YouTube will kill unskippable 30-second ads next year

Google has announced that in 2018, it will end non-skippable 30-second ads that appear before a YouTube video. In a statement first given to Campaign then confirmed by The Verge, a Google spokesperson said the company will focus on commercial formats that are more engaging for both advertisers and viewers.

We’re committed to providing a better ads experience for users online. As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” Google said.

While this is good news, it doesn’t mean all unskippable ads are eventually going away. Formats that include 15- and 20-second ads will stick around; you’ll likely see more of the six-second “bumper ads” rather than ones that you can move past after five seconds. And again, the change is not expected to take place until at least 2018 so we still have many months to go.

Now if only it’ll also kill unskippable ads that appear in the middle of long videos. Sure, I’ll wait.


The Zuckerberg manifesto: How he plans to debug the world

NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term vision for Facebook, laid out in a sweeping manifesto , sometimes sounds more like a utopian social guide than a business plan. Are we, he asks, “building the world we all want?”

While most people now use Facebook to connect with friends and family, Zuckerberg hopes that the social network can encourage more civic engagement, an informed public and community support in the years to come. Facebook now has nearly 2 billion members, which makes it larger than any nation in the world.

His 5,800-word essay positions Facebook in direct opposition to a rising tide of isolationism and fear of outsiders, both in the US and abroad. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Zuckerberg stressed that he wasn’t motivated by the US election or any other particular event. Rather, he said, it’s the growing sentiment in many parts of the world that “connecting the world” — the founding idea behind Facebook — is no longer a good thing.

“Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection,” Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote on Thursday. “In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

Zuckerberg, 32, said he still strongly believes that more connectedness is the right direction for the world. But, he adds, it’s “not enough if it’s good for some people but it’s doesn’t work for other people. We really have to bring everyone along.”

This file photo taken on November 21, 2016, shows Facebook logos pictured on the screens of a smartphone (R), and a laptop computer, in central London. (AFP)

This file photo taken on November 21, 2016, shows Facebook logos pictured on the screens of a smartphone (R), and a laptop computer, in central London. (AFP)

It’s hardly a surprise that Zuckerberg wants to find ways to bring more people together, especially on Facebook. After all, getting more people to come together on the social network more frequently would give Facebook more opportunities to sell the ads that generate most of its revenue, which totaled $27 billion last year. And bringing in more money probably would boost Facebook’s stock price to make Zuckerberg — already worth an estimated $56 billion — even richer.

And while the idea of unifying the world is laudable, some critics — backed various studies — contend Facebook makes some people feel lonelier and more isolated as they scroll through the mostly ebullient posts and photos shared on the social network. Facebook’s famous “like” button also makes it easy to engage in a form of “one-click” communication that replaces meaningful dialogue.

Facebook also has been lambasted as polarizing force by circulating posts espousing similar viewpoints and interests among like-minded people, creating an “echo chamber” that can harden opinions and widen political and cultural chasms.

Today, most of Facebook’s 1.86 billion members — about 85 percent — live outside of the US and Canada. The Menlo Park, California-based company has offices everywhere from Amsterdam to Jakarta, Indonesia, to Tel Aviv, Israel. (It is banned in China, the world’s most populous country, though some people get around the ban.) Naturally, Zuckerberg takes a global view of Facebook and sees potential that goes beyond borders, cities and nations.

And that could allow the social network to step up as more traditional cultural ties fray. People already use Facebook to connect with strangers who have the same rare disease, to post political diatribes, to share news links (and sometimes fake news links ). Facebook has also pushed its users to register to vote, to donate to causes, to mark themselves safe after natural disasters, and to “go live .” For many, it’s become a utility. Some 1.23 billion people use it daily.

“For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families. With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community — for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg has gotten Facebook to this position of global dominance — one that Myspace and Twitter, for instance, never even approached — partly thanks to his audacious, long-term view of the company and its place in the world.

Last fall, Zuckerberg and his wife, the doctor Priscilla Chan, unveiled the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , a long-term effort aimed at eradicating all disease by the end of this century. Then, as now, Zuckerberg preferred to look far down the road to the potential of scientific and technological innovations that have not been perfected, or even invented yet. This includes artificial intelligence.

“Looking ahead, one of our greatest opportunities to keep people safe is building artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community,” he wrote.

Speaking to the AP, Zuckerberg said he understands that we might not “solve all the issues that we want” in the short term.

