Mexican Jews alarmed by Netanyahu tweet on Trump’s wall

Donors suspend contributions to Keren Hayesod; Foreign Ministry clarifies stance.

By
January 29, 2017 23:27
3 minute read.
A WORKER STANDS next to a newly built section of the US border fence at Sunland Park, New Mexico.

A WORKER STANDS next to a newly built section of the US border fence at Sunland Park, New Mexico, opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, on Wednesday. Picture taken from the Mexico side of the border.. (photo credit: JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ/REUTERS)

 
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A number of angry Mexican Jews called Keren Hayesod on Sunday to cancel donations to the organization following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tweet Saturday night seemingly supporting President Donald Trump’s decision to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to one official, the organization has received “dozens” of angry calls from infuriated Mexican Jews, with a number saying that they were canceling their contributions because of the tweet that led to a wave of antisemitic comments on social media in the country.

On Saturday night, Netanyahu tweeted the following; “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” At the end of the tweet were pictures of an Israeli and an American flag.
Mexico rebukes Israel over Netanyahu wall tweet

The tweet was immediately denounced by the Mexican government and the Mexican-Jewish community.

“The Foreign Ministry expressed to the government of Israel, via its ambassador in Mexico, its profound astonishment, rejection and disappointment over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s message,” according to a statement issued by the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

“Mexico is a friend of Israel and should be treated as such by its prime minister.”

The Mexican-Jewish community said in a formal statement that it “strongly rejected his [Netanyahu’s] position.”

A few hours afterward, and after Jerusalem became aware of the angry responses to Netanyahu’s tweet, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon clarified that the prime minister was not trying to intervene in the dispute between Mexico and the US.

Netanyahu, Nahshon wrote, “referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share. We do not express a position on US-Mexico relations.”

That message was passed on to the Mexican government by Ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Peled, as well as in a meeting he held Sunday with the local Jewish community.

The Foreign Ministry is weighing the possibility of a phone conversation between President Reuven Rivlin and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to clarify the matter, and to put Mexico’s Jewish community – which numbers some 50,000 – at ease.


By Sunday night, Netanyahu’s tweet received some 93,000 “likes,” and was retweeted more than 47,000 times – including by Trump’s official White House account – far more exposure than he usually gets for his tweets.

The clarification by Nahshon, on the other hand, was retweeted only 66 times, and received 73 “likes.”

Interior Minister Arye Deri, also in an effort to calm the anger of Mexico’s Jews, posted in both Hebrew and Spanish on his Twitter page that he spoke to Netanyahu about the need “to continue the warm relations between Israel and Mexico.”

According to Deri, Netanyahu said Israel will not get involved in the conflict between the two countries over who will pay for the wall.

“We will continue to strengthen the relations with Mexico, where many Jews live with respect and dignity,” he wrote.

Not only was there concern in Jerusalem about how this would impact on Israel’s ties with Mexico – which were strained to a degree last year when Mexico voted for a resolution in UNESCO expunging any Jewish link to the Temple Mount – but it also could complicate Israel’s ties with other Central and South American countries that are also opposed to the wall.

In addition, the appearance that Netanyahu was backing Trump on this matter risks angering large swaths of the Hispanic population in the US, an important demographic that is the target of pro-Israel outreach efforts by a number of US Jewish organizations.

Former US ambassador Dan Shapiro, whose tenure ended with Trump’s inauguration on January 20 but who is remaining in Israel in a private capacity until the summer, also tweeted on the matter, writing that it was “hard to explain this intervention on a hotly debated issue in domestic US politics. Unless this endorsement is Trump’s demand of Netanyahu for something Netanyahu wants.”

Shapiro wrote that “it looks like Trump is already squeezing Netanyahu hard,” and that Netanyahu’s top aides said “a key goal in Trump’s era was keeping bipartisan support for Israel. Now this?”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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