Israel: Vladimir Putin Apologized for Foreign Minister’s ‘Jewish Hitler’ Claim  

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has apologized to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for his foreign minister’s claims Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood, Israel said on Thursday. “The prime minister accepted the apology of President Putin for comments by [Russian Foreign Miniser Sergei] Lavrov and thanked him for clarifying the president’s view of the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said. It was a rare move on the part of the Russian leader, who may have feared that Israel would change its relative neutral stance towards its ally on the war in Ukraine. While the Kremlin did not mention an apology specifically, it affirmed Putin spoke with Bennett about the “historic memory” of the Holocaust. Lavrov’s comments sparked the largest rift in Russia-Israel relations in years. In remarks made to Italian TV, Lavrov said earlier this week that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewishness did not negate his country’s Nazi elements. “When they say ‘What sort of denazification is this if we are Jews’, well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing,” he said. “For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves,” he added. His comments sparked outrage in Israel, with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid describing them as “unforgivable” and calling for Russia to apologize to the Jews in memory of those murdered at the hands of the Nazis. “It is unforgivable, unforgivable, to blame Jews for their own Holocaust. Hitler was not Jewish and Jews did not murder my grandfather in Mauthausen. The Nazis did it, and all of these comparisons to the Nazis are unforgivable and maddening,” he said, after summoning the Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov for a “tough conversation” over the incendiary remarks.

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