Interesting, isn’t it, that Tunisia’s government is all bent out of shape because the Israeli government is offering about $9,000 extra to Jews hoping to leave the protest-torn North African country and immigrate to Israel, JTA reported.
Since Tunisia is not known for any special affinity for Jews, I’m not sure what its government’s problem is. I mean, like most Arab/Muslim countries, Tunisians were more than happy to bid adieu the lion’s share of the nation’s Jews after the creation of the modern state of Israel. According to historical websites, there were about 105,000 Jews in Tunisia in 1948, and there are about 1,500 today.
Much of the decline is directly attributable to Tunisia’s treatment of its Jewish population – and it was not the worst offender by a long shot.
After Tunisia’s 1956 independence from France, a number of anti-Jewish policies were enacted that led to mass emigration. About half of those refugees went to Israel and the other half to France. In 1967, anti-Semitic attacks lead to increased Jewish emigration to both countries. There also were anti-Jewish attacks in Tunisia in 1982, 1985, and most recently in 2002 when a bomb near a synagogue killed 21 (mostly German tourists), in an Al-Qaeda-claimed terrorist attack, the websites say.
Now most Muslim countries that started out the last century with a sizeable Jewish population have few or none, so, again, I’m not sure what Tunisia is griping about. Perhaps they’d prefer Israel treat Jewish refugees the way the Arab world tends to treat Muslim refugees. This is particularly pronounced with regards to the Palestinians, whom more than 20 Arab countries refuse to absorb, preferring they remain the world’s eternal flotsam so they can continue being used as a political propaganda tool to incite Islamists against Israel and the Jews.
Maybe, Tunisia thinks that Israel’s concern and positive action in defense of Jews everywhere, makes Muslim countries’ image suffer by comparison.
But, in a cynical attempt to project its own behavior on the Jews (for a change), the A.P. reported Tunisian authorities said in a statement that the new Israeli program “amounts to interference in Tunisia’s domestic affairs” and is “an attempt by Israel to tarnish the post-revolutionary image of Tunisia.”
Yes, that’s right, the Jews are tying to make Tunisia look bad.
It’s not like it or the Arab world in general, have any kind of historical issues vis-à-vis the treatment of its Jews, or anything.
“We know that there is real distress among the Jews of Tunisia, many of whom would like to immigrate to Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said. “We will increase the absorption basket in order to allow them to do so. Israel is the state of the Jews. It worries about Jews wherever they are – those who are here and those who would like to come here.”
Another Israeli minister is quoted saying, “The Government of Israel must see to the needs of new immigrants who arrive here hastily from Tunisia, without sufficient advance preparation like other immigrants. This proposal,… is designed to ease, and answer, the difficulties for the families that, given the sensitive situation, decided to come here.”
Ten Tunisian Jews immigrated to Israel in late January amid the violence that led to the overthrow of Tunisian President Zein el-Abbadin Bin Ali.
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