hitler

Adolf Hitler, Count Galeazzo Ciano, and Joachim von Ribbentrop attend a Nazi Party rally.
After Russia's Foreign Minister said that Hitler had Jewish blood, Israeli leaders have condemned him angrily, with the Prime Minister saying he was justifying "the oppressors of Israel." Wait, when did this become about Israel?

There's a major brouhaha going on, with harsh condemnations from the Israeli top political leaders, about what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday:
"I believe Hitler also had Jewish blood."
Lavrov was responding to a question about the "denazification" of Ukraine, which has been Russia's propaganda claim for its invasion. During an interview on the Italian channel Zona Bianca, he was asked how the "denazification" claim could hold, in view of the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish. Lavrov said:
So what if Zelensky is Jewish? The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people said that the most ardent antisemites are usually Jews. Every family has its black sheep, as we say.
Let's cut to the chase. The identity of Hitler's paternal grandfather is unknown, and there is a plausible theory that he was Jewish. This theory in fact stems from Hitler's own attorney, Hans Frank, who headed the Nazi government in occupied Poland, and who was asked by Hitler himself to investigate the claim in 1930, reportedly after his nephew William Patrick Hitler threatened to expose the claim and blackmail Hitler. All this comes up in Frank's own 1946 memoir, published seven years after his execution for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.

Hitler's father Alois Hitler was the illegitimate son of Maria Schicklgruber, and the speculation concerns who Alois's father was. Hitler's lawyer Frank claimed to have uncovered evidence in 1930 that Hitler's paternal grandfather was a Jewish man living in Graz, Austria: that in 1836, Maria became pregnant, at 42, after sex with a 19-year-old member of the Jewish family she was working for. In 2019, the Jerusalem Post published an article on the matter, citing a recent study by Leonard Sax (a Jew by the way), which came out in the Journal of European Studies, and does not provide unequivocal proof one way or the other.

I repeat - it's not proven. But let's look at the condemnations, and who is voicing them. Let's start with Israel's Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel. He called Lavrov's comments "delusional":
For historical accuracy: Hitler did not have Jewish blood and what is happening in Ukraine is outrageous... Denigrating the Holocaust is something that I'm not willing to accept and nothing should be compared to the acts of the Nazis.
Hendel is an anti-Palestinian demagogue who has engaged in revenge fantasies where Palestinians play the part of the Nazis. Hendel poses as a liberal centrist, but he's an ultra-nationalist bigot. In a "Rally for Democracy" headed by the war criminal 'liberal' Benny Gantz, Hendel simply turned his car back and went home when he heard that a Palestinian lawmaker - Ayman Odeh - would be speaking.

Who else is outraged?

Dani Dayan, head of Yad Vashem Holocaust museum:
Most of [Lavrov's] remarks are absurd, delusional, dangerous and deserving of any condemnation... Lavrov deals with the reversal of the Holocaust: turning the victims into criminals, based on the promotion of a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent."
Dayan is another ultra-nationalist, former head of the settler-council YESHA (2007-13).

And then there's Yair Lapid, Israel's Foreign Minster, a man who poses as a centrist yet whose stated principle is "maximum Jews on maximum land with maximum security and with minimum Palestinians", a man who advocated a shoot-to-kill policy against Palestinian suspects, even if they merely carry a screwdriver. Lapid is outraged with Lavrov's words, calling them "both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error. Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism."

But that's not really what Lavrov said.

And finally Prime Minister Naftali Bennett:
The aim of such lies is to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history that were committed against them, thus freeing from responsibility the oppressors of Israel.
How did this become about Israel? Did you notice how Bennett just went from Jews to Israel in one sentence?

Bennett, the man who 'killed many Arabs' and thinks there's no problem with that, is now outraged that Jews might be framed as other than victims. But it was Bennett himself who coined the term "auto anti-semitism" in 2017, when he was Education Minister as a way to sideline self-hating Jews. He used the term to tarnish secular Jews, or those who opposed the increasing religious fundamentalism in schools.

Now, before wrapping this up, let me just say that Russia's propaganda of "denazification" is unhinged, and this talk by Lavrov is not making it any better in the context of the invasion. But I think Lavrov's point about Zelensky's Jewish heritage is relevant. Just because you're Jewish, doesn't mean that you can't be a fascist.


Comment: It's not "unhinged," it's perfectly reasonable. See: Medvedev concisely explained Russia's denazification goal in Ukraine


The long list of Israeli leaders who are appalled by Lavrov's words demonstrate this very well. It's a line up of ultra-nationalist bigots. You know, the pot calling the kettle.

And it's very easy to catch Israel on its bigotry. Russia did this last month, when Israel was one of the countries to back Russia's suspension from the UN Human Rights Council (Libya is the only other country to have been suspended in 2011). Russia's Foreign Ministry stated that "there is an effort to take advantage of the situation around Ukraine to distract the international community from one of the longest unresolved conflicts — the Palestinian-Israeli... the longest occupation in the post-war world history is carried out with the tacit connivance of the leading Western countries and the actual support of the United States". That's an absolutely true observation.

I'm certainly not subscribing to the Russian propaganda points suggesting Zelensky is a fascist antisemite. I'm saying that this claim, of "I'm Jewish so I can't be an ultra-nationalist", is nonsense. And yes there are neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine; it is a worrying white-supremacist element that should not be disregarded. And that presence is not in any way something that can justify Russia's invasion.

But as to the facts, there is a possibility that Hitler's grandfather was Jewish. It's not proven, but it's certainly possible. The question really is - what difference does it make? There has long been a historical obsession with this question, both by Nazi sympathisers (who saw it as a problem weakening Hitler) as well as by those who felt it was an offense to even suggest the possibility.

But the truth is that being a Jew or not being a Jew, racially that is, is no guarantee for or against anything. I don't care if Hitler's grandfather was Jewish - he was still an antisemitic genocider.

We shouldn't be making judgments about character based upon blood.