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September 08, 1961 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-09-08

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Plight of Tunisian Jewry Among Moslems

JTA•Correspondent in Paris

(Copyright, 1961,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)

made "non-essential" products;
middlemen tend to disappear,
and many Jews in the clerical
professions have lost their jobs
in the government's campaign
to cut waste and increase effi-
ciency. Following the national-
ization and- the reunification of
the country's five largest banks,
many Jewish bank officials have
been discharged. Again som
say that the proportion of fired
Jews is higher than that of
their Moslem co-workers.
Although no open anti-Jewish
incidents have occurred, this
economic situation, combined
with the country's political re-
alignment with the Arab world,
resumption of diplomatic rela-
tions with the UAR, member-
ship ,in the Arab League, and
lukewarm attitude toward the
Western world, has driven a
few hundred Jews to emigra-
tion, and has worried countless

The Neo Destours "Young
Turks" have stepped up in
recent weeks their pressure
for Tunisian realignent with
"sister Arab nations" and
some Jews fear that Bour-
guiba may be obliged to pay
the price of his liberal Jewish
policy for the sake of uncon-
ditional Arab support in his
fight with France.
The Jews, mainly members of
the commercial and middle
classes, have suffered much
more than the rest of the pop-
ulation from the stringent eco-
nomic measures adopted by the
government. Imp or t licenses
must be obtained and are rarely
granted (some Jews say that
they are discriminated against
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Mrs. Golda Meir Listed Hartford F

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Gives $50,000 for

possession more
Diaspora Je
st as the Jews
of the
..spora have nothing
mor- 'recious than the State of
T." This was said by I ael's
reign Minister, Mrs.
eir, during a cere
hich she was prese
e certificate of her
the Golden Book
ional Fund by



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JEWISH NEWS — Friday, September 8, 1961

PARIS — The shots which
rang out across the calm waters
of Bizerte . Bay last m o n t h
e of an era. With-
marked the end
in a few days of the start of
the battle, Tunisia — the only
country in North Africa which
had not been the scene of
fighting in recent years — as-
sumed a war-scarred face. On
"Black Saturday," July 22, over
1,000 dead and wounded lit-
tered the streets of the once
lines of refugees streamed out
of the stricken city.
Among the 10,000 Europeans
who disembarked in Metropoli-
tan France, within the fortnight
following the start of the hos-
tilities, were several hundred
French and Tunsian Jews. The
first had left as Frenchmen,
but why the others? Although
the number of departing Tu-
nisian Jews was practically in-
significant, compared to the
55,000 strong community left
behind, all t h o s e acquainted
with Bourguiba's liberal policy
could not help but ask them-
selves "Why?" What was the
connection between the tragic
incidents which involved two
formerly allied and friendly na-
tions, and the well-being and
security of the country's Jews?
I asked . Mr. Nahor this
question. He arrived aboard
one of the first refugee planes
to reach Paris. A small, anxi-
ous man, he waited with a
lost look in the airport's huge
hall. -His wife carried in her
arms the youngest child, a
baby; he himself was over-
loaded with winter coats,
bags and parcels. The two
older children, a 10-year-old
girl and an eight-year-old boy,
were doing their share of
carrying the family posses-
Mr. Nahor had been a middle-
man in The cosmetics trade in
his hometown, Tunis. He had no
capital abroad, and little chance
to resume his former occupa-
tion. Why had he left? He re-
plied: "I could not stay a day
longer. I have my children to
think of. The government
stopped granting imp or t li-
censes for cosmetics. Financi-
ally we were hard hit, and now
we were asked to contribute to
the 'Bizerte Fund.' A Jew who
was unable to pay his officially
imposed contribution was taken
to the Neo Destour headquart-
ers and severely questioned."
A short pause. "We are sur-
rounded by Arabs. • I think
many of them hate us. I have
nothing definite abroad, but I
could not stay another day in
Mr. Nahor was the only one
among' the 10 Jewish families
aboard the plane not to be
met by relatives or friends. He
was ,untypical of the rest of the
It appears from the refu-
gees' stories and the reports
received by Jewish organiza-
tions that no incident of anti-
Jewish character has occurred
since the beginning of the
crisis. Some Jews felt, how-
e v e r , that the authorities
have asked Jews to contribute
more than their share to the
fund in aid of the Bizerte
Several hundred Jews left.
The reason for this must, how-
ever, be looked for in depth.
It is linked to the comunity's
relations with independent
Tunisia and the government's
new political orientation.
Tunisia is a Moslem Arab
country — the constitution's
Paragraph six clearly asserts the
will of the Tunisian people "to
remain faithful to the teachings
of Islam, to the unity of the
Grand Maghreb, to its belong-
ing to the Arab family." Many
Jews fell that their security is
'assured for only as long as

President Bourguiba will rule
the country. Since the Bizerte
crisis some Jews have started
doubting whether even the "Su-
preme Fighter's" (as the Pres-
dent is known) rule will be
sufficient to ensure their safety
and well being.

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