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Israel furious at Russian foreign minister over Hitler-Zelensky comparison

Sergei Lavrov's claim that Hitler had 'Jewish blood' has been branded an antisemitic conspiracy theory
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint press conference with his Eritrean counterpart following their talks in Moscow on 27 April 2022 (AFP)

Israel has reacted furiously to comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in which he compared Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Adolf Hitler and said they both had "Jewish blood".

Speaking to Italian media on Sunday, Lavrov criticised supporters of Ukraine dismissing Russia's oft-stated claim that its invasion is motivated by Kyiv being run by neo-Nazis.

He said Zelensky's defenders "puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish".

"I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood," added Lavrov.

"The wise Jewish people said that the most ardent antisemites are usually Jews. Every family has its black sheep, as we say.”

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described Lavrov's comments as "grave".

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"Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error," Lapid said.

"Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism."

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later also weighed in.

“Such lies are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history and thus free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility," he said, in comments relayed by Israeli media.

"No war today is the Holocaust or is like the Holocaust.”

The conspiracy theory that Hitler had Jewish heritage dates back to before the Second World War and stems from the fact that his paternal grandfather is unknown.

However, there is no evidence to support the theory that Hitler, who was responsible for the massacre of six million Jews in the Holocaust, was of Jewish descent.

Moscow has called its invasion of Ukraine, which it launched in February, an operation to "de-militarise" and "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

Russia has suffered significant military setbacks in Ukraine. Last week, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that about 15,000 Russian troops have died since the 24 February Russian invasion.

With its forces unable to capture the capital city of Kyiv, Moscow has turned its attention to a new offensive in the east and south of the country.

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