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Russia’s foreign minister outrages Jewish community on eve of his visit to South Africa

Russia’s foreign minister outrages Jewish community on eve of his visit to South Africa
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kith Serey)

Ukrainian expatriates in South Africa will demonstrate against Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with his South African counterpart on Monday.

The European Jewish Congress (EJC)  has expressed “shock and concern” about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comparing Western governments’ support for Ukraine to Hitler’s extermination of six million Jews in the Holocaust.

Lavrov is to visit South Africa to meet his counterpart Naledi Pandor on Monday, at the start of a southern African tour with further stops in Eswatini, Botswana and Angola, according to official sources. Pretoria has confirmed the meeting with Pandor, but Moscow had not announced Lavrov’s trip by late Thursday. 

The Ukrainian community in South Africa announced on Thursday that it had organised a demonstration at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria to protest against Pandor’s meeting with “Putin’s liar-in-chief” Lavrov. 

Lavrov made the remark, which incensed the international Jewish community, at a press conference in Moscow on Monday. He said the US had put together a coalition of European states to wage a proxy war in Ukraine to solve the “Russian question” in the same way that Hitler had organised a Final Solution for Europe’s Jews.

‘Holocaust distortion’

“We are shocked and appalled by this shameful comparison drawn by Minister Lavrov between the actions of a coalition of democratic countries and Hitler’s persecution and murder of six million Jews in the Shoah [Holocaust],” EJC President Ariel Muzicant said in a statement.

“This is Holocaust distortion at its most basic level and we call on Mr Lavrov to unequivocally apologise and withdraw these comments,” he added.

In a rambling three-hour press conference billed to address Russia’s diplomacy in 2022, Lavrov largely devoted himself to justifying Russia’s war against Ukraine, reiterating many of Moscow’s talking points,  including that the West had for many years been working to create a “police-run Nazi state” in Ukraine.

“Like Napoleon, who mobilised nearly all of Europe against the Russian Empire, and Hitler, who occupied the majority of European countries and hurled them at the Soviet Union, the United States has created a coalition of nearly all European member states of Nato and the EU and is using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against Russia with the old aim of finally solving the Russian question, like Hitler, who sought a final solution to the Jewish question,” Lavrov said 

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“This is not the first time the minister has used Holocaust equivalence and Hitler references,” Musicant pointed out. “This must stop. As we mark in the coming days International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day that the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the memory of Holocaust victims must never be used in such an appalling manner.”

In March last year, Lavrov first outraged the Jewish community, including the Israeli government, when he claimed that Hitler “had Jewish blood”.

He said this on Italian TV to try to justify Russia’s portrayal of Ukraine as a “Nazi” state despite the fact that its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish.

“I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said and so it “means absolutely nothing” that Zelensky is Jewish. “Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

Israel called in Russia’s ambassador to protest at this remark and Israel’s then prime minister, Naftali Bennett said: “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.”

Protest rally

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Association of South Africa announced that it would hold “a peaceful yet noticeable rally at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, to once again draw media and public attention to the lies and terror of the Russian government, and the fact that any alignment with Russia’s terrorist regime and their henchmen is politically and economically dangerous, as well as morally unacceptable”.

It said the rally would start at 7am on Monday at the Soutpansberg Road entrance of Dirco’s OR Tambo Building in Pretoria. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • david clegg clegg says:

    The Russian (and previously Soviet) default position on stuff they don’t like is to unpack a deep-seated persecution complex. It runs like a thread from (at least) Stalin’s correspondence with Churchill in the second world war, through Kruschev (with Kennedy) and Brezhnov, to Putin and Lavrov. The only one not infected with it seems to have been Gorbachov. Putin’s next statement will be that he framed the invasion of Ukraine as a de-nazification to avoid letting on that he had uncovered the West’s machinations, using Ukraine as a proxy to destroy Russia.

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