Archive for the ‘Tunisia’ Category

‘Non-Aryan’ surprises found in Hitler’s family tree

August 24, 2010 1 comment

LONDON (WJC)–Nazi leader Adolf Hitler possibly had Jewish as well as African ancestors, according to a report by the British newspaper ‘Daily Express’, citing new DNA tests done in Belgium.

Samples taken from Hitler’s relatives link him to both the Jewish community and people from northern Africa. Belgian journalist Jean-Paul Mulders said he had investigated Hitler’s DNA after managing to lay his hands on a serviette dropped by the dictator’s great-nephew Alexander Stuart-Houston in New York. He said he got a second sample from an Austrian cousin of Hitler, a farmer known as Norbert H., the report said.

The DNA tests revealed a form of the Y-chromosome that is rare in Germany and the rest of Western Europe, but common among Jewish and North African groups. Experts now think that Hitler had migrant ancestors who settled in his homeland. Mulders said both the test samples had a form of genetic material known as ‘Haplopgroup E1b1b’, proving an “irrefutable link” to the Nazi leader.

“It is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, in Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mulders was quoted as saying. The link to Hitler’s ‘migrant ancestors’ could go back anything from three to 20 generations, said experts.

Ronny Decorte, a professor of Forensic Genetics and Molecular Archeology from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, told the ‘Daily Express’: “Hitler would not have been pleased about this. Race and blood was central in the world of the Nazis. Hitler’s concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not ‘pure’ or ‘Aryan’.”

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Concert of pro-Israeli Tunisian cancelled after protests

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

TUNIS (WJC)–A musical show scheduled for the Carthage International Festival has been called off after its actors sparked outrage on the internet for performing for Israelis. Selim Baccouche, actor and organizer of the musical ‘Nouraniet’, canceled his show after his co-actor, Tunisian performer Mohsen Cherif voiced support for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video posted on ‘Facebook’. “Long live Netanyahu! Long live Bibi!” Cherif shouted at the concert for Israelis of Tunisian origin, using Netanyahu’s nickname. Festival organizers said the show had been canceled because Baccouche was “indisposed”. A press conference was also called off.  

Baccouche himself became the target of criticism after a video showed him and other Tunisian artists performing for Israelis at a concert during a pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba. Thousands of internet users angrily demanded that the musical be canceled and some called for Cherif to be stripped of his Tunisian citizenship. Unions, including those representing musicians, condemned the “slur on national sentiment”, calling it a “shameful act” for Tunisians, who are generally hostile toward Israel.  Tunisia and Morocco are the only two Arab states with a sizeable Jewish community.

Baccouche defended the video and said he was only responding to demand from a public for whom “all Tunisian artists, without exception” perform each year. “Why this video appeared one week before my show…I do not understand it,” he declared on the website ‘Kapitalis’.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Israeli photographer freed by Libya

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

JERUSALEM (WJC) — Rafael Haddad, an Israeli citizen arrested and imprisoned in Libya in March while photographing Jewish sites, has returned to Israel after being freed in a deal reportedly engineered by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Haddad, who has dual Israeli-Tunisian citizenship, had gone to Libya in March to photograph former Jewish community buildings in Tripoli for a Jewish heritage association. He was arrested and turned over to Libyan intelligence on suspicion of espionage, and until Sunday his whereabouts were unknown. Israeli officials now announced that he had been freed by Libyan authorities and flown to Vienna, following prolonged negotiations.

Reportedly, the case involved international efforts and was linked to Israel’s treatment of a pro-Palestinian ship sponsored by Libya that tried to run the blockade of Gaza last month. “The Foreign Ministry and the foreign minister worked for a long time to have him freed, along with other international bodies, and we thank all involved for their help,” an Israeli spokesman said, but did not provide further details. Libyan authorities have not commented.

Israeli nationals are banned from visiting the north African country. Haddad was traveling on his Tunisian passport when he was arrested.

Israeli officials said the efforts to free Haddad involved Italy, which has close ties to Libya and is home to a Libyan Jewish exile community, as well as France, Tunisia and the United States. Israeli officials quoted by AP said the final deal was arranged by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff.

Haddad was flown to Vienna on Schlaff’s private jet, the officials said, and was greeted at the airport by Lieberman. As part of the deal Israel allowed 20 prefabricated houses from the Libyan-sponsored ship, which tried to reach Gaza in July, to be delivered to the Strip. The Libyan ship was diverted to Egypt.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

A pleasure cruise to Turkey? I think not!

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO–A friend of mine was considering a Mediterranean cruise.  I suggested that he find another itinerary.   One of the ports of call he had been considering was in Turkey.  I can’t imagine a reason after the Gaza Flotilla incident why any member of the Jewish community would want to go to Turkey, anymore than they should want to go to Iran, Syria, Lebanon, or to Gaza.

There are places in the Muslim Middle East I would recommend visiting: Egypt, Jordan, and Oman, all of which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting myself.   Oh, I’ve also been to Turkey, but not again, thank you.  While Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in power, I’ll be waiting for his government to be reset, tied up, er-gone.  If I want Middle Eastern flavor, I’ll go to Israel.  And if I do venture among Israel’s other neighbors, perhaps it will be to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco or Tunisia. I certainly won’t waste time on the country of a false friend, a provocateur, someone who has betrayed Israel in order to curry favor with the most radical regimes in the Middle East. 

Beautiful beaches? Erdogan’s Turkey can keep them.   Antiquities?   There are a lot more in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.  Turkish coffee?  The world has learned to brew it long ago.  Carpets?  We can manage without them.

There was a time when I wanted to travel everywhere on the globe, to meet the people of every land, to taste their foods, partake of their customs.  Not anymore.   If other countries want tourism, let them earn it.  Let them show that they respect the people of the world, no matter where they come from or how they pray.  Let them demonstrate that they are willing to abide by international standards of decency.  

It was an act of indecency last May when Turkey attempted to force Israel to either give up its right to self-defense or be condemned by  Arab-engineered “world opinion” for blocking such manifestations of “humanitarian assistance” as knives, cutlasses, grenades, and automatic weapons.

Five of the six ships in the so-called Gaza Flotilla went peacefully to the Israeli Port of Ashdod and their humanitarian cargoes were transferred without incident to Gaza.  These supplies amounted to drops of water in the river of aid that Israel continually sends to the people of Gaza notwithstanding the fact that their Hamas “leaders” thank the Israelis with Kassam missile strikes on Sderot and the villages of Sha’ar Hanegev.

Only the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara refused to be escorted peacefully to Ashdod.  As the video released by the IDF makes clear, the “humanitarians” on board replied to the Israelis who invited them to deliver the cargo there: “Shut the f**k up.  Go back to Auschwitz!  We’re helping Arabs going against the U.S.  Don’t forget 9/11 guys.” 

Listen, you so-called “humanitarians,” we Jews are not going back to Auschwitz.   And we Americans will definitely remember 9/11, and all the innocent people who died there at the hand of terrorists with whom you apparently have much in common.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Abbas spokesman denies Palestinian leader is suffering from severe heart problems

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–A spokesman for  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has denied media reports that Abbas is suffering from severe heart problems. “Reports about the president being ill are not true. The president is in good health,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah was quoted by the news agency ‘Reuters’ as saying. Unnamed Palestinian officials told ‘Reuters’ that Abbas had been suffering from back pain since falling during a visit to Tunisia last month. But they also denied that the 75-year-old, Western-backed leader was seriously ill.

Abbas became president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the dominant Fatah movement within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) after the death of Yasser Arafat in late 2004. His presidential term should have expired, triggering new elections, but the split between the PLO and the Islamist Hamas movement, which seized the Gaza Strip from Abbas’s forces in 2007, has left the constitutional processes in limbo. The PLO, of which Hamas is not a member, has extended Abbas’s term.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Jewish refugees from Arab countries discussed in Knesset

February 20, 2010 1 comment


(Press Release) WJC–A conference on the rights of Jews who had to flee their Arab home countries after 1948 was held at the Knesset in Jerusalem as Israel’s parliament is set discuss a bill that would make the issue an integral part of future Middle East peace negotiations. Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, US Congressman Eliot Engel, the head of the group Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), Stanley Urman, and leaders of Jewish organizations from Egypt, Syria, Libya, Morocco, and other Arab countries took part in the gathering, which was held in the Knesset building.

Originally submitted almost a year ago to the Knesset, the bill passed its first hearing two weeks ago. Now various interest groups are pushing the bill with the Knesset’s 120 members before it is submitted for a second and third reading next week. The bill was sponsored by Knesset member Nissim Ze’ev of the Orthodox Shas party and follows a resolution passed in the US House of Representatives in 2008, which calls for the recognition of Jewish and Christian refugees in addition to Palestinian refugees.

Irwin Cotler said: “We are not just speaking about financial compensation or indemnification. We are talking about justice for Jews from Arab countries. This speaks to the question of, among other things, rectifying the justice and peace narrative of the last 62 years where the question of Jews from Arab countries has not been part of the narrative. There have been more than 160 UN resolutions on the matter of refugees. All 160 dealt with Palestinian refugees only. I am not saying they shouldn’t address Palestinian refugees, but I am saying there is no justice and no truth if it does not also address the plight of Jews seeking justice from Arab countries.”

According to JJAC, some 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries after the State of Israel was established. These include Jews from Syria, Trans-Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

The speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin of the governing Likud Party, said the issue was an important counterweight to Palestinian demands for a right of return to homes from which they were expelled or had to leave in 1948, and which are now part of Israel.

“The Arab peace initiative, based on the Saudi initiative, has a clause that calls for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue,” Rivlin told participants at the conference. “Israel is opposed to the right of return… we have to make an appeal today, to say that there is no room for bringing up the Palestinian right of return without the Jewish refugee issue being resolved. This has to be heard in the political discourse in Israel and in the international community.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said there was hypocrisy in the way the international community dealt with the Palestinian refugee community: “The Arabs today, as they have done for 50 years, use the Palestinian refugee population as political pawns. They want them to live in misery. They want them to suffer and then to blame the Jews. The fact of the matter is that the blame lies right at the foot of the Arab states, be it Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Egypt or any of those countries that have lots of petro-dollars and they don’t even spend a shekel to help their refugees.”


The preceding provided by World JewishCongress

San Diego Jewish Film Festival preview: ‘Villa Jasmin’

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment

By Laurel Corona

LA JOLLA, California — Each of us has a narrative about our family’s past, whether it’s shared around the table at family celebrations, or kept quietly to ourselves. When Serge Boccara (Clement Sibony) sets out from France  to Tunisia with his pregnant wife Jeanne (Judith Davis) in director Ferid Boughedir’s 2008 film Villa Jasmin, he discovers the power of his own childhood memories and the fragility of the story he has constructed around them.

 The film (based on a novel by Serge Moati) moves between the present and the past as the story evolves, blending the two to interesting effect when Serge occasionally intrudes on scenes that happened before he was born. Sometimes he is a mere observer and sometimes he is a participant in those scenes as it becomes clear that the driving force behind his desire to come to Tunisia is to come to grips with what he considers to be abandonment by both his parents when he was young.  “Your parents didn’t abandon you,” his wife tells him.  “They died.”  Of course that’s different, but even after all these years, it doesn’t feel that way to Serge.  “My mother preferred death to her son,” he thinks at one point, believing–however irrationally–that she let herself give in to cancer after his father’s death.

Serge Junior discovers quite quickly that the past will be difficult to revive when he sees that the villa is now a run-down electric cable company.  The courtyard and grounds are in ruins, and he is too overcome by disappointment to want to step inside. He persists, though, visiting people and places all over the city, and little by little his parents’ story opens up with such vividness that he begins to inhabit their world. 

The locus of the film is the eponymous Villa Jasmin, the seaside mansion of a  Serge Senior (Arnaud Giovaninetti) and Odette Boccara (Elsa Mollien). He is from an “old” established Tunisian Jewish family, and she from a “new,” immigrant one, and though they are very much in love, much is made of the social tensions between the two groups.

The sociology of this place and time is one interesting element of the film, but it is also well worth seeing for the sensual evocations of the sounds, colors, and even smells (jasmine) of a vanished era.  The cast is extraordinarily attractive, though from time to time the performances are too low-key to seem realistic under the circumstances and the villains of the story seem little more than stereotypes. But those interested in knowing more about twentieth century North African Jewish culture and Tunisian history from the first stirring of its independence movement through the end of the Nazi occupation will learn a great deal through this captivating story of ethical tenacity, personal sacrifice, and enduring love.

Villa Jasmin will be presented at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival at 6:20 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, at the AMC La Jolla.

Corona is a San Diego-based freelance writer and award winning author