Marzouki Calls for Tunisian Jews to Return
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki conveyed that Tunisia’s Jews are full citizens and those that had left were welcome to return during a meeting with the country’s Grand Rabbi Haim Bittan. According to the Washington Post, Tunisia presently has a Jewish population of 1,500, but had 100,000 in the 1960s. Currently, most Tunisian Jews live on the island of Djerba, near the country’s border with Libya. Marzouki’s remarks came in response to a call by Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom for Tunisian Jews to move to Israel.
Additionally, Tunisia commemorated the first anniversary of what many consider the start of its revolution by honoring the death of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid. President Marzouki said ”Bouazizi restored the dignity to the Tunisian people.” Mark Levine suggests “it was precisely the relative marginalization of Sidi Bouzid … which made [Bouaziz's] self-immolation so meaningful for people across Tunisia, and soon after the Arab world. The lack of hope or possibility to find decent work, or overcome the corruption and repression there that defined life in the town, was a microcosm of political and economic life in Tunisia under Zine Abidine Ben Ali. Sonia Verma asserts that “without social media, Mohamed Bouazizi’s suicide would have likely been a lone rebellion.” Carne Ross writes ”the many steps towards a just and sustainable economy, and a truly inclusive democracy will be taken not by those we vote for,” but begins with the actions of individuals like Mohamed Bouazizi.