The Tunisian president has apologised for making antisemitic remarks blaming Jews for the country’s unrest, according to Rabbi Haim Bitan, the chief rabbi of Djerba.

President Kaïs Saïed had accused Jews of being responsible for national instability and appeared to say “the Jews who are stealing” in Tunisian dialect in a Facebook video he posed, although this is being fiercely disputed by aides.

It prompted an angry reaction from the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), expressing “deep concern” about the attributed remarks about Jews stealing.

“We consider that the Tunisian government is the guarantor of the security of Tunisian Jews,” said CER president Pinchas Goldschmidt. “Such allegations threaten the integrity of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.”

The three-minute video shows a masked Saïed meeting the public. His office later denied that he made any reference to religion, adding that the president “differentiates between Judaism and Zionism”.

Saïed has raised eyebrows before. In 2019 he said Tunisia’s ties with Israel were “high treason” because the country was “at war” with Israel, adding that Jews without “dealings with Zionists” or Israeli passports may visit synagogues in Tunisia.

Source: Jewish News