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Putin Makes Joke About Jews and Money, Speaks Hebrew

Also on Monday in Crimea, Putin proposed inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the opening of a synagogue in Sevastopol, Crimea

JTA
Marcy Oster
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Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, gestures while speaking at an outdoor concert in Crimea's regional capital of Simferopol, Crimea, Monday, March 18, 2019
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, gestures while speaking at an outdoor concert in Crimea's regional capital of Simferopol, Crimea, Monday, March 18, 2019Credit: Yuri Kadobnov/Pool Photo via AP
JTA
Marcy Oster

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a joke invoking the anti-Semitic trope about Jews and money during a visit with local residents and religious leaders in Crimea on Monday.

When a local Jewish leader made a comment about financial difficulties, Putin replied: “So the Jews have problems with finances! Only such a thing could happen in Crimea.” He also said to the bearded and black-hatted Jewish man in Hebrew, “toda raba,” or thank you very much.

The exchange was first reported in English in a tweet by Washington Post Moscow correspondent Anie Ferris-Rotman, who included a video of the exchange.

Putin also proposed inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the opening of a synagogue in Sevastopol, after offering to invite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the opening of a Crimean Mosque.

He also stated that the Jewish community of Russia was making a large  contribution to the country’s development.

“I hope that Jews in Crimea will play the same positive role. Judaism is also among our traditional denominations, traditional religions, and I am very pleased that religious life is developing here, in Crimea,” the president said.

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