The 20 Israeli tourists on board a Norwegian cruise ship were not allowed to disembark in Tunisia upon arrival on a recent cruise. They were not told when purchasing their tickets that they would be confined to the ship during this stop. Along with all the other tourists, the Israeli vacationers planned to get off the ship at the Port of Tunis when they were finally notified at the last minute that the Tunisian government did not welcome them.
“The cruise line had a responsibility to its passengers and advise them of this discriminatory policy in advance,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant said in a statement. “Better still the cruise line should avoid ports that have such policies.”
Like other Middle Eastern countries, the anti-Semitic atmosphere in Tunisia has caused a massive Jewish exodus over the years. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, “In 1948, the Jewish population was an estimated 105,000, but by 1967, most Tunisian Jews had left the country for France or Israel, and the population had shrunk to 20,000. As of 2012, however, the population had shrunk to an estimated 150 Jews with another approximately 1,000 on the resort island of Djerba, comprising the country’s largest indigenous religious minority.” (These specific population numbers vary depending on the source. Some say there are around 2000 in Djerba, but either way, still a low number.)
The Jewish history of Tunisia is a complicated story, with times when Jews were allowed to flourish and times of persecution. During the 12th Century for example, the Muslim leadership gave Jews the choice to convert or die, while many were sold into slavery. Jews were also made to pay a special jizya tax to the Muslims.
In more recent times, during WWII, Tunisia fell into the hands of Nazi Germany, which proceeded to treat the Jewish population with the same hatred as in Europe- they were forced to wear the yellow Star of David, their money and valuables were stolen and some were forced into labor camps. After the Germans left, Jewish life returned to relative normality, but not for long. Read more about the history of Jews in Tunisia.
An article from October of last year explains how Jews in Tunisia believe they are in danger. There have been attacks on Jews, and the previous year an imam called for a “‘divine genocide’ of the Jews in a sermon. Despite the fact that incitement to racial hatred is punishable by up to three years in prison in Tunisia, the imam has not been prosecuted…”
This “divine genocide” exists in the Al Gharqad hadith, which teaches Muslims to kill Jews:
“Judgment Day will come only when the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, until the Jew hides behind the tree and the stone, and the tree and the stone say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah , there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’ – except for the Gharqad tree.”
This hadith is preached on Arab television and is used by groups like Hamas to incite hatred and violence against Jews. But it is not only used by extremists. Muslim clerics worldwide preach the death and destruction of Jews and of the Jewish State.
This recent episode in Tunisia is just one more injustice on a long list of Muslim hatred toward Jews.
By: Rachel Molschky