WASHINGTON (JTA) — Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader and the most senior elected Jewish official in U.S. history, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s claims that Hitler had Jewish blood and that Jews were prone to antisemitism were “sickening.”
“As the Russian army continues slaughtering civilians, Foreign Minister Lavrov did what many others who now reside in the dustbin of history have done before him — resort to antisemitism to defend his nation’s actions,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Monday on the Senate floor.
Schumer joined the near-universal condemnation of Lavrov’s remarks from Israeli leaders, Jewish groups and Holocaust remembrance institutions.
Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin have sought to neutralize outrage at the war they are waging in Ukraine by claiming their mission is to remove “Nazis” from power. Most of the world’s skepticism of that claim is bolstered by the fact the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish.
Lavrov, confronted with that information on Italian TV, said he said he believed Adolf Hitler also had Jewish origins. He further claimed that Jews themselves say that other Jews can be the biggest antisemites.
“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 said. “Jewish wise people said already a long time ago that the biggest antisemites are Jewish themselves.”
Schumer, who has said Russia is committing a “holocaust” in Ukraine, said he was sickened by Lavrov’s remarks.
“Mr. Lavrov’s comments are just sickening and deserve to be condemned by all who oppose the dangers of antisemitism,” Schumer said. “They tap into the very old and very poisonous notion that the Jewish people themselves were the architects of the worst human atrocities of modern history, even when they were aimed at Jews themselves.”