A Mexican flag is seen next to a section of the wall separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 6, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel views the Latino community in the US as “great friends” and hopes to “broaden and deepen” that friendship in the coming years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, as he continued efforts to limit fallout from his tweet Saturday night on border walls.
Netanyahu’s comments came during a meeting with a senior delegation from the American Jewish Committee, which is intensively involved in advocating for Israel inside the growing US Hispanic community.
The meeting was planned before Netanyahu’s tweet, which infuriated both the Mexican government and Mexican Jews, because it was interpreted as giving support to US President Donald Trump’s policy to build a border wall with Mexico.
“President Trump is right,” Netanyahu wrote. “I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”
Mexico rebukes Israel over Netanyahu wall tweet
An AJC communique said the delegation relayed the concerns of the Latino community to Netanyahu, “following the unfortunate misunderstanding” surrounding the tweet.
American Jewish organizations with dealings with the Latino community heard a great deal of criticism by Latino community organizations and leaders, with one official saying that situation reached a “near crisis” level. The message that emerged from Wednesday’s meeting with Netanyahu was part of an effort to keep that anger from turning into a full-blown crisis On Tuesday, President Reuven Rivlin phoned his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, and apologized, hoping to end the mini-diplomatic crisis caused by the tweet and tamp down anger in the US Latino population.
“I am sorry for any hurt caused as a result of this misunderstanding, but we must remember that we are talking about a misunderstanding, and I am sure that we can put the issue behind us,” Rivlin told Nieto.
“The security situation in Israel, and the entire Middle East, brought us to the important decision to build a wall on our border,” Rivlin said. “We have no intention to compare the security situation in the State of Israel, and the steps forced upon us, to the situation of any of our friends around the world.”
The Latino community in the US relayed messages that they were angered because it seemed as if Netanyahu was saying that the security threats to the US from Mexico were similar to those Israel faces, a comparison they found offensive.