Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian chief rabbi: ‘It would be nice’ if Lavrov apologized for Hitler comments

Rabbi Berel Lazar, viewed as having close ties with Putin, calls Lavrov's provocative remarks 'shocking' and asked him to 'admit he was mistaken' in order to 'turn the page'

Cnaan Liphshiz / JTA |
Published: 05.04.22, 12:36
Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar has criticized remarks by his country’s foreign minister, who suggested that the worst anti-Semites were Jewish and that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
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  • Lazar’s forthright criticism of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks Sunday — he called them “shocking” and said he wished Lavrov would apologize — is unusual in Russia, where other clergy have been supportive of the war in Ukraine and where dissent is largely illegal.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    פוטין ראש השנה הרב הראשי רוסיה ברל לזר
    פוטין ראש השנה הרב הראשי רוסיה ברל לזר
    Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Russian President Vladimir Putin
    (Photo: AFP)
    Widely viewed as having close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lazar and the organization he leads, the Chabad Lubavitch-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, have expressed displeasure with the war while refraining from criticizing the Putin regime directly over it.
    “I do not consider myself entitled to give advice to the head of Russian diplomacy — but it would be nice if he apologized to the Jews and simply admitted that he was mistaken,” Lazar wrote in a reply to a request for comment.
    “I think it would then be possible to consider the incident settled and turn the page,” Lazar added.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar
    Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar
    Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar
    (Photo: Ran Boker)
    Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry doubled down on the controversial remarks amid a diplomatic row about them with Israel, adding to a growing number of signs that Lavrov’s comments could mark a turning point for Israeli leaders who previously had not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the same force as other world leaders.
    “We paid attention to the anti-historical statements of the head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry @yairlapid , which largely explain the course of the current Israeli Government support of the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv,” Russia’s ministry tweeted.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    סרגיי לברוב, יאיר לפיד
    סרגיי לברוב, יאיר לפיד
    Yair Lapid and Sergey Lavrov
    (Photo: Shaul Golan, AFP)
    Lavrov’s remarks appeared to be an attempt to reconcile the fact that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish, with Russia’s declared reason for the Feb. 24 invasion. Putin said Ukraine was in need of “denazification.”
    “When they say that Nazification cannot exist if there are Jews [in charge]: In my opinion even Hitler had Jewish origins so it means absolutely nothing,” Lavrov told Italy’s Channel 4 on Sunday. “Jewish wise people said already a long time ago that the biggest anti-Semites are Jewish themselves.”
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Lavrov and Bennett
    Lavrov and Bennett
    Lavrov and Bennett
    (Photo: AP, EPA)
    Bennett’s comments were notable because he has held back from criticizing Russia sharply even as Lapid has struck a more forceful tone, a balancing act that is widely understood as meant to allow Israel, which has strategic interests with Russia, to maintain a degree of neutrality.
    But as the war grinds on, that neutrality may be eroding: Israel is sending more defensive weapons and aid to Ukraine, and Russia, isolated internationally, is increasingly engaging with Iran, Israel’s nemesis. Lavrov’s comments represent another breach.
    On Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry accused Israel of supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” for protesting Lavrov’s rhetoric.
    Lazar said it was “inappropriate to draw any comparisons” between the Holocaust and current affairs. Referring to the role that Soviet forces played in defeating the Nazis, said that such a comparison “belittles the achievement of these heroic soldiers who liberated Auschwitz and hoisted the banner of victory over the Reichstag.”

    Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.
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