Tunisia. There is who ask for normalization of relations with the State of Israel



"The Jewish nature of Tunisia one day will come back, I am sure. Tunisia must return to being a secular republic and where all Arabs, Jews, Christians, and Muslims can live together in peace. More waste the nature, more it will come back galloping. This is a historical fact. The current government of Tunisi has denied being a Mediterranean country, for the presence of Israel, denying the same waters that bathe Tunisia. Please welcome all Tunisians of the world, the Tunisian diaspora who has suffered and is weeping, as we are also weeping in Tunisia. No matter whether in Italy, Israel, France or the United States, or anywhere in the world, tell them not to forget Tunisia. " So ends the interview with Souheil Bayoudh, which speaks Italian very well and opens us virtually the doors of his home Sunday afternoon. Souheil is a former tourism operator who, after the so-called Arab Spring disorder - that more than a spring was a winter - and after the terrorist attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis on March 18, 2015, he lost everything. In addition to the curious campaigns director like that of Muslims who convert to Christianity, he calls himself a thinker, "one of the Tunisian last train," which has nothing to do with the last generation Tunisian increasingly closed and poorly informed. According to his words, Souheil had been invited by a national radio station last Friday, last week. His intervention, according to what he tells us, should have been one hour, but after 10 minutes he felt censored, because the journalist didn't want to hear about the "State of Israel", inviting him to define it as a "Zionist entity." 
What Souheil refers is true: in 2014 some Tunisian political forces wanted to include a norm, an article that denounced the normalization of relations with the state of Israel, which disregarded the Zionist entity for not recognizing it existence. Even with regard to the Constitution adopted on January 26, 2014, the fact that no mention of Mediterranean civilization has been a way of circumventing the problem. To affirm that Tunisia is a Mediterranean country, meant to recognize Israel as part of the same basin, so it was chosen to refer exclusively to the Arab-Muslim world. However, the tense climate does not prevent the development of commercial relations between the two countries, for example, in Israel it is possible to buy pasta, tomato preserves and other goods from Tunisia in supermarkets.

Relations between the two countries

Boyoudh also told us, "How can a Republic maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, while unaware of its citizens? And how can she break it off without saying anything and without an apparent motive?This is not appropriate behavior in a republic. "The diplomatic channels between the two countries were opened in secret in 1994, through the Belgian embassies in Tel Aviv and Tunis. The Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia, and the Israeli foreign minister and then hud Barak had met in Barcelona in 1995, to make official relations and expand them to other countries. On 22 January 1996, the Secretary of State of the United States Warren Christopher announced that for the first time, Israel and Tunisia will establish official structures called 'sections of interests'. Under the plan, Israel opened an interest office in Tunisia in April and six weeks later, in May the Tunisian Khemaies Jhinaoui diplomat went to Tel Aviv to open the office of interests of his country. Relations worsened in the early 2000s after the Second Intifada began, when President Ben Ali announced on October 22, 2000 that he would break all diplomatic relations with Israel following "violence in Palestinian-controlled territories." And since then Tunis and Tel Aviv had no more contact.


The diaspora of Tunisian Jews

According to the Berman Jewish Databank, North American Jewish databank, the Jewish population in Tunisia has almost disappeared. Of the 105,000 Tunisians (and not) of Jewish faith who lived in the country in 1948, there were about 900. Tunisia was the only Arab country that came under direct German occupation during World War II. Between the end of 1942 and May 1943, the Germans, with the collaboration of local authorities, created forced labor camps, confiscation of private property, hostages, mass extortions, deportations and executions. With the creation of special Judenrat committees, they forced Jewish leaders to respect Nazi policies under threat of imprisonment or death. Following Tunisian independence in 1956, the Tunisian Government issued a series of anti-Jewish decrees, which in 1958 led to the abolition of the Jewish Community Council of Tunisia and the destruction of ancient synagogues, cemeteries and neighborhoods Jewish people with the false justification of an 'urban renewal'. Already in those years, more than 40,000 Tunisian Jews left the country to reach Israel. In 1967, the Jewish population in Tunisia had drastically reduced to about 20,000 people. During the Six Days War between Israel and Palestine, Tunisian Jews were attacked by philoplanetan Arab groups that burned synagogues and shops. The government denounced violence and the president, Habib Bourguiba, apologized to the chief rabbi, inviting the Jewish people to remain, but without doing anything that would prevent them from leaving. In the following years, in the climate of danger and instability, 7,000 Jews immigrated to France. In 1982, Jews were attacked in the cities of Zarzis and Ben Guardane. Three years later, a Tunisian guard started shooting a crowd of faithful in a synagogue in Djerba, killing five people, including four Jews.

The terrorist attacks and anti-Semitism

On April 11, 2002, a truck carrying natural gas was exploded in front of the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba. At first, Tunisian officials said it was an accident, but a group linked to al-Qaida network headed by Osama bin Laden had claimed the incident as "the first terrorist attack on most Ancient synagogue in Africa ". The explosion killed 17 people, including 11 German tourists. Following the clashes of the Tunisian spring that gave birth to the new Republic, currently the political climate in Tunisia is hostile to Jewish residents at present, with anti-Semitic attacks and rising vandalism in recent years, in this context the attack in May 2014 The synagogue of Beith El that was violently vandalized, without considering the numerous violations of Jewish cemeteries. An outspoken political episode occurred on March 11, 2014, when a Norwegian cruise ship landing in Tunisian port, the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers on board landing and landing all the others. The Norwegian Cruise Lines' embarrassment has canceled all future stops in the Tunisian harbor by modifying all its routes. For all this, almost all Jewish activities have closed, leaving the country and the last Kosher restaurant in the Tunisian capital ended in November 2015 after receiving terrorist threats. Souheil Bayhoudh, dreams of one day to go to Israel, because he, too, like the Jews who have left the country, does not feel safe, or represented by the institutions of his country, which defines a "phony Republic". He would like all Tunisian Jews to return to Tunisia, if they so wish. Many of them, in fact not having a double passport, with a visa of Israel are not accepted by the authorities, although in fact 100% Tunisian.

Maybe there is still hope?

In July 2016, Tunisia, while inside the Italian Embassy, ​​is the first country to accept the creation of a  Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations  in the Arab world, where olive trees were planted to remind people in First line against Isis and Islamic jihadist fanaticism, and the muslims righteous who helped the Jews during the Holocaust.