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Russia Cited These Jewish Experts in Ukraine 'Nazi' Smear. Now They Respond

After Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called Ukraine a Nazi state, his ministry quoted research by Jewish experts to support that claim. Those experts tell Haaretz they're angry, and disgusted, by Moscow's propaganda



Sam Sokol May 4, 2022


Two prominent Jewish experts on Eastern European antisemitism lambasted the Russian government after it cited their work in defense of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s claim that Ukraine is a Nazi state.


In an interview with Italian media on Sunday, Lavrov claimedthat the Jewishness of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not negate Ukraine's Nazi elements, repeating the conspiracy theory that Nazi Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler also “had Jewish blood" and adding, "The most ardent antisemites are usually Jews.”


After backlash from Israel, Russia doubled down in a statement that cited Israeli Holocaust historian Havi Dreifuss and Ukrainian Jewish activist Eduard Dolinsky in purported support for its claims.


The ministry pointed to Dreifuss' 2018 statement to Haaretz regarding Jews coerced into collaborating with the Nazis as part of local Judenrat (Jewish councils), adding, "What makes this tragic, from a historical perspective, is that during World War II some Jews were forced to take part in perpetrating crimes, while Vladimir Zelensky has been speculating on his roots in all consciousness and quite voluntarily. He has been using his origins as a cover-up for himself."


"I was dismayed and stupefied by this attempt to use and abuse my remarks given in a different context, but I am much more disturbed by the false words of high Russian officials accusing Jews of Hitler’s crimes and spreading false information about Jews and the Holocaust.”

Dr. Dreifuss, a Tel Aviv University professor who is affiliated with Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, called the statement "factually baseless" and said the citation "was taken out of context, thus negating its original meaning." She said she was not consulted before Russia quoted her and that it was using her name and reputation to "legitimize the false discourse on Nazism."


“The attempt to hold Jews responsible for their own deaths is a fundamental violation of historical truth and an antisemitic statement," added Dreifuss. "I was dismayed and stupefied by this attempt to use and abuse my remarks given in a different context, but I am much more disturbed by the false words of high Russian officials accusing Jews of Hitler’s crimes and spreading false information about Jews and the Holocaust.”


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