What really happened at the El-Hamma synagogue?

Torah scroll at the nearby Gabes synagogue. Arsonists burnt another at the El-Hamma synagogue

With thanks: Ahoova

We now know what damage was done to El Hamma synagogue near Gabes a few days ago. Azria Ghozlane, the leader of the Jewish community of Gabes sent out his men to investigate and has now issued an official statement.

The security post, common parts, Ekhal (Ark) and a Torah scroll were reduced to ashes. Mr Ghozlane has vowed to restore the site.

The synagogue adjoins the tomb of Rabbi Yosef Ma’aravi. The tomb itself was unharmed.

Mr Ghozlane says that the Gabes Jewish community has instructed its lawyer to file a complaint to the authorities asking them to investigate if the attack was vandalism or antisemitism.

As soon as news of the attack filtered out, Tunisian Jewish leaders hastened to deny it was an anti-Jewish incident, but a random act of vandalism. Perez Trabelsi, who announced the attack, later said that the attack could not be confirmed.

Mr Ghozlane claims that the synagogue was not attacked on 31 January, but on 13 January, following the death of a French/Tunisian professor in the region. But if this was the case, why did it take 18 days for the attack to come to light?

Souhail Ftouh, a pro-Israeli Tunisian blogger, thinks the attack was more likely to have coincided with the return to Tunisia of Rashid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood.

The efforts of the Jewish leaders to relativise and downplay the attack was symptomatic of their ‘dhimmitude’ which will eventually result in Tunisia’s remaining 1,600 Jews leaving, as Jews and Christians have done elsewhere in the Arab world, Mr Ftouh remarked.

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