Herzog’s laugh with Tunisian leader sparks Arab outrage on social media

Arab social media users were outraged by Bouden acknowledging Herzog’s presence at all, calling their interaction a “disgrace” and a “betrayal.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A video of Israeli President Isaac Herzog laughing with Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden at the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday went viral, sparking widespread outrage among Arabs on Twitter and other social media platforms.

In a seven-second long clip, Bouden and Herzog are seen nodding at each other and laughing, while standing several feet away from each other.

But despite the brevity of the interaction, Arab social media users were outraged by Bouden acknowledging Herzog’s presence at all, calling their interaction a “disgrace” and a “betrayal.”

Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, “once slammed Trump’s Peace Plan as the ‘Deal of Injustice,’ [and] said ‘anybody who normalizes relations w[ith] Israel is guilty of high treason,’” noted Al Jazeera journalist Saad Abedine.

One Twitter user characterized Bouden’s interaction with Herzog as an “act of high treason” and urged Saied to force her out of office.

Another Tunisian social media activist advised his countrymen to “wake up” and suggested that Saied consider Boudem’s acknowledgment of Herzog as evidence that she does not prioritize “the liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds [Jerusalem.]”

A spokesperson for Herzog issued a statement clarifying that he had only introduced himself to Bouden, and that the two did not speak at length.

“The president turned to the leaders standing next to him and introduced himself, as manners dictate,” the statement read.

“As for the prime minister of Tunisia and prime minister of Lebanon, who were standing nearby, when the leaders introduced themselves to each other, it was understood among them that they could not speak. That was the entire conversation between the three leaders.”

Tunisia did not recognize Israel after the country was established in 1948. The two nations did open temporary diplomatic missions after the signing of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s.

However, following the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Tunisia and Israel suspended ties.