Now don’t all rush back at once, will you? Tunisia’s newly elected president called Monday for the country’s Jewish population to return, in statements carried by the state news agency.
(Associated Press): During a meeting with the country’s Grand Rabbi Haim Bittan, President Moncef Marzouki said that Tunisia’s Jews are full citizens and those that had left were welcome to return. His comments come almost two weeks after Israeli deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom called on the country’s remaining Jews to emigrate to Israel.
Tunisia presently has a Jewish population of 1,500, but in the 1960s there were 100,000. Most left following the 1967 war* between Israel and Arab countries, and Socialist economic policies adopted by the government in the late 1960s also drove many Jewish business owners out of the country.
The rise of Islamists prompted Shalom — during a Dec. 6 memorial ceremony for Tunisian Jews who died in the Holocaust— to call on Tunisia’s Jewsto flee the country for the safety of Israel.
The Islamist Ennahda Party has stated that Jews in Tunisia are full citizens with full rights. A number of prominent Jews in the country have rejected Shalom’s call.
*Not true. Most left in the 1950s and early 60s.