Latest update: September 2nd, 2012
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom is Urging Tunisian Jews to leave while they can.
Photo Credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90
Back in December, Tunisia-born Vice Prime Minister of Israel Silvan Shalom called on the Jews still living in Tunisia to immigrate to Israel. That call was rejected with much derision by the remnants of Tunisia’s once thriving Jewish community.
But with new legislation being proposed in the Islamist Ennahda led government, Tunisian Jews may need to rethink their loyalty to a country that no longer wants them.
The Tunisian Parliament is working to pass a law that will prohibit the import of religious books, kosher food, and even visitors from Israel.
The Jews of Tunisia are working to reach a compromise with the government to prevent the parliament from passing the law in a few months time.
In an interview with Makor Rishon, Rav Haim Biton, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in Tunisia said, “Today, the government lets us bring in food, medicine, religious and educational books from Israel. If this law passes, our condition will completely change.”
He continued on to say that they are trying to explain to the government that if the law passes, in a few months from now, their relatives from Israel won’t be able to visit, they will not have much needed kosher food items, and, of course, they won’t be able to bring in religious and educational materials.
Other community members were less optimistic as they believe this is the government trying to cut off Jews from their culture. “Behind this law to prohibit the import of kosher products and visiting relatives is their desire to cut off our connection to Israel,” they said.
In November, Tunisia passed a separate law limiting NGOs to importing medicine only from foreign sources in with diplomatic ties with Tunisia, which, obviously, excluded Israel.
Despite the fact that the new proposed law hasn’t yet been passed, Israeli citizens who have requested permission to visit Tunisia recently have been repeatedly turned down, while eight months ago, they could visit.