Staunton, May 2 – The international community has reacted with outrage to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s suggestion that Hitler had Jewish ancestors and that other notorious anti-Semites have Jewish backgrounds, but it is possible the more serious consequences of his words will be inside Russia, Leonid Nevzlin says.
On the one hand, the Russian-Israeli commentator says, Jews in Putin’s circle are unlikely to be pleased by Lavrov’s remarks. And that means that while some will view them as simply an outgrowth of Putin’s war on Ukraine, others will see them as the opening salvo of an attack on themselves (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6271FCF0560E8).
And on the other, given the long tradition of anti-Semitism in Russia, many of the remaining Jews in the country will fear a recrudescence and will leave, exacerbating the brain drain from that country. Indeed, Nevzlin says, there is some evidence that they will do just that. Israel says there has been a significant upsurge in Russian Jews seeking to emigrate there.
In any case, while the Kremlin may be able to smooth things over with Israel, it won’t be able quickly in any case to undo the damage Lavrov’s remark has had on the reputation of Putin’s regime which has at least escaped the charge that it is anti-Semitic, something that has restrained some in Russia and abroad from labeling it fascist.
Now, many in both places will conclude that the Putin regime has moved further and in an even uglier way in that direction, something that will harm how Russians see their government and how others see the Russian Federation.