Edging the Jews out of Tunisia

Less than one per cent of the Jewish community remains in Tunisia. Their marginalisation and exodus is almost complete. Here is a useful timeline:

The Al-Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba

1881 French Protectorate established in Tunisia

1898 Fighting breaks out between Jews and Muslims. Jewish homes looted, shops wrecked. 62 Muslims, 20 Jews sentenced.

1910 Agudat Tsion founded, 1920 Federation of Zionist organisations

1917 Arab soldiers returning from WW1 riot against Jews who are exempt from army service. Looting, rapes and beatings. One dead, 8 wounded.

1923 Liberalisation of French nationality. By WW2, 6,667 Jews had French passports.

1940 Vichy discriminatory laws exclude Jews from public service, Jewish Community Council abolished, inventory of Jewish property drawn up.

May 1941 Gabes pogrom. 7 Jews die.

Nov 1942 Nazi occupationof Tunisia begins. Italian nationals come under Fascist racial laws. Nazis demand that the Jewish community raise  88 million francs . 2,000 Jews sent to forced labour camps. 60 deaths from aerial bombardment.

April 1943 Aerial deportation to European death camps of 40 Jews. 17 survive.

1948 -49 Of 100, 000 Jews, 6, 200  emigrate to Israel illegally. Jewish Agency takes over legal migration. 25, 000 emigrate between 1948 – 55.

1952 attempted pogrom against Tunis hara thwarted by self- defence groups

1952 – 57 10, 000 emigrate to France

1952 bloody nationalist riots

1954 Yom Kippur declared an official holiday

20 March 1956 Tunisia declares its independence. Rise of pro-Nasser movement.

1956 Europeans and Jews attacked and robbed during period of lawlessness

1957 Jewish ministers Andre Bessis and Andre Baruch appointed. President Bourguiba visits Tunis hara. Jews begin to join ruling Neo-Destour party. A minority of Jews are Communists.

1957 old Tunis Jewish cemetery expropriated

1957 Beth Din religious courts abolished

1958 temporary religious commissions replace Jewish Community Councils

1960 postal links with Israel suspended

 1960 Old Great Synagogue of Tunis demolished

1959 exchange controls introduced

1961 Bizerte affair. French-Tunisian clashes lead to anti-Jewish reaction. 15, 000 Jews leave.

1962 10, 000 Jews leave for France with one dinar and 11.75 francs in their pockets.

1962 – 63 European and Jewish firms nationalised.

1967 an ageing population of 26,000 Jews remains

6 June 1967 shops looted and  Great Synagogue sacked. 18,000 Jews flee, 63 percent for France

1976 6,700 Jews remain in Tunisia: 1,100 in Djerba, 4,600 in Tunis. Emigrants go mainly to Israel

1982 PLO establishes offices in Tunisia. More Jews leave

1985 several Jews murdered

1974 ORT school closes

With acknowledgements to  Les juifs en Tunisie jusqu’a nos jours by Paul Sebag and L‘echec de l’integration des juifs de Tunisie by Jacques Taieb in La fin du Judaisme en terres d’Islam (ed S Trigano)

Other timelines: Yemen 






One Comment

  • Now, by the end of 2015, almost all Jews have been "ethnically cleansed" or pressed to flee all Arab countries where they once constituted substantial minorities. How can this be explained except by Arab bigotry? Or Islamic bigotry?


    Here is part of the explanation of Arab-Muslim bigotry.
    Zionists are Jews who have betrayed the dhimma. Thus, their lives are forfeit. Islam does not recognize "innocent civilians." But the hypocritical West wants Israel to treat Arab terrorists as innocent civilians.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.