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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Pilgrimage to Djerba starts despite warning

From Magharebia:
Thousands of Jews from around the world will soon make their first pilgrimage to Tunisia's Ghriba synagogue since the country's Arab Spring revolution.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been invited to the May 9th event as a guest of honour.

"Tunisia, a country of tolerance and openness, welcomes the visit of Jewish pilgrims to the Ghriba site in Djerba, as they were accustomed to for decades," Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said at an April 16th World Tourism Organisation conference.

Last year, for the first time in two decades, the annual pilgrimage to Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island was cancelled over security concerns. The synagogue, the oldest in Africa, was also the site of a 2002 al-Qaeda terrorist attack that left 21 people dead.

Organisers of the Djerba pilgrimage decided to resume the event after the Tunisian government pledged to provide security for the visitors.

"The government will ensure through its democratic security apparatus to limit some phenomena and curtail some behaviours so as to provide favourable conditions for tourists to visit Tunisia," Jebali added.
But Israel warned against visiting there:
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a travel warning Thursday advising Israelis to avoid Tunisia.

The warning, released the PMO’s Counter Terrorism Bureau, followed an updated situation evaluation and stressed credible threats of terror attacks against Jews and Israelis.

The bureau emphasized threats to people congregating in the city of Djerba on and around the upcoming Lag B’omer holiday on Thursday and Friday next week.

Djerba, noted for it’s 2.500 year-old Jewish community, was the site of a synagogue bombing in April 2002 that killed 21 and wounded 30 more.

The advisory was given a threat assessment level of three out of four, with a “specific-high” rating.
The advisory seems well-advised. Islamists in Tunisia are warning against the "Judaization" of the island. Some are claiming that Jews buying land on the island with the intent of purchasing the entire island, something denied by the government; others called for a demonstration against the pilgrims in front of the historic synagogue. While the government is admirably saying it will provide security, there seem to be a whole lot of people who are against a Jewish pilgrimage to Djerba.