“I have a lot of Jewish friends. They say that Zelensky is not Jewish, that he is a disgrace to the Jewish people … He is a man with Jewish blood … he covers for these freaks, these neo-Nazis, with his actions.”

— Vladimir Putin

Russia’s self-proclaimed spiritual leader insists Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is a “disgrace to the Jewish community.” More than 500 days after his unprovoked, attack on the Democratic government of Ukraine that has taken the lives of more than 9,000 innocent civilians and raised the possibility of nuclear assault, Vladimir Putin has become the arbiter of what it takes to be a Jew.

Jews that refuse to cave to Putin’s madness are, by his definition, not entitled to call themselves Jews. Unlike the Nazi era, when many Jews posed as Christians or atheists to avoid annihilation, the Russians have made it clear that Ukrainian Jews have a moral obligation to support Putin’s murderous campaign to exterminate their own country by any means necessary, up to and including the kidnapping of children nationwide.

In the same way that Putin has rewritten history to justify his attempt to obliterate this independent nation, he has accused Zelensky of being an impostor who uses his faith as a way to defraud his own people.

This reclassification of Putin’s opponent by his anonymous “friends” is the last stage of Putin’s war against the Jews. Make no mistake — Putin’s attempt to classify himself as a friend of the Jews will not lead up to his conversion or bar mitzvah. He dreams of uniting anti-Semites everywhere in a brazen attempt to target Jews as part of a worldwide conspiracy.

You can’t help but hear echoes of the libelous Protocols of the Elder of Zion when he attempts to link Zelensky’s “Jewish blood” to the Third Reich. He is dog whistling to get the attention of anyone sympathetic to his ethnic cleansing campaign to destroy all Ukrainian Jews who support their president. His ultimate goal is genocide; he wants nothing less than the scalp of the Jewish head of state.

For all those business leaders, heads of state, military allies and Putin enthusiasts who helped him create his reign of terror over more than two decades, it is time to see Putin’s war against the Jews for exactly what it has become — an admission of defeat. Russia isn’t losing to a country being propped up by a vast international conspiracy of Jews. He is losing to an independent state led by a democratically elected President that is striving to join the 21st century and refuses to be dragged back into the civic, economic and moral darkness of Russia’s shadow.

Roger Rapoport’s novel Searching For Patty Hearst (Lexographic Press) is out in January for the 50th anniversary of her kidnapping.