Tunisia Foils Kidnap Plot Aimed at Jews

Four Arrested in Ransom Plot in Southern Town

By Reuters

Published November 01, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Tunisian police have arrested four people for allegedly plotting to kidnap local Jews for ransom, an official said on Thursday, stoking insecurity in the dwindling Jewish community after last year’s “Arab Spring” revolt led to a resurgence of Islamists.

There are less than 2,000 Jews in Tunisia, mostly living in the town of Zarzis and the nearby island of Djerba in the south of the country.

“The security forces intercepted a plan to kidnap young Jews in Zarzis. Police arrested four young men and seized two weapons,” the official, Lofi Hidouri, told Reuters.

Perez Trabelsi, head of the Jewish community in Djerba, said a policeman was among the four arrested.

“There is a big worry in Djerba and Zarzis. The government should provide us with more protection,” Trablesi said.

An “intimidation campaign” was underway to force Jews to leave, he said. “This our country, we will not leave it.”

As in other north African countries, the number of Jews living in Tunisia dwindled from tens of thousands after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 prompted many to migrate to avoid possible Arab reprisals.

Islamists in the ruling Ennahda - which won elections after the overthrow of authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last year - have met local Jewish leaders to reassure them that their rise to power would not hurt the Jewish community.

But with religious tensions growing in Tunisia - including clashes between hardline Salafists and police - the Jewish community remains anxious.

A few weeks after Ben Ali fled Tunisia, a synagogue in the city of Ghabes was set alight.

No one was hurt and the incident appeared to be isolated, but it revived memories of an al Qaeda attack in 2002 that killed 21 tourists after an explosive-laden truck blew up near a synagogue in Djerba.

An annual pilgrimage to Djerba, which attracts thousands of Sepharadic Jews from around the world, was cancelled in 2011 because visitors were reluctant to wade into the charged political environment of the Arab Spring.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.