Putin issues rare apology to Israel


May 9, 2022

The word ‘apology’ is usually not associated with Putin unless he is the one demanding an apology. Interestingly, the Russian President has now apologized to the State of Israel over his Foreign Minister’s comment that caused a rift between the two nations. Putin reportedly issued the apology during a phone call with the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett on Friday, 6th May 2022. According to a statement released by the Israeli government, Putin had apologized during the phone call, and Prime Minister Benett had accepted the apology.

Recall that during an interview on May 2, 2022, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov was asked why Ukraine needed denazification when its president is Jewish. Lavrov replied that “Hitler also had Jewish origin, so it means nothing.” He added that the “wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.” The state of Israel had considered the statement to be offensive and had demanded an immediate apology. Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid had also described Lavrov’s comments as “unforgivable.”

While reacting, Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett described Lavrov’s comment as a lie that pictures the Jews as the killer of their own people. He added that “The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people for political purposes must stop immediately.”

Although the paternity of one of Adolf Hitler’s grandfathers remains unclear, there is a conspiracy theory that he might have been Jewish. There is no DNA and no empirical proof to back up this claim. There is even another conspiracy theory that Hitler ordered the killings of the Jews because he was ashamed of his Jewish roots. Lavrov might have based his claims on these conspiracy theories, but this did not go well with the Jewish community because, for people like Yair Lapid who lost his grandfather during the holocaust, such conspiracies hurt.

Moscow had initially refused to apologize for Lavrov’s statement. Instead, the Russian government accused the State of Israel of supporting a Neo Nazist government and even claimed that Israeli mercenaries are fighting for Ukraine.
Putin’s intervention and apology had now put an end to the rising tension between the two nations that have managed to sustain their relationship despite the invasion of Ukraine. At the moment, Israel is one of the few Western nations that had refused to openly criticize and impose sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Israel might have remained neutral for its internal security, while Russia may be trying to ensure Israel’s neutrality so that it does not send military support to Ukraine.

One thing that is worth noting is that the Russian government is yet to acknowledge Putin’s apology. The statement released by the Kremlin shows that there was indeed a conversation between the two leaders, but there was no mention of the apology from Putin. Although this has raised questions about the sincerity of the apology, what is important at the moment is that Putin apologized, and the unforgivable statement had been forgiven.