Tunisian play grapples with persecution of Jews

A Mediterranean Theatre festival taking place in the once-overwhelmingly Jewish resort of La Goulette in Tunisia is featuring
what appears to be a thoughtful play on Jewish identity in the Arab
world, blogger Elder of Ziyon reveals. Although it is predictably anti-Zionist, Elder thinks ‘Joyev’ is rather remarkable since it deals with a subject which he believes has never been addressed in Arab arts: Jews persecuted in Arab countries. But the 2015 Egyptian TV series The Jewish Quarter broke new ground with its sympathetic Jewish characters.  

The Jewish characters from ‘Joyev’

The piece seems to be titled “Joyev” and it deals with Jews in a
fictional Jewish village during the Tunisian revolution. Parts of the
plot include a Jewish law student who was expelled from university
because of her religion, Jewish families who are too frightened to go
out into the streets for fear of the Arab mobs, and a Jew who wants to
smuggle out an ancient Torah to preserve it (presumably in Israel) while
others want it to go to a Tunisian museum because Jewish heritage is an
integral part of Tunisian history.

The piece is also predictably anti-Zionist, saying that Israel tries to
sow and exploit divisions among Jews in Tunisia to prompt them to make
aliyah.

But it asks basic questions of how to be a Jew in a country that has
treated Jews badly even though they have lived there for years; how Jews
grappled with the idea of emigrating to Europe when they were in
danger, the Jewish struggle to defend their country of birth when they
were marginalized. These are some serious topics and I have never seen
them addressed in Arabic arts.

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