Russian President Vladimir Putin angered several Jewish organizations and US lawmakers after suggesting in an interview over the weekend that it was "Jews" who were behind Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.
In an interview with NBC News, Putin said that perhaps the people responsible for Russia's interference in the election "are not even Russian. Maybe they're Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or a Green card."
Putin's comments angered many in Congress who called on President Donald Trump to toughen his rhetoric with Russia.
"Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote on Twitter.
Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders. Why is Trump silent? Intolerance is intolerable. https://t.co/ZxQHvIWs5w
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) March 10, 2018
"Why is Trump silent?" Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) also demanded a response by Trump, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
So far, the White House has not responded to requests for a comment.
"President Putin bizarrely has resorted to the blame game by pointing the finger at Jews and other minorities in his country," Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. ) "It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' "
The "Elders of Zion" was a fake document published widely in Russia in the early 1900s that claimed the Jewish race was plotting to take over the world. It helped spark violence against Jews across Europe, and also shaped Adolph Hitler's plans for the Final Solution, which led to the Holocaust.
Anti-Semitism in Russia dates back hundreds of years. Jews were persecuted under the rule of the czars and especially Communist leader Joseph Stalin. Since Stalin's death, the persecution against Russian Jews has continued. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Communist Party has closed synagogues, published anti-Semitic books and executed dozens of Jews in the 1960s and 1970s.