Tunisian envoy to address Shoah event

Country's PA rep to speak at J'lem conference dealing with fate of North African Jews during WWII.

In a first, the Tunisian representative to the Palestinian Authority will speak at an international Holocaust conference this month in Jerusalem, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum announced Wednesday. The three-day event, which will begin on April 28 at Jerusalem's Yad Ben Zvi Institute, will deal with the fate of the Jews of North Africa during World War II. The Tunisian representative to the PA, Ahmed el-Abassi, will deliver remarks at the opening of the conference. Israel and Tunisia do not have diplomatic relations. "For the first time, an official Arab-Muslim representative is being recruited to spread awareness of the issue in the Arab world of the Middle East," Yad Vashem spokesman Iris Rosenberg said. "His presence expresses solidarity with the subject and recognition of the trouble and hardships of the Tunisian Jewish community under the German occupation." In all, 21 researchers from Israel, Europe and the United States will participate in the conference, which is being held in conjunction with the Holocaust museum. Yad Vashem has hosted a group of Jordanian educators in the past. Earlier this year, Jordanian Prince Hassan spoke in a recorded video address shown at Yad Vashem to mark the inauguration of the Holocaust memorial's Arabic-language Web site. Tunisia was the only North African country to come under direct German rule. Nearby Morocco and Algeria were governed by the pro-German collaborators of Vichy France. In November 1942, German and Italian troops invaded Tunisia following the invasion of Algeria and Morocco by the Allies. The Jews were saved from annihilation when the Allies entered the capital, Tunis, on May 7, 1943 and quickly vanquished the Germans. Last year, a Tunisian became the first Arab nominated for recognition by Yad Vashem as a "righteous gentile."