The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statement in an interview which slurred Jews and other groups for the actions of Russian nationals indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in the latter’s investigation into possible interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. The ZOA is calling upon President Donald Trump to condemn the Russian president’s words.
In a March 9 interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly in Moscow, Putin was asked about the 13 indicted Russian nationals and responded thus through a translator: “Maybe they’re not even Russians. Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.” (‘Putin on U.S. election interference: ‘I couldn’t care less,’” NBC News, March 10, 2018).
The Russian president’s words have been widely condemned in the US media.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We condemn President Putin’s words, which we find sinister and unacceptable, irrespective of the fact that, until now, he has not indulged in anti-Semitic statements and has not appeared to have a problem with Jews in Russia or with the State of Israel.
“While we understand that President Putin was speaking of three of the minority nationalities that comprise the Russian population –– the Russian term actually used by President Putin in the Kelly interview for Jews was ‘Hebrews,’ which is the historic, inoffensive Russian term for the Jewish nationality within Russia, as distinct from ‘Jews’ –– this has little bearing on the offensiveness of his statement.
“After all, President Putin was essentially distinguishing these nationalities from ethnic Russians in an effort to avoid admitting Russian interference in the US presidential elections.
“In other words, he was implying that true Russians probably weren’t involved and those indicted might well be Jews or others who are either disloyal to Russia or not even Russian citizens.
“When a world leader starts casting blame on Jews and other groups for criminal acts that impliedly wouldn’t be committed by true nationals of his country, he is recklessly stirring anti-Semitism and bigotry.
“For that reason, it is vital that President Trump does not let President Putin’s unacceptable remarks pass without condemnation.
“A statement of this sort cannot be allowed to pass without the stern criticism by the leader of the free world.
“The ZOA calls upon President Trump to incisively criticize Vladimir Putin’s unacceptable and sinister statement without delay.”