Russian politician spews

MOSCOW (AP) — In his most direct anti-Semitic statements yet, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky blamed Jews on Wednesday for starting World War II and provoking the Holocaust.
The politician’s anti-Semitic comments have drawn international condemnation for years, but Wednesday’s remarks in an hourlong address to reporters were some of his least subtle.
“The essence of the conflict around the Jewish people is that when their number grows too much in some country, war breaks out there,” said Zhirinovsky, who leads the third-largest faction in the Russian parliament’s lower house.
“That happened in Germany … where there were too many Jews,” he declared.
Zhirinovsky, a former presidential candidate, has a flamboyant style and clearly relishes making provocative statements.
It was not clear why he called the news conference, which he turned into a monologue about his vision of the history of the Jews and their role in contemporary life.
“Many Jews were born in April,” was the only explanation he provided.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Zhirinovsky’s statement could also have been timed for the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins Friday, or Holocaust Memorial Day on April 23.
His allegation that Jews started World War II was not just “a slap in the face to the Jewish victims,” but also an appeal to strong emotions around the war effort, one of the few national undertakings of the Soviet era that remain sacred in today’s Russia, Cooper said.
“He’s talking to a country that lost 20 million people in the Second World War,” he said.
Cooper called on Russia’s political and Orthodox Church leaders “to put Zhirinovsky in his place” and reject his statements.
Anti-Semitism is widespread in Russia, which has the third-largest Jewish population in the world, after the United States and Israel. Still, Zhirinovsky’s remarks were stronger than most ever aired publicly.
While repeating several times that his party isn’t anti-Semitic, Zhirinovsky accused Jews of sparking the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and bringing Russia to ruin ever since.
“You will always find Jews where war is raging, because they realize that money flows where blood is spilled,” he said.
He repeated stereotypical slurs, and even accused the Jews of causing repressions and the Holocaust.
“Jews themselves, Zionist leaders, often provoked anti-Jewish sentiments, and Jewish pogroms,” he said.
He also accused Jews of taking Russian women abroad for prostitution, selling healthy Russian children and transplant organs to the West and robbing Russia of its gold, diamonds and other assets.
Ironically, rumors have circulated for years that Zhirinovsky’s anti-Semitism is a response to his own Jewish roots. His father’s name was Volf, or Wolf, and public records indicate he had a Jewish-sounding surname, Eidelshtein, until he changed it at age 18.