Arsonists torch Tunisian synagogue in Gabes

The tomb of Rabbi Yosef Maaravi, adjacent to the synagogue which was thought to have been burnt

Update: Jewish community leader denies attack was antisemitism (Jerusalem Post)

A Jewish official in Tunisia on Tuesday said that the burning to the ground of a building which served as a synagogue in the south of the country was not an attack on the local Jewish community.

Roger Bismuth, the president of the Jewish community in Tunisia, told The Jerusalem Post that the fire which broke out at a makeshift Jewish place of worship in the town of Ghabes was probably not an act of anti-Semitism but of vandalism.

“It was a room used as a synagogue by Jews who did not want to go to a synagogue which was far away ,” he said. “It is their fault, really, because they left it open. Some one must have. This is not an attack on the Jewish community.”

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‘I cannot confirm that synagogue was burnt down’ (Tunisian News agency) (with thanks: Sylvia)


Now they are turning against the Jews. News just in from AFP: (with thanks: Michelle)

Arsonists set fire to a synagogue in the southern Gabes region of Tunisia, a leader of the local Jewish community said Tuesday.

“Someone set fire to the synagogue on Monday night and the Torah scrolls were burned,” Trabelsi Perez told AFP, criticising the lack of action by the security services to stop the attack.

“What astonished me was that there were police not far from the synagogue,” added Perez, who is also head of the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, the oldest synagogue in Africa.

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Ftouh Souhail: windows smashed on three or four cars in the Jewish quarter of Djerba (French)


  • It seems that there is a lot more than meets the eye, of which the synagogue reports are only one elements. There have been other complaints of violence not directed at Jews, and possibly an attempted coup.

  • I visited the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba in late October 2010.The safety precautions were tight. Tourists paid one dinar to enter and were given souvenir picture postcards. A few men were praying and seemed oblivious to the packed audience. I hope the Tunisian officials are able to protect this house of worship.The destruction of the synagogue in Gabes is indeed a tragedy.

  • I believe there is about 1000 Jews left in Tunisia, where the majority lives in Djerba, 800 or 900 , most of them elder people from what I saw in 10 years ago when I visited it , the youth is gone .Djerbian Jews only speak Arabic or Hebrew .
    Tunisia is still under state of emergency, riots and protests here and there, curfews, police not on the streets to protect anyone (while the main medias are only concentrated in the chaos of Egypt), the country stand still , tourism industry stopped since( their major source of income) and is nearly broke, governement change day by day.
    They probably don't want this kind of news and bad publicity being spreaded around and asked Trabelsi to deny this news .
    According to what i read in Tunisian News he says he could not confirm it .

  • Sylvia
    I know Trabelsi has now denied the report, but you don't know if he did it to smooth relations over with the authorities.

  • I just don't understand the Jews in Arab lands. Maybe I'm a naive ashkenazi but if Hell boils over, I'd still stay away from muzlims and Arabs, let alone live in their midst – for as good as it may be for a while, the ayrabs will, sooner or later, let loose. They're not a very sound-minded people, and their culture is anything but crazy. These are a volatile, hateful people and Jews living in the midst of crazies, in my humble opinion, ought to know better.


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