“One of my favorite quotes is this Bill Gates quote, that ‘people overestimate what they can get done in two years and underestimate what they can get done in 10 years.’ And that’s an important mindset that I hope more people take today,” he said.

Following Disney, YouTube cancels PewDiePie show over anti-Semitic videos


YouTube’s most-watched blogger PewDiePie will lose his preferred status on the Google-owned video service after posting several videos containing anti-Semitic remarks and Nazi references, the tech giant said Tuesday.

YouTube said it was canceling the popular program from the 27-year-old Swede, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, the same day Disney said it was cutting its ties with the social media star.

PewDiePie — known for posting humorous clips to his more than 53 million followers on YouTube — will be sanctioned for violating the platform’s guidelines on hate speech, Google said Tuesday.

“We’ve decided to cancel the release of ‘Scare PewDiePie Season 2’ and we’re removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred,” a statement from the US tech company said, refering to a program that allows advertisers to direct their messages to the key 18- to 34-year-old demographic, with an implicit guarantee that the participation won’t hurt their brand.

“Scare PewDiePie” was a program that YouTube ordered for its online subscription service.

The moves won’t keep PewDiePie off YouTube but will likely limit his audience and could sharply curtail his revenue from advertising.

Separately Disney indicated it was ending its business relationship with the Swedish media star.

“Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate,” according to a statement to AFP by Disney’s Maker Studios.

PewDiePie, who had editorial independence under the terms of the arrangement with Disney, reportedly paid two Indian men five dollars to hold the banner reading “Death to all Jews” while they laugh and dance in the January 11 video.

“I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online,” Kjellberg said in a Tumblr blog post on February 12.

“I picked something that seemed absurd to me — that people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars,” referring to an Israeli service that helps freelancers receive part-time work.

The Wall Street Journal reported PewDiePie had posted nine videos that display anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi references since August.

One of them shows a man dressed as Jesus, saying “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”

“I think it’s important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes,” the YouTube star said in the blog post.

Kjellberg is a top earner on YouTube, making roughly $14.5 million (13.6 million euros) last year, according to reported estimates from social media data firm NeoReach.

That amount includes splitting ad revenue with YouTube, as well as sponsorships and appearance fees.

In December, PewDiePie accused YouTube of trying to “kill” his channel and has threatened to shut it down, a move that turned out to be a publicity stunt.

McGill University student leader urges Twitter users to ‘punch a Zionist today’

MONTREAL (JTA) — A student union leader at McGill University urged people on Twitter to “punch a Zionist today.”

Igor Sadikov, a member of the legislative council, posted the tweet Monday, prompting calls for the third-year political science major to resign from his elected post.

“This is clear incitement to violence, which should not be tolerated on the part of any student, let alone a student politician,” Amanda Hohmann of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights said in a statement.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs also condemned the post, which was later deleted.

Sadikov, who is also active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, denied he is anti-Semitic, noting that his father is Jewish and his mother is half-Jewish.

“This tweet was not an attack against Jewish students, but on the adherents of a political philosophy,” he told The National Post.

Some said the tweet only added to what they see as a toxic atmosphere on campus for pro-Israel students, who say they have faced harassment after a pro-BDS motion failed to be ratified last year.

In Britain and France, government officials last year said the term “Zio” and “Zionist” were used on campuses as substitute for “Jew” in anti-Semitic hate speech.

Facebook shareholders urge company to replace Mark Zuckerberg with ‘independent’ board chair


Facebook is being pressured by a group of shareholders seeking the removal of company chief executive Mark Zuckerberg from the board of the directors. A proposal has been put forward claiming that an independent chairperson would be better able to “oversee the executives of the company, improve corporate governance, and set a more accountable, pro-shareholder agenda.”

The idea for Zuckerberg’s board ousting comes from Facebook shareholders who are members of the consumer watchdog group SumOfUs. The organization bills itself as an online community that campaigns to hold corporations accountable on a variety of global issues such as climate change, workers’ rights, discrimination, human rights, corruption, and corporate power grab.

Facebook declined to comment on the proposal, but it’s likely to issue a statement when it files a proxy filing in April, as is per standard practice with shareholder proposals.

Lisa Lindsley, the capital markets advisor for SumOfUs, told VentureBeat that 333,000 people signed the petition requesting Facebook improve its corporate citizenship, but 1,500 were actual shareholders in the company. “The shares held by four individual SumOfUs members enabled us to file this proposal,” she said.

