can claim to bewhen the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is Jewish.
“When they say ‘What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews,’ well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing,” Lavrov said through an Italian interpreter, according to Reuters.
According to Reuters, the idea that Hitler may have had Jewish roots comes from a speculation — which has not been backed by evidence — that he had a grandfather who may have been Jewish.
Lavrov also said that “For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves,” Reuters reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett denounced the comments in a statement, saying the use of the Holocaust as a “political tool” must stop immediately.
“Such lies are intended to accuse the Jews themselves of the most horrific crimes in history that were committed against them,” he added.
The country’s foreign minister Yair Lapid told the Israeli news site Ynet that the Russian ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, would be summoned to discuss the remarks.
“This is an unforgivable and outrageous statement and a terrible historic mistake and we expect an apology,” Lapid said.
Lavrov’s remarks also drew criticism from Germany, which called his remarks “absurd” propaganda.
Ukraine also criticized his comments, calling them offensive to Israel, Ukraine and Jewish people.
“More broadly, they demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.