Tunisia’s new president regards any ties with Israel as “high treason”

Tunisia’s new president is a hardline opponent of any form of ties with Israel and recently called moves toward relations with the Jewish state “high treason.”

Kais Saied was the clear winner in the second and final round of the North African country’s presidential elections, beating rival Nabil Karoui with 77 percent of the votes.

Two days earlier, in the final televised presidential debate, Saied became animated when moderators asked about his stance on normalisation of relations with Israel, a sensitive issue in the Arab and Muslim world.

“‘Normalisation’ is the wrong word to use,” he retorted. “We should be talking about high treason.”

That is a common Arab nationalist position that ended up earning him praise among supporters and voters.

Tunis currently has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Its parliament was due to vote last year on a draft law criminalising ties with Jerusalem, but the proposal did not get the endorsement of then-president Caid Essebsi, who died in July.

During the debate, Saied also said Tunisia was in a state of war with the Jewish state.
Saied seemed to express tolerance of Jews, saying that Jewish people with no Israeli passport were welcome to visit the country’s synagogues. But he rejected “dealings with Zionists,” whom he accused of displacing Palestinians.

Hundreds of Israelis, many of them of Tunisian origin, traditionally visit the country’s Ghriba Synagogue for an annual pilgrimage during the Lag Ba’Omer holiday.

The anti-establishment Saied is seen as uptight and unwavering, but beneath his austere style is a commitment to socially conservative views and to decentralising Tunisia’s political system.

He has defended the death penalty, criminalisation of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

related

Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

Statements

EJC President Kantor praises the Pope for impromptu visit to Holocaust survivor

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor praised Pope Francis who visited a Holocaust survivor in her Rome apartment to pay tribute to all those who suffered from what he called “the craziness of Nazi populism.”

At IHRD event, Dr. Moshe Kantor calls on EU member states to ensure that Holocaust survivors receive COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible

During a joint International Holocaust Remembrance Day event, co-hosted with the European Commission, EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor called on the member states of the European Union to ensure that Holocaust survivors have access to a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

EJC to host joint International Holocaust Remembrance Day event with the European Commission

The European Jewish Congress, will host an online event marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 25 January 2021 at 16:00 CET in cooperation with the European Commission.

The event will feature EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor, Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental.

EJC welcomes practical handbook on the IHRA definition of antisemitism

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor welcomed the publication of a handbook for the practical use of the working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as a key tool in the fight against anti-Jewish hatred in Europe.