Putin makes joke about Jews and money during Crimea visit


(JTA) — Russian President Vladimir Putin made a joke invoking the anti-Semitic trope about Jews and money during a visit to Crimea.

During a visit with local residents and religious leaders on Monday, a local Jewish leader made a comment about financial difficulties.

“So the Jews have problems with finances!” Putin replied. “Only such a thing could happen in Crimea.”

He also said “todah rabah,” Hebrew for “thank you very much,” to the bearded, black-hatted Jewish man.

The exchange was first reported in English in a tweet by Washington Post Moscow correspondent Anie Ferris-Rotman, who included a video.

Also Monday in Crimea, Putin proposed inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the opening of a synagogue in Sevastopol after offering to invite President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to the opening of a Crimean mosque.

Putin also said that the Jewish community in Russia was making a large contribution to his country’s development.

“I hope that Jews in Crimea will play the same positive role,” he said. “Judaism is also among our traditional denominations, traditional religions, and I am very pleased that religious life is developing here in Crimea.”

Some 10,000 Jews live in Crimea, and the community has been deeply supportive of Russian annexation of the peninsula.

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