Entry of the German army into Tunisia, November 1942 (photo: Yad Ben Zvi)
A Tunisian group championing minority rights has co-sponsored a conference to ensure that Tunisia learns the lessons of the Holocaust, The Times of Israel reports.
Historians, scholars and authors spoke at
Saturday’s conference, which remembered the 5,000 Jews subjected to
forced labor in Tunisia during a six-month Nazi occupation of the
country in 1942-43. Some were deported to Nazi death camps on the
It was among the first events focusing on the Holocaust to be held in an Arab country.
The conference also memorialized Muslims who
saved Jews during the period, including Khaled Abdelwahhab, a Tunisian
who successfully hid more than 20 Jews from the Nazis in a factory on
The Tunisian Association Supporting
Minorities, a Tunis-based NGO that works to defend the rights of the
country’s tiny Jewish community, and the Foundation for Ethnic
Understanding, a New York-based group that focuses on Muslim-Jewish
relations, sponsored the conference.
The forum was part of FFEU’s annual
International Weekend of Twinning, during which thousands of Muslims and
Jews in more than 30 countries around the world held joint events
promoting Muslim-Jewish understanding and trust.
“Our work at this conference is to prevent
amnesia and to ensure that something as terrible as the Holocaust should
never happen again,” said Yasmina Thabet, head of the Tunisian
Association Supporting Minorities.
“The terrible events of 1942-43 show us that
we must be vigilant today in defending the rights of all Tunisians —
including Jews and other minorities — threatened by religious extremists
who in recent months have been allowed to attack their fellow citizens
with near impunity.”