Tunisian Jews Love Their Uprising Like Everyone Else

Tunisian Jews are part of the popular uprising, not victims of it, said the Roger Bismuth, president of the Jewish community, about the North African country that booted out dictator Zine Abidine Ben Ali two months ago in a dramatic rebellion that inspired the citizens in other Arab countries to do the same.

There have been only two notable acts of anti-Semitism in the past two months- far from the dire predictions that Islamism would take over the country and vehemently target Jews.

“As Jews we are part of the revolution and we are all happy that the dictatorship has gone. There’s been nothing against the Jews but the fear does exist that someone might take advantage of it,” Bismuth told The Jerusalem Post over the phone on Tuesday.

One anti-Semitic event happened in January when a synagogue near the island of Jerba burned down- but it’s unclear if that was simply vandalism. The second event occurred two weeks ago when a few dozen Muslims “screamed that they hated Jews” for about six minutes in front of a Tunis synagogue before leaving, said Bismuth.

Only one Jewish family left since the uprising, and around 1500 Jews remain in the country, mostly near Jerba and some in Tunis. The Jewish Agency for Israel told The Jerusalem Post that the family left because of a long-time plan to make aliya and the move was unrelated to the unrest.

An ancient Jewish community, the population dropped from 100, 000 to 20, 000 in the two and a half decades from the 1940s to the 1960s, when the government sanctioned persecution against the Jews, reports The Jerusalem Post.

Ben Ali granted protection to them and many were worried that with him gone, attacks on Jews would start up. “We will remain vigilant,” Bismuth told The Jerusalem post. “But so far there have been no attacks on Jews.”


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