The proposal cites the new capital structure approved by Facebook last year as an example of where there was an imbalance of power. During the company’s shareholder meeting in June, participants were asked to vote on a proposal to issue Class C shares in a bid to keep Zuckerberg in control. Although approved, Facebook is dealing with litigation brought on by at least one shareholder who claimed it was an unfair deal.

Issuing the Class C shares was intended to help Zuckerberg continue his long-term vision and “encourage” him to remain involved with the company over the long term. The plan came after the Facebook CEO announced in 2015 that he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, would be giving away 99 percent of his family’s shares to various groups in a bid to promote child equality.

The proposal states that shareholder value will be enhanced with an independent board chair “who can provide a balance of power between the CEO and the board and support strong board leadership.” It goes on to assert that this individual would be “particularly constructive” at a time when Facebook “faces increasing criticism regarding its perceived role in the promotion of misleading news; censorship, hate speech and alleged inconsistencies in the application of Facebook’s community standards guidelines and content policies; targeting of ad views based on race; collaboration with law enforcement and other government agencies; and calls for public accountability regarding the human rights impacts of Facebook’s practices.”

Having someone be both the CEO and chairperson isn’t a unique situation for companies, as Tesla, Bank of America, the Walt Disney Company, IBM, Amazon, Netflix, and Salesforce all have one person sitting in both roles.

It’s doubtful that Facebook will acquiesce to the group’s demand, especially since Zuckerberg is one of the largest shareholders and could strike the proposal down easily, along with other allied investors. There are those who think having the founder in charge is a good thing for the company, especially as it pursues the goal of being first in virtual reality and video. Additionally, it’s not as if Facebook is in a precarious financial situation: Its stock continues to go up — its last earnings results surpassed what Wall Street analysts had expected, and the company appears in fine shape to compete against Snap after finally finding its groove in the ephemeral messaging space.

But what SumOfUs is probably worried about is the likelihood of Zuckerberg taking Facebook down a path he believes is right, but putting too much of the company behind it, which may result in damaging impact on shareholder value. Having an independent chairperson could stem that, according to the proposal.

Should Facebook implement this proposal, it would be an additional independent director joining Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Reed Hastings, Erskine Bowles, Marc Andreessen, and Peter Thiel on the board.

Lindsley acknowledges the uphill battle in getting the SumOfUs proposal approved when the company convenes its annual investor meeting: “This shareholder resolution, like most shareholder resolutions, is advisory in nature,” she said. “There could be a 99 percent vote in favor of it and the board would not be under legal obligation to implement it.  However, most competent board members realize that it is unwise to ignore the voice of the shareholders whose interests they are charged with representing.”



Jordan’s flag carrier airline, Royal Jordanian, took to social media on Monday to lure potential passengers to use its services in a humorous, if controversial, advertisement published on the airline’s official Twitter account.


Referencing US President Donald Trump’s most recent attempt to reinstate a ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US, the advertisement called on residents of these countries to fly with Royal Jordanian to the US “now that you’re allowed to.”

The travel ban, which some media outlets have been referring to as the “Muslim Ban,” was blocked by US federal judge James Robart on Friday.

In a clever word play, the advertisement wished travelers a “good journey” as part of the expression ‘Bon Voyage,’ with the word ban emphasized in red letters. The letter ‘A’ was crossed out from the word ‘ban,’ thus turning it into the French word ‘bon.’

While the advertisement took many by surprise and sparked lively dialogue on social media, some noted that this was not the first time that the airline carrier reacted to American politics and in particular to steps taken by President Trump.

On November 8, 2016, hours before voting day drew to a close, Royal Jordanian posted another tongue-in-cheek advertisement, urging passengers to fly to the US before Trump could be elected, predicting that the latter would act to promote the immigration ban as he promised repeatedly throughout his campaign.

In December 2015, Trump, who was then the Republican presidential candidate, stressed what he deemed an urgent need for a travel ban, saying that “until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

Offering last-minute flights, the elections day tweet by Royal Jordanian read: “Just in case he wins… Travel to the US while you’re still allowed to!”

With its new tool, Facebook is pushing everyone to make new friends

Facebook’s new social discovery tool is the closest the platform has ever come to offering something that resembles a dating service.

Facebook is rolling out a new tool to help you make friends with users of its massive social network.

