When Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom publicly urged Tunisia’s remaining Jews to move to Israel last week, he got a chilly reception from both the country’s tiny Jewish community and the Islamist party Ennahda, which won Tunisia’s recent election.
“Tunisia was, is and will be a democratic country that respects its citizens and cares for them regardless of their religion,” Ennahda said in a statement. The head of the Jewish community, Joseph Roger Bismuth, added that “no foreign party has the right to intervene in Tunisia’s affairs, including those of the Jewish community that has lived in this land for 3,000 years. The Jewish community loves Tunisia and isn’t considering leaving.”
Only some 1,800 Jews remain in Tunisia, where Shalom was born. About two-thirds of them live on the island of Djerba, home of the famous El Ghriba synagogue, which has been in continuous use since the first century C.E.
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