His presence was to have been a sign that Arabs acknowledge that the Holocaust also took place in Arab lands, but Ahmed el-Habassi of Tunisia decided not to show up at a Jerusalem conference on North African Jewry in the Second World War. Tunisia was the only Arab country to have been occupied directly by the Nazis, if only for six months. The Jerusalem Post reports:
“The Tunisian representative to the Palestinian Authority has abruptly cancelled his attendance at an international Holocaust conference this week in Jerusalem, organizers said Monday.
“The three-day event, which began Monday evening at Jerusalem’s Yad Ben Zvi Institute, focuses on the fate of the Jews of North Africa during World War II.
“Tunisia’s representative to the PA, Ahmed el-Habassi, had been scheduled to deliver remarks at the conference’s opening session.
“His decision to skip the event followed a report about his attendance in The Jerusalem Post earlier this month, a spokesman for the Yad Ben Zvi Institute said Monday.
“Habassi’s planned attendance at the event evidently rankled other Arab countries and embarrassed him, Israeli officials said.
“Habassi did not return calls for comment on Monday.”