Questions for Tunisia’s Islamist leader

The leader of Tunisia’s victorious Islamist party Enahda is reportedly doing the rounds in Washington’s think tanks.

It’s perhaps too much to expect that anybody there will seize the opportunity to ask Ghannouchi for clarifications about some of his not so moderate statements, but Martin Kramer has posted a few helpful suggestions, including Ghannouchi’s ostensible appreciation for the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers, his view of Gaza as “the model of freedom today” and his apparