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21 U.S. Jewish Community Leaders Return from Mexico Reassured About the Situation of Jews There

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A fact finding mission of 21 American Jewish community leaders has just returned from Mexico reassured about the situation of Mexican Jewry.

The mission spent five days in Mexico investigating two concerns of the Jewish community there — a barrage of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic propaganda during and after the war in Lebanon and the possibility that Jews would be scapegoated for the country’s severe economic crisis.

Led by Alvin Steinberg of Washington, D.C., chairman of the Community Service Division of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and Philip Aronoff of Houston, Texas, chairman of the Young Leadership Committee of ADL’s Southwest regional office, the group met with Mexican government officials, the ambassadors of the United States and of Israel and leaders of the Comite Central Israelite, the umbrella organization of the Mexican Jewish community.

According to Steinberg and Aronoff, anxieties about Mexican Jews possibly being singled out for blame for the nation’s economic woes have been allayed as a result of assurances by government representatives that Jews would not be discriminated against or scapegoated for what is a national problem.

The co-chairman added that the Jewish community seemed to be held in high esteem for its significant contributions to Mexico’s industry, commerce and culture. They said that the members of their delegation were impressed by the dynamic, vibrant Jewish life clearly evident in the synagogues, sports centers, schools and other communal institutions they visited.

WAVE OF ANTI-ISRAEL PROPAGANDA

According to Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of ADL’s Latin American Affairs Department, and a member of the delegation, “the Jewish community remains troubled by the persistent wave of anti-Israel propaganda emanating from Mexico’s well-staffed, well-financed office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, particularly since the war in Lebanon.”

Noting that much of this PLO propaganda is “anti-Semitic as well as inflammatory,” Rosenthal said that anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared throughout Mexico City and there have been several public demonstrations denouncing Jews, Zionism and Israel.

In discussing how Americans could be helpful, Mexican Jewish leaders told the delegation that increased tourism would bolster the economy and improve international understanding.

Among those with whom the mission met were Enrique Savignac, Minister of Tourism in President Miguel de la Madrid’s Cabinet; Ravi Vieyra, editor of the leading Mexican daily, “Excelsior”; John Gavin, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; and Israel Gur-Arieh, Israel’s Ambassador.

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