Tunisia Riots 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The violent protests that have shaken Tunisia over the past few days calmed down
on Tuesday – although the political situation in the Mediterranean country
remains precarious, a Jewish leader there said.
Roger Bismuth, president
of the Jewish community in Tunisia, told The Jerusalem Post about the volatile
atmosphere in the capital, Tunis, following riots that caused longtime president
Zine el- Abidine Ben Ali to flee.
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“The streets have been quite agitated
today because [protesters] were not happy with the government, but they are not
shooting anymore,” Bismuth said. “There are no dangerous demonstrations – just
people expressing their needs and desires.
“The situation is not easy
because all the parties in the so-called ‘opposition’ are coming back and want
space,” he said. “It’s been a big revolution, and not easy to reclaim
According to Bismuth, the protests have not been directed
against any of Tunisia’s Jews or their institutions.
“This is a Tunisian
revolution, and it has not affected the Jews or foreigners – or anyone,” he
explained. “Protesters passed by the synagogue and nobody did
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee said it was
monitoring the situation closely.
“We’ve explored all the scenarios and
options, and we’re considering the needs of the community,” said Judy Amit, the
JDC’s global director of international development.
“[Jews] have been
living there for 2,000 years, so they are the best to decide what’s best for
Approximately 1,500 Jews live in Tunisia – about 1,000 on the
island of Jerba, and the rest in Tunis.
“[For] a few days local workers
did not come to the Jewish old-age home, but now they’ve returned,” Amit
“Local workers have returned to their jobs. Bakeries and food is
accessible and Jewish schools are waiting for the government to open all
Jewish Agency chairman Nathan Sharansky said his organization
was also following developments in Tunisia closely, and was ready to help should
the need arise.
“The Jewish Agency is using all of its emergency response
assets – and is working with its partners in such operations – to monitor the
situation and provide the needed assistance to the members of the Jewish
community,” Sharansky said in a statement. “As more information becomes
available and can be shared, I will update you to the extent possible without
jeopardizing our efforts.”