Much like the contact and profile suggestions you’d find on the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter, the new “Discover People” feature suggests people you have something in common with. For example, it could match you with users based on the city you live in, Facebook groups you belong to, events you’ve shown an interest in, and work colleagues.

The tool is tucked away in the “more” menu navigation tab on the Facebook mobile apps, below “friends,” “events,” “groups,” “nearby places,” and other functions. Facebook has confirmed that Discover People just started rolling out and will gradually be available to all iOS and Android users, TechCrunch reports.

More: Haters gonna date: This app finds you love based on your dislikes

When you open “Discover People,” you’ll see at the top of the display a message asking you to “introduce yourself” so “people can get to know you better.” If you click on your profile picture, Facebook will direct you to another screen where you can add a short bio, another swipe to the left will ask you to add featured photos.

The friend suggestions are available back at the start screen — scroll down the page and you’ll be able to access the groups you’re a member of, and a separate section titled “Discover People.” Tap to make your selection and Facebook will present you with a series of user profiles you can swipe through and connect with. It will all be very familiar to anyone that has used a dating app such as Tinder, but (for now) it seems Facebook’s intention is only to help you to meet users based on your location and common interests. The rest is up to you.

The feature seems to be an extension of Facebook’s “people you may know” tool for desktop, which previously came under fire when a report alleged it used location data to make its suggestions. Facebook claimed the information in the article was inaccurate, and specifically “denied using device location and location information you add to your profile.”

Does the update border on the creepy? Will it make you feel like a stalker? We’ll leave that up to you to decide. Facebook, however, insists that it is still not using your location data: “We only use what city you say is your current city on your profile,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends. “If your setting is private, you can still use people discovery to find other people who are also in the city you listed, but other people cannot find you based on your current city.”

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War Is Peace: White Freemason Donald Trump Tweets Iran Has Been Put “on Notice” as Israel To Nominate Him for Nobel Peace Prize


by Melissa Dykes of The Daily Sheeple

Well, it’s only been two weeks, and already the new Trump administration is beating away at the war drums and preparing us all for the next big war.

As Activist Post’s Brandon Turbeville reported,

Today, February 2, Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, rabid anti-Iran warmonger, Michael Flynn, delivered a stern and open warning to Iran, officially “putting Iran on notice.” Thus, it seems that the United States is setting its sights on the next piece of the geopolitical puzzle before the ultimate goal of Russia and world hegemony is to be recognized.

Flynn cited only two justifications for his threat, neither of which are logical or anything but unproven allegations…

Of course. Iran has long been a target in the global game of Risk the US has been playing for some time. See “Which Path to Persia” for more on that. There’s a reason Trump specifically chose the seven countries he did for his travel ban, ever-so-conspicuously leaving off Saudi Arabia and the UAE…

Trump did talk a lot about Iran in the debates as well, but just in case you think can’t-wait-to-start-dropping-bombs Flynn is out there on his own with this, Trump backed up the news with a few Tweets of his own for good measure, with one key phrase in all caps:

Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!

Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion

Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!

So, there’s that. […]

Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!

.@realDonaldTrump Warning, white wrkg class, its YOUR sons/daughters, not the rich’s, who this maniac’ll send 2 fight & die in battle

Now, do you think it’s even remotely a coincidence this news came out the day after it was reported Israel plans to nominate Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize right out of the gate?

We’re jumping the shark… please stand by…

So war = peace. How perfectly Orwellian.

Well, Trump did also state that he wanted to be America’s most pro-Israel presidential candidate ever (start this recording around 1:35) according to Trump’s Pick for Israel Ambassador and Co-Chairman of his Israel Advisory Committee David Friedman… It would seem threatening war with Iran is a way to be that.

If you’ll recall, Obama received his peace prize right out of the gate as well, and we all know who he spent the next eight years drone bombing.

Iran, it would appear, is next. As if we haven’t been told over and over and over.


This is in addition to Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon just announcing that the US will (not maybe, WILL) be going to war with China in the next 10 years “no doubt,” and that’s in addition to mentioning another “major” war in the Middle East as well.

Gee… what could he mean?

So the agenda continues. America is being prepped for war.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Sheeple.

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

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)

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)

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.

President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea 🇮🇱🇺🇸

On January 28, Netanyahu entered the discussion when he tweeted, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

Netanyahu added the Israeli and US flags to his tweet.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the Israeli government should apologize and “correct” its position, adding that his government has supported Israel in the international arena.

Rittner, the Mexican rabbi, said in his statement that the prime minister’s support for a wall stood in contradiction of “the Jewish principles of brotherhood and justice, and on the other hand showed an unawareness respecting the situation between the two countries.

“Mexico is not at war with its neighbor. On the contrary, until a few days ago, we were working on issues to draw us together, improve living conditions and build a better future for our countries.”

Mexicans prepare to set fire to an effigy depicting then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during Holy Week celebrations in Mexico City on March 26, 2016. (Yuri Cortez/AFP)

The Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico said in a weekend statement: “We strongly reject (Netanyahu’s) position.”

On the same day as Netanyahu’s tweet, four leaders of the Mexican Jewish community issued a statement of disapproval.

“As Mexicans and as Jews, we support the actions taken by our government headed by [President] Enrique Pena Nieto in its negotiations with the United States,” the statement read. “We support our fellow citizens who live in, work in and contribute to our neighboring country, whose human rights must be respected at all times and who must be treated with dignity.”

The statement was issued by Moises Romano, president of the Comite Central de la Comunidad Judia de Mexico; Mauricio Lulka, director general of the Comite Central; Elias Achar, president of Tribuna Israelita; and Renee Dayan-Shabot, director of Tribuna Israelita.

Mexican Jewish community leader Salomon Achar (YouTube screenshot)

In an email to The Times of Israel, Dayan-Shabot said that the Mexican Jewish community was not making any additional statements at this time.

Netanyahu’s tweet was also met with disapproval in the streets of Mexico City’s wealthy Polanco district, home to a vibrant Jewish community, synagogues and kosher shops.

One shop manager, who, like many in the Jewish community refused to give his name, said Mexican Jews “have nothing to do with the opinion of this man [Netanyahu].”

A 53-year-old Jewish man who was heading to a synagogue said: “What Netanyahu said was not very sensitive. It was very unfortunate given what is going on in the world. He lost a great opportunity to stay silent.”

Some in the Mexican Jewish community looked for a silver lining in the planned border wall.

Commentator Leo Zuckermann wondered “If there is something positive for Mexico in the rise of Trump” in a January 26 article on the Diario Judio website.

“There exists a positive aspect for Mexico in the rise of Donald Trump to the US presidency and his threat to close the doors to exports and Mexican migrants,” Zuckermann wrote. “It will force us to look at ourselves in the mirror, examine our problems and find solutions to have a better economic development.”

A community of immigrants

More than 67,000 people practiced Judaism in Mexico during the last national census in 2010, compared to 92 million Roman Catholics, the country’s main religion.

Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the inquisition arrived in Mexico with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, but many continued to suffer persecution in their new homeland.

Jews from other parts of Europe migrated to Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th century. Others came from the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus.

Mexico City's economic development secretary, Salomon Chertorivsky, a descendent of Ukrainian and Polish Jewish immigrants (CC-BY, via flikr)

Mexico City’s economic development secretary, Salomon Chertorivsky, a descendent of Ukrainian and Polish Jewish immigrants, recalled that the Latin American nation embraced his ancestors by giving their new opportunities.

“For the thousands of stories like [my] family’s story … the prime minister’s tweet is condemnable to me,” Chertorivsky wrote on Twitter.

“I don’t understand how somehow who today governs people who suffered the worst persecution can celebrate the persecution of another population, ours, the Mexicans,” he said.

Another city official, Simon Levy, directed a tweet at Netanyahu, saying “Mexicans seek peace and prosperity. As a Mexican Jew I regret your position. It doesn’t bring peace.”

Good fences make good neighbors?

Israel built a more than 150-mile (240-kilometer) barrier along its border with Egypt, blocking a route previously taken by many African illegal migrants and traffickers. Trump hailed the Israeli wall as an example last week, prompting Netanyahu to apparently express his support for the new US president’s plan, though two days later the Israeli leader denied he was referring to Mexico and accused “the left-wing media” of attacking him.

Palestinian worshippers climb over a section of Israel's separation barrier from the West Bank village of A-Ram towards Jerusalem on their way to pray in the Al Aqsa Mosque, Friday, Oct. 20, 2006. (Credit Pierre Terdjman / Flash90)

US-Mexican relations plunged into the worst crisis in decades last week after Trump ordered the construction of the wall to stop illegal immigration and insisted that Mexico will pay for it. Known for his condemnations, Trump has also found occasion to praise Mexico.

In his Phoenix speech, he said: “I’ve just landed having returned from a very important and special meeting with the president of Mexico, a man I like and respect very much. And a man who truly loves his country, Mexico.”

Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, and then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shake hands after a joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City this past August. (AP/Marco Ugarte)

Trump said he and Pena Nieto “agree on the importance of ending the illegal flow of drugs, cash, guns, and people across our border, and to put the cartels out of business.”

And, he said, “We also discussed the great contributions of Mexican-American citizens to our two countries, my love for the people of Mexico, and the leadership and friendship between Mexico and the United States. It was a thoughtful and substantive conversation and it will go on for awhile. And, in the end we’re all going to win. Both countries, we’re all going to win.”


Mexican wall

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)

A tweet by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backing US President Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along its border with Mexico has triggered a wave of online antisemitism, according to Rabbi Shlomo Tawil, chief rabbi of the Magen David Jewish community of Mexico.
In an interview with Army Radio on Monday morning, Tawil noted that while antisemitism is usually rare in Mexico, the tweet instantly “awakened a lot of antisemitism here on the social media networks.”
The moment the prime minister tweeted, he said, comments against Jews and Israel began to appear, with statements such as “out Jews” targeting the community. Tweets included calls to “burn the Jews,” while others called Jews “disgusting” or used more vulgar language to describe them.
Netanyahu’s incendiary tweet on Saturday night read: “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 flag and an American flag.
The tweet was immediately denounced by the Mexican government and the Mexican-Jewish community.
The Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities in Mexico, promptly released a statement distancing Mexican Jews from Netanyahu’s statement. “We do not agree with his point of view and we strongly reject his position,” the statement read. Mexico’s Jewish community comprises some 50,000 people.
“As Mexicans and Jews, we support the actions taken by our government, led by President Enrique Peña Nieto, in the negotiations with the US. We stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens who live, work and contribute to the neighboring country, whose human rights should be respected at all times and who should receive dignified treatment,” the group added.
Patricia Bialek, a member of the Mexican coast city Puerto Vallarta’s small Jewish community, described Netanyahu’s statement as “problematic,” and said it was unfortunate that a statesman at his level publicly backed Trump’s position on the matter. She told The Jerusalem Post that while the US has an undeniable right to defend its borders and an unquestionable right to build a wall, “no leader of any other country should support a measure that raises a very important humanitarian question for both countries.”
She added that while Mexicans are good people and don’t generally harbor negative feelings toward Jews, they are very sensitive about matters of nationalism. “Therefore, Netanyahu’s words are very problematic for the Jewish community in Mexico, because they can generate an aggression against the Jewish community in Mexico,” she said. “Mexicans always consider ‘others’ as ‘others.’”
But Isaac Ajzen, director of the Jewish Mexican “Diario Judio” website, said that while antisemitism may not be common in Mexico, it does exist, and every time Israel does something with which antisemites disagree, they use it as ammunition.
“They use it like any other opportunity to say things about Jews. There are people who use antisemitism like anti-Israel opinion, or people who use anti-Israel opinion like antisemitism,” he told the Post, adding that some people perceive Mexican Jews as prioritizing Israel over Mexico.
Although his own website was the target of multiple antisemitic tweets, Ajzen pointed out that the Mexican Jewish community had also received a lot of positive response, particularly to its statement against Netanyahu’s tweet, which was published in newspapers across the country.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray was among the public officials who thanked the Jewish community for its statement, praising its contributions to the country and stressing that it is an integral part of the Mexican population. “We are with the Mexicans because we are Mexicans,” Ajzen said.
In addition to the community’s official statement, many Mexican Jewish public figures took to Twitter to express their outrage with Netanyahu’s tweet.
“I can’t begin to conceive how @netanyahu, a PM of a historically persecuted nation, can celebrate the persecution of another,” tweeted Mexico City Economic Development Secretary Salomón Chertorivski, who is of Jewish origin.
Mexican academic and commentator Leo Zuckerman appealed to President Reuven Rivlin: “As the state head of Israel, I ask you, as a Mexican, to correct the position of PM @netanyahu about a wall in our border.”
“As a Mexican Jew, grandchild of immigrants: I’m ashamed of this tweet,” wrote author León Krauze, while his father, Enrique Krauze, a well-known historian, wrote, “I repudiate, deplore, reject this infamous statement.”