Djerba synagogue murders not antisemitic – Tunisian president

Shooting of Jewish pilgrims at ancient synagogue not related to Jew-hatred, world should focus on the Palestinian national struggle instead, says Tunisia’s president.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Tunisian President Kais Saied claimed that a deadly attack targeting Jewish worshippers at a historic synagogue last week was not antisemitic in nature and suggested that people who believe the murders were motivated by Jew-hatred are part of a “conspiracy” to tarnish Tunisia’s international image.

Last week, two Jewish cousins – one from France and one from Israel – and three Tunisian national security guards were shot to death by an attacker, who opened fire on Jewish pilgrims attending an annual celebration at the ancient Ghriba synagogue in Djerba.

The perpetrator, who government ministers admitted had planned the attack in advance, laid in wait near the synagogue with his weapon for several minutes before shooting. He was shot by security forces less than five minutes after the attack began.

Saied insisted that the attack was in no way antisemitic. In a statement to local media quoted by The Jerusalem Post, he called people who acknowledged the attack was antisemitic as “the forgers of history bent on distorting history, falsifying facts and spreading untruths” and said they were attempting to “ spread conspiracies against the state and endanger social peace.”

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Shortly after charging that antisemitism does not exist in Tunisia – a country which does not acknowledge Israel’s existence – Saied said that a focus on Jew-hatred is a smokescreen for covering up alleged human rights violations against Palestinians.

Western countries expressing concern over antisemitism in Tunisia “do not hesitate to make the false accusations of antisemitism while they turn a deaf ear when it comes to dealing with the plight of the Palestinians who are dying every day,” Saied charged.

“The Palestinian people will succeed against all odds to triumph and recover their despoiled land,” he added.

Saied concluded by explaining that antisemitism does not exist in the modern age.

“It is strange that in the 21st century some people still talk about antisemitism,” he said, saying that people who acknowledge Jew-hatred as a problem are simply wielding the concern as a political weapon.

“They want to preserve the seeds of division and benefit from this discourse,” he added.