Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador upset the country's Jewish community by accusing one of its members of thinking like Adolf Hitler.
Lopez Obrador made the first such comments on Wednesday, saying that columnist and analyst Carlos Alazraki, a critic of the president, was "Hitlerian."
Lopez Obrador referred to Alazraki after a video was shown during a regular government news conference of the latter in discussion with opposition politicians who said Mexico was allowing in undocumented migrants from Venezuela at a new airport. The government denies this.
"He is extremely conservative, like Hitlerian," Lopez Obrador said.
In a statement, the Jewish Community of Mexico rejected the use of the term "Hitlerian" to refer to anyone: "Any comparison with the most bloodthirsty regime in history is regrettable and unacceptable."
Some Mexican opposition politicians also took offense. "To call a prominent member of the Jewish community 'Hitlerian' is extremely grotesque and aberrant," opposition congressman Santiago Creel said in a tweet.
Lopez Obrador sticks by comments despite criticism
However, on Thursday, Lopez Obrador said he was right to compare Alazraki to Hitler for his political mindset, shrugging off a protest from the country's Jewish community.
The Mexican president returned to the matter during his regular news conference, saying "Alazraki is a follower of Hitler's thinking," and pointing to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and his use of lies to manipulate public opinion.
"This is the essence of Alazraki's publicity or propaganda strategy," said the president, who has regularly invoked Goebbels when seeking to discredit his critics.
To make his point, Lopez Obrador showed a brief 2021 video clip in which Alazraki said the key to beating the president's ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) electorally was to use lies and propaganda against it.
Alazraki says he forgave insults
Alazraki said his remarks in the clip were taken out of context, and that he was illustrating that to compete with MORENA, one had to use propaganda as Mexico's ruling party did.
Alazraki also posted a video on Twitter on Thursday condemning Lopez Obrador's remarks, underlining his opposition to his policies. He concluded by saying he forgave the president for the insults "because you don't know what you're doing."
Lopez Obrador observed that he had longstanding differences with Alazraki but expressed respect for the Jewish community. "I have very good friends in the Jewish community," he said.
According to official figures, almost 59,000 people who practice the Jewish religion live in Mexico.
Politicians of Jewish origin include Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, a close ally and potential successor of Lopez Obrador. Alazraki wrote on Twitter, "I am not Hitler, I am Jewish, just like Sheinbaum."