Boycotting Jewish comedian is anti-Semitism — Tunisian NGO

Racism watchdog slams ‘cowardly’ BDS efforts to disinvite Michel Boujenah from festival in North Africa over his support for Israel

French-Tunisian Jewish actor and comedian Michel Boujenah in a TV appearance from June 17, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)
French-Tunisian Jewish actor and comedian Michel Boujenah in a TV appearance from June 17, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)

A Tunisian watchdog group on racism accused promoters of a boycott against Israel of anti-Semitism after they protested the invitation extended to a Jewish comedian to appear at a local festival.

The accusation Thursday by the Tunisian Association for Support of Minorities was over an open letter sent earlier this week to the Tunisian Ministry of Culture and the organizers of the annual Catharge Festival of music next month to protest the invitation extended by organizers to Michel Boujenah, a well-known Tunisia-born French Jewish standup artist.

The letter, authored by Tunisian activists of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, says that Boujenah, who often speaks lovingly of his native Tunisia during his shows, should not be allowed to perform because he is a Zionist.

Boujenah, who is not a citizen of Israel, has often spoken during interviews about his support for Israel, including during a 2009 talk with Gilles Sitruk, an organizer of interfaith delegations to Israel and writer.

“We Diaspora Jews have no qualms about declaring our admiration for Israel,” Boujenah said in that interview. “A justified admiration as the people to which I belong want peace more than anything.”

He also said: “I feel Jewish, French, Tunisian, Zionist and very close to Israel, as well as a supporter of a Palestinian state. In short, one big balagan,” the Hebrew-language word for “mess.”

Citing this interview and others, the BDS activists wrote in their request to officials and the organizers of the festival to cancel Boujenah’s participation: “No place for the Zionists, whatever their nationality, in our country and festivals.”

Yet Yamina Thabet, the president of the Tunisian Association for Support of Minorities, told the Tribune Juive Jewish newspaper in France that the activists are “cowardly taking anti-Jewish action.”

Calling for a boycott of Boujenah’s show “under the pretext of fighting Zionism is nothing but an anti-Jewish act. We know this is a Tunisian who has always spoken loud and clear about his attachment” to Tunisia, she added in the interview, which was published Thursday.

In 2009, another French-Jewish comedian, Gad Elamaleh, was forced to cancel a tour in Lebanon amid threats over his ethnicity. In 2014, Bernard-Henri Levy, a French Jewish philosopher and supporter of Israel, was greeted at Carthage Airport in Tunis by protesters who shouted “No to Zionist power in Tunisia” and “Get lost.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.