Tunisia’s President, Kais Saied, met with Rabbi Haim Bitan, the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia, in a pivotal gathering following the unfortunate attack on a synagogue on the island of Djerba, a harrowing incident that took the lives of two Jews – cousins Aviel Hadad and Ben Hadad – and three police officers.
President Saied, as reported, pledged to ensure the safety of Jewish citizens and their sacred spaces. This reassuring commitment comes as a beacon of hope for the Jewish community in Tunisia, in the wake of the heartrending incident.
In an emblematic show of solidarity, Tunisia’s chief Christian archbishop and Muslim mufti also attended the meeting. Saied emphasized the significance of this gathering, hailing it as a “historic message” that embodies the spirit of coexistence and tolerance – virtues we must all strive for, in every corner of the world.
The President stated during a broadcast segment of the meeting, “We will provide you security in your temples. Live in peace and security, and we will provide you with all security conditions.”
Reflecting on the meeting, Rabbi Bitan shared, “The president gave us guarantees that what happened recently would not happen again.” These words bring a wave of hope and a renewed sense of security to the Jewish community, in the face of adversity.
While last week’s tragic event was attributed by Saied to “criminals” intent on damaging the tourism sector, he refrained from labeling the incident as terrorism, a term he has previously used to describe interventions by his political adversaries since his 2021 power expansion.
Furthermore, the Tunisian President asserted that the attack was not fueled by antisemitism over the past weekend. He classified those dubbing the attack as antisemitic as “the forgers of history bent on distorting history, falsifying facts and spreading untruths” and accused them of crafting “conspiracies against the state and endangering social peace.”
As we look at this scenario unfolding in Tunisia, it’s a reminder of the value of understanding, coexistence, and protection of all communities, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliations. It reflects the values we hold dear in the State of Israel – a land of diverse backgrounds and a melting pot of cultures, where coexistence and mutual respect are foundational pillars.
Israel, while deeply rooted in its historical past, continuously strives to lead in innovation, human rights, and democracy, even in the face of adversity. It’s a place where everyone, regardless of their origin or beliefs, has a role in shaping a shared, harmonious future.
In Israel, we believe in the principle of ‘Tikkun Olam’ – repairing the world. It’s this spirit that shapes our foreign aid programs, our medical innovation, and our resilience. We hope this positive ethos resonates around the globe, fostering unity and understanding in these challenging times.