These same groups, led by Tlemcen native Andre Charbit, had wanted to repeat their 2005 pilgrimage. Charbit had then headed a group of 220 pilgrims, the largest group of Jews to visit Algeria since independence. They flew to Tlemcen aboard a special Air Algerie flight. The visit created widespread media interest.
Sources say that public opinion and the political class rejected the idea following the free Gaza flotilla incident, in which Algerian 'activists' took part.
Anti-Jewish Algerians believe that these types of visits on the human and tourist level may hide attempts to drag Algeria towards normalisation with Israel - a prospect Algeria officially refuses to countenance.
Algerian officials believe that the 2011 festival celebrating 'Tlemcen, capital of Islamic culture' is incompatible with a visit from a group of Jews who consider the site the second most holy in North Africa after the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba (Tunisia).