Sunday, April 25, 2010

Party calls for ban on Israeli pilgrims to Djerba

The scene at the height of the annual Al-Ghriba pilgrimage (photo: AFP)

Antisemitic feeling seems to be mounting lately in Tunisia, one of the more 'moderate' of Arab states: an opposition party has called for the government to ban Israeli tourists from coming to the island of Djerba for the annual three-day Lag La'omer Al-Ghriba pilgrimage, due to begin on 30 April. And last Friday, two Israeli contestants were refused visas to a judo competition being held in Tunisia.

On 14 April Maya Jribi, the secretary-general of the leftist Progressive Democratic Party called on the government to ban Israeli tourists from the pilgrimage to the Al-Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, one of the highlights of the Tunisian tourist calendar. The pilgrimage traditionally attracts thousands of tourists from France and Israel.

The two judokas, Arik Zeevi et Alice Shlessinger, were refused entry to heats leading up to the European championship. Arik Zeevi is himself of Tunisian origin. The Israeli Judo Federation is appealing to the World Federation, claiming the ban 'is against the spirit of sportsmanship and unfairly singles out Israel.'

In an altogether more bizarre instance of Tunisian bigotry, journalists and intellectuals lambasted Mohamed Zran for including a sympathetic portrait of a Jew in his documentary film Zarzis (Vivre Ici).

Critics objected to the fact that the Tunisian Jew Simon, a grocer and chemist,was 'projecting a positive image of the Jews, while Jews themselves denigrate the image of Arabs and Muslims'.

According to Souhail Ftouh, a Tunisian who runs a pro-Jewish website:,"this is just one more pretext provided by the Israel-Palestine conflict to demonise the Jews and present them as devillish and perverse. These (intellectuals) find their inspiration in the worst of sources, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the obscene cartoons in the Arabic press, the overblown programmes on the Hezbollah TV channel and the warlike preaching of racist and hysterical commentators (... ) It's sad for the whole of Tunisia because there is no excuse for the preaching of hatred, aversion, contempt, disdain and lack of respect. People like this brought on the Holocaust."


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

We learn that the leftist "Progressive Democratic" party wants to ban Jewish tourists from visiting the synagogues on Djerba. This ought to remind us again that the notion of a "left-right" political spectrum has long ago become obsolete, indeed ridiculous.

Then we have "journalists and intellectuals" criticizing a film director for depicting a Jew as a human being. So mankind has "progressed" into the Brave New World of the 21st century which seems to bear close resemblance to the 11th century.

bataween said...

well said Eliyahu.

I suppose the proposed ban is the Tunisian version of the BDS (Boycott Israel) campaign, which our leftwing unversities, churches and unions are pursuing with great zeal.

It never ceases to amaze me how few Arab intellectuals are prepared to stand up for the values of pluralism and liberal democracy.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

on the general subject of modern Arab Judeophobia, here is a video of three lectures at the Hebrew U, Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism.

The lecturers are Jeffrey Herf, Robert Wistrich, and Menahem Milson. It is all well documented and very interesting, and includes clips from Arab and Iranian TV. Herf talks about the WW2 period when German Nazi propaganda with the help of the Mufti Husseini, was accusing the British of having given out weapons to the Egyptian Jews to use to kill all the Arabs in Egypt.

Such hate propaganda may be even more intense today. And Obama claims that he can make peace in this swamp of hatred.

Neshama said...

Could be this is just a 'signal' for the Kohanim to leave and be in Yerushalayim, in anticipation of their renewed profession!