Tunisia Insists It's Open to Israeli Tourists

Invites Jews After Cruise Debacle — Cites Visa Need

By JTA

Published March 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israeli tourists may enter Tunisia with pre-arranged papers and Jews especially should feel comfortable attending a major Jewish festival in May, the Tunisian tourism minister said.

Amel Karboul contacted JTA in the wake of the denial of entry earlier this week to Israeli tourists aboard a Norwegian cruise liner.

“We are open to all visitors,” Karboul said Thursday in a phone interview from Paris, where she had met with Jewish groups, including representatives of the American Jewish Committee. “I want to use this occasion to invite the Jewish community to come and celebrate this pilgrimage with us.”

Norwegian Cruise Lines said the policy requiring pre-arranged visas was a new one and said that the denial of entry to 20 Israeli passengers aboard its Jade ship was discriminatory.

It canceled stops in Tunisia until the country resolved the matter.

Karboul said the policy was always in place, and that she was attempting to reach out to officials of Norwegian Cruise Lines to explain what happened.

She said visitors from countries such as Israel that do not have a visa waiver agreement with Tunisia must arrange visas beforehand; she named Egypt and Brazil as countries where citizens must arrange visas prior to arrival.

In the case of Israel, which has not had diplomatic relations with Tunisia since 2000, Karboul said would-be visitors are faxed the requisite papers from Tunisian legations outside Israel. Tunisia is seen as perhaps the sole success of the 2011 “Arab Spring,” which saw the ouster of longtime dictators in a number of Arab countries; its government is democratically elected and features peaceful collaboration between liberals and Islamists.

“We receive 7 million tourists from all over the world” each year “and they are all welcome regardless of nationality, religion,” she told JTA.

Each year hundreds of Jews of Tunisian descent, including from the Israeli community, attend Lag b’Omer festivities on the island of Djerba.

This year, the festival, marking a break during the 49 days of mourning between Passover and Shavuot, falls on May 18.

The Jewish presence on the island is believed to date back to the first exile, in the 6th century BCE.


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!
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • 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:
  • 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.