Mexican Jews voice wall-to-wall outrage over Netanyahu tweet
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'Mexico is not at war with its neighbor'

Mexican Jews voice wall-to-wall outrage over Netanyahu tweet

As PM lauds efficacy of Israeli barrier, Jewish community south of the US border pans him as Trump’s ‘lackey’

People protest against US President Donald Trump's inauguration next to a fake wall with a Mexican national flag and a dummy representing him in Mexico City on January 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDO)
People protest against US President Donald Trump's inauguration next to a fake wall with a Mexican national flag and a dummy representing him in Mexico City on January 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDO)

In kosher stores, synagogues and intellectual circles, Mexico’s small Jewish community condemned the Israeli prime minister’s support for US President Donald Trump’s border wall as disappointing and shameful.

“As Mexicans, as Jews, we oppose the construction of a wall, but we support cooperation between the two countries [Mexico and the US],” said Rabbi Marcelo Rittner of Comunidad Bet El in Mexico City, in a January 30 statement in Spanish.

The statement was addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and published on the Enlace Judio (Jewish Network) website.

Mexico demanded an apology after Netanyahu tweeted on Saturday night in support of Trump’s proposed wall spanning the Mexican border, saying a similar plan along Israel’s southern frontier had been a success.

Netanyahu did not apologize, saying he had not been commenting on US-Mexico relations in the tweet. He added he had a “long, fruitful and very friendly relationship” with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Cybertech Israel Conference and Exhibition, in Tel Aviv on January 31, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Cybertech Israel Conference and Exhibition, in Tel Aviv on January 31, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

On Tuesday, Netanyahu continued to downplay the spat with Mexico, saying the countries’ relations were stronger than a “passing” quarrel. Netanyahu wrote on Twitter that Israel “will continue to have good relations” with Mexico.

“I believe our ties are stronger than any passing disagreement or misunderstanding,” he added.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin will speak with Pena Nieto on Tuesday, a source close to him said, as the two countries seek to calm the row.

Rivlin, who comes from Netanyahu’s Likud party, is expected to stress the importance of the relationship between the two countries, the source said on condition of anonymity.

However, many Mexican Jews feel the prime minister has not gone far enough in smoothing out the Mexican-Israeli relationship.

“Netanyahu must apologize to the Mexican people for his disgusting statement,” the prominent historian Enrique Krauze wrote on Twitter.

Calling Netanyahu a “lackey of Trump,” Krauze said he “condemned, deplored and rejected” the prime minister’s tweet.

Israel episode just another brick in the wall

The wall planned for the 1,900-mile US-Mexico border is arguably the centerpiece of Trump’s policy on Mexico.

Last summer, in a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, candidate Trump said that if elected, “On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.”

He promised that Mexico would pay for the wall “100 percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for it.”

Trump had made controversial comments about Mexico and Mexicans before.

In the summer of 2015, he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

In Phoenix last summer, Trump presented the wall as a way to combat illegal immigration, appearing with members of the “Angel Moms” who have lost loved ones to crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

As president, Trump followed up on his Phoenix speech when he tweeted, on January 24, “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”

Two days after Trump’s tweet, Pena Nieto tweeted that he had canceled a planned meeting with the president.

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