Anti-Israel protest in Tunisia targets tourism ministry, whose chief is Jewish


(JTA) — Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Tunisia protested against Israel in front of the country’s tourism ministry, which is headed by a Jew.

The protesters decried Israeli settlements and called for a Palestinian state, carrying signs reading “Palestine is Arab, no choice but rifles,” and “Tunisia is free, Zionists out,” The Associated Press reported.

Tunisia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Rene Trabelsi was named Tourism Minister in November by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed as part of a Cabinet reshuffle that saw 10 new ministers join the government. He is the first Jewish government minister to serve in recent decades and only the third Jewish Cabinet member since the predominately Muslim country achieved independence in 1956.

Trabelsi, a tour operator, grew up on the island of Djerba and is co-organizer of the annual visit by Jewish pilgrims to the island for Lag b’Omer. More than 3,000 Jewish pilgrims, many of them Israeli, visited the island for this year’s rite.

He is the son of Tunisian Jewish community leader Perez Trabelsi, who is president of the Ghriba synagogue on Djerba.

Tunisia, in North Africa, is home to about 2,000 Jews in a population of more than 11 million.

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