Israel, Tunisia spar over Jewish immigration

Israel does not represent world Jewry and not all Jews have an overriding allegiance to Israel – AFP: Israeli and Tunisian diplomats were locked in a war of words on Tuesday over Jewish immigration after Israel said it was upping funding to help Jews move from the North African country to Israel.

On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet signed off on a package of funding to help Tunisian Jews move to Israel, citing “the worsening of the Tunisian authorities’ and society’s attitude toward the Jewish community, as well as the difficult economic situation that has been created in the country since the revolution.”

That drew a furious response from the Tunisian foreign ministry, which condemned Israel’s “interference” in the country’s internal affairs by offering financial incentives to encourage Jews to emigrate.

It also prompted the leader of the Jewish community in Tunisia to criticise the Israeli government for its offer and say that “no Jew is going to leave the country.”

The ministry expressed “great regret” over what it described as “a malicious call to Tunisian citizens to immigrate to Israel in an attempt to damage the image of Tunisia after the revolution and to create suspicion about its security, its economy and its stability.

“Tunisia is outraged by the statements… (from) a country which still denies the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, shamefully defying international law,” it said.

The strongly worded statement sparked surprise in Israel.

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