WASHINGTON (Dec. 18)
Officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center at Yeshiva University in Los Angeles met here last Thursday with Ambassador Jorge Espinosa de los Reyes of Mexico to urge that President Miguel de la Madrid repudiate an anti-Semitic statement made earlier this month by Deputy Miguel Angel Olea Enriquez, the representative from Chihuahua of the Partido Revolucionario institucional (PRI), the ruling party in the Mexican government.
Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abrahm Cooper, dean and associate dean, respectively, of the Wiesenthal Center, later said at a press conference that the Ambassador told them that the President of Mexico would soon meet with representatives of Mexico’s Jewish community and the envoy “is certain that we will be happy” with what de la Madrid has to say. But Hier said he was not certain whether the President’s remarks would be made privately to the Jewish group or in public, as the rabbi thought it must.
Enriquez, in his remarks, issued a broadside against industrialists and exporters who benefit from the devalued Peso and allegedly squeeze workers and object to currency restrictions. He singled out Jews specifically as “experts” in speculation and tax evasion and implied that they were among “Mexican traitors, shameless people and profiteers,” forgers of export licenses who send much needed Dollars abroad.
Hier said it was stressed at the meeting that Jews consider it “a serious matter” that a Deputy would make an anti-Semitic statement in parliament. Enriquez’s charges received front page treatment in Mexico’s major newspaper, Excelsior, as well as radio and tele- vision coverage, Hier said. The next day the PRI repudiated the speech and said it did not represent the majority opinion of the party. “Mexicans of Jewish origin are Mexicans by right and with the same rights as any co-nationals,” the PRI statement said.
Hier said that while this statement was welcome, it does not carry the same “moral force of the Presidency.” He said that if a U.S. Senator or Congressman, regardless of party, made a similar statement in Congress it would be immediately repudiated by the President.
RABBI DISAGREES WITH ENVOY’S ADVICE
The Mexican Jewish community had asked for a meeting with de la Madrid as soon as Enriquez made his statement on December 2, Hier noted, but the meeting had been postponed. He said the Mexican Ambassador said the best solution was to let the situation quiet down since the more publicity there is the more pronounced it becomes.
Hier said that he disagreed, noting that 5,000 years of history has taught the Jewish people otherwise. He said when the Nazis first appeared in Germany the advice was to ignore them and they would go away. “This advice must never again be followed, ” he said.
Hier rejected the suggestion that, as Americans, the Wiesenthal Center officials should not have entered the issue but left it to the Mexican Jews. He said the attack in Mexico was serious because the country was going through an economic crisis and Jews are being used as a scapegoat. He said that when this happens, all Jews are threatened as well as other ethnic groups, since they could be next to be attacked.
However, Hier noted that Ambassador de los Reyes pointed out that Jews have always been treated well in Mexico and were welcomed there before and after World War II. In addition, the envoy stressed that Mexico has good relations with Israel.