Tunisian Jews shaken after Haniyeh tour

Tunisian Jews are far from convinced by the reassurances of the Ennahda Islamist party leader, Rashid Ghannouchi, condemning the anti-Jewish chants which greeted Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, on his arrival in Tunisia. Too little, too late, says one Jew, interviewed by Kouichi Shiranayagi for Tunisia Live:

In the aftermath of Gaza based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s visit to Tunisia, the Tunisian Jewish community is shaken, looking for answers and hoping the Tunisian government will act quickly to address the community’s fears.

Many in the small community feel the Tunisian government was slow to condemn violent chants of “kick the Jews- it’s our religious duty,” “expel the Jews- it’s our religious duty,” and “kill the Jews- it’s our religious duty”by a group attending the welcoming ceremony of Haniyeh at the Tunis Carthage Airport.

Ennahda officials have condemned the anti-Jewish chants as isolated incidents not reflecting the values of the the Ennahda Party. Rachid Ghannouchi the leader of Ennahda condemned the anti-Jewish slogans as unrepresentative of the spirit of Islam or it’s teachings. He attributed the slogans to a fringe handful of individuals aiming to undermine the image of Ennahda among hundreds who came to welcome Haniyeh. “Ennahda calls on Tunisians of all faiths to stand together and be united for the good of the country,” he said.

However, to many in the Jewish community the visit of Haniyeh has brought them new found fear.

Ezekiel Haddad is a Djerba based Hebrew teacher. “I don’t understand why the Tunisian government allowed someone with no political legitimacy to come to Tunisia and get the opportunity to tour the country with the welcome that he got,” Haddad lamented.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali (Left) with Senior Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh (Right)

While many Western governments have widely praised Tunisia’s post-revolution transition, their much needed support to Tunisia could be lost by visits of leaders of what they consider to be terrorist organizations like Haniyeh’s according to Haddad.

“Why is the Tunisian government destroying the goodwill with the world Tunisia has been building since the revolution?” Haddad asked. ”I don’t have a problem with Haniyeh visiting Tunisia as a person but I disagree with the way his visit brought together the worst people in Tunisian society,” he said.

Haniyeh’s five day visit in Tunisia included meetings with officials in the Tunisian government, visits to cities that played a critical role in the Tunisian Revolution such as Sidi Bouzid and Kassrine, visits to Tunisian historical centers of Islamic significance such as the Mosque of Oqba Ibn Nafaa in Kairouan and large rallies promoting Hamas.

The statements currently coming from the government have been too little, too late according to Haddad. He wants the recently elected Constituent Assembly to open an investigation into what happened during Haniyeh’s visit and try those who chanted the hateful slogans.

“I want the people who shouted ‘kill the Jews’ punished,” Haddad said “All the Jews in Djerba are scared, uptight, and uncomfortable with what has happened, very few will speak truthfully of their level of fear now.”

While Haddad was willing to be named for this story, a Djerbian based jeweler was not.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not our problem,” he complained.

Senior Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh with Ennahda Spokesman Samir Dilou

“I have grown up my whole life breaking bread with my Muslim neighbors, living freely with my Muslim friends. Tunisia has always been an open society and this visit by Haniyeh has caught our community completely by surprise.” The jeweler stressed that Islam does not call for killing people “rabi yuster (may god protect us from a possible calamity).”

However, the Jeweler believes that since the government was slow to act against the violent chanting, there is a strong possibility that the government really has no problem with the violent chants. ”We don’t know what the government is going to do, they need to punish those who made those chants but since they have not they are tacitly endorsing their message– that’s a big problem.”

Read article in full

Tunisian Jews fearful after Haniyeh visit (Harry’s Place)


  • Naoufel,

    While I admit that Tunisia did more to protect its Jewish citizens than other Arab countries, let's not forget that violence against the Jews did take place in the 1950s and 1960s, especially in the aftermath of the 1967 War. Also the violent attacks in Zarzis in 1982, and the synagogue massacres in 1985 and 2002. In addition, we all saw the Youtube videos of the people chanting "Khaybar Khaybar Ya Yahud" during the revolution. So it's understandable that Tunisian Jews feel insecure and threatened.

  • Naufal
    You say that you have lived with Tunisian Jews on Djerba and that they are safe. In the next sentence you say that you are against Zionists in Israel. These are the brothers and cousins of your Jewish neighbours on Djerba. Why does your country criminalise Jews for living In Israel?
    What's more, the Hamas supporters at Tunis airport were not shouting 'death to Zionists!' – they were shouting 'death to Jews!'That's why Jews in Tunisia do not trust Ennahda to keep them safe.

  • Jews in Tunisia existed more than 2000 years ago even before israel get born, none of the Tunisian community harassed them or discriminate them. if so give me your evidence.

    Tunisia is supporting its Jewish citizens but not the Zionists in Israel and always will be.

    So please stop telling me that there is massacre going to happen when Ennahdha took the power.

    I lived my hole life door to door with Jewish people in Djerba and nothing happen.

    This is a proof that Tunisia is a peaceful country and it's getting it's peace from citizens and the citizens has chosen Ennahda the Islamist party. so stop boycotting them.

    Naufal from Djerba

  • I am surprised that we have not heard strong condemnations from Moncef Marzuki, who is now the President of Tunisia. Moncef Marzuki was human rights activist before he became President so, if only out of habit, he should have said something.

    And no, these people are not going to be "punished".

    Ghannouchi is every bit of a jew-hater as they are.

  • Norman
    You're not in their shoes and so you can't judge.
    It is sometimes difficult to just get up and leave.

  • OT:
    The top Economist of Excellence Nessuah Investment House, Shlomo Maoz, was fired by the investment company for saying today out-loud what many people say out-loud anyway and what I said just yesterday (though in much fewer words) on this blog: "you go to Bank Leumi, they're all white Ashkenazis, you go to the Supreme Court, they're all Ashkenazis" and you don't stand a chance to get your foot in the door if you're something else. His words were greeted with applause by the 100 Business administration students present except for one person: Daphni Lif of the Rothchild social protest July 14.

    The hypocrisy of the Israeli media is absolutely mindboggling:

    When Sephardi ultra-Orthodox girls were excluded from a Haredi school just for being who they are, they were silent.

    When the scandal of women exclusion by Haredis came to light, they all hurried to join the anti-Haredi posse.

    When Ethiopians protested (today) at the Knesset about housing discrimination, they politely empathized.

    But when Shlomo Maoz, a brillant and widely respected economist decries what we all know and freely criticizes the situation, he gets fired!

    This story has been repeated at every newscast this afternoon and the Israeli media is furious and very critical of the statements he made.

  • These dhimmi Jews should wake up and face the music now and make aliyah for Israel. If they stay despite clear warnings of what is to come, no one should shed a tear for them if they get slaughtered.

    The Islamists in Tunisia are neither democrats nor friends of the Jews. Their "assurances" are worthless.


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