Monday, 16 May 2022 - 15 of Iyyar, 5782

Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for Lavrov’s remarks on the Holocaust

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“The Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying his attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Office said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had apologized to Bennett for the comments of his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, about the Holocaust.

Lavrov caused outrage earlier this week after he was asked on Italian TV how Russia could claim to be “de-Nazifying” Ukraine when its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish.

Lavrov replied: “I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. That Zelensky is Jewish means absolutely nothing. Wise Jewish people say that the most rabid anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

Israeli politicians and world leaders reacted with fury to the suggestion that the Jews were responsible for their own victimization in the Holocaust. Bennett said that the “use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political tool must cease immediately” and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slammed Lavrov’s words as “unforgivable and outrIsrael ageous.”

However, Russia’s foreign ministry doubled down by asserting that the uproar explained “to a large extent why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”

In a phone conversation days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for Lavrov’s remarks, according to Bennett’s office.

“The Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying his attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said.

However, the Israeli statement did not quote Putin’s apology directly, while a Kremlin readout of the phone call made no mention of an apology, rather stressing that Russia and Israel shared the same commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. The Russian statement also highlighted the forthcoming “Victory Day” on Monday, which marks the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Putin is widely expected to use May 9 as a propaganda opportunity, possibly by declaring victory in Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin and Naftali Bennett emphasized the special significance of this date for the peoples of both countries, who carefully preserve the historical truth about the events of those years and honor the memory of all the fallen, including victims of the Holocaust,” the Russian statement said.

“The President of Russia recalled that out of the six million Jews tortured in ghettos and concentration camps, killed by the Nazis during punitive operations, 40 percent were citizens of the USSR, and asked to convey wishes of health and well-being to the veterans living in Israel,” the Russian statement added.

Bennett’s office aslo said that in the phone conversation, Putin congratulated Bennett on the occasion of Israel’s Independence Day.“Mutual interest was expressed in the further development of friendly Russian-Israeli relations and the maintenance of useful contacts between the leadership of the two countries,” the statement continued.

In the wake of the war in Ukraine, the Israeli Prime Minister presented the President with a humanitarian request to examine various options for evacuation from Azovstal in Mariupol. The request came as a result of Bennett’s conversation one day earlier  with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

‘’President Putin promised to allow the evacuation of civilians, including wounded civilians, through a UN and Red Cross humanitarian corridor,’’ Bennett’s office said.

European Commission Vice-President  Margaritis Schinas has expressed his outrage stating that any attempt to distort the historical facts related to the Holocaust is unacceptable.

“These comments perpetuate the outrageous narrative on “denazification” of Ukraine, they are factually false, distort and trivialise the Holocaust – the genocide of 6 million Jews. Any attempt to turn the victims of the Shoah into perpetrators is unacceptable,” said Schinas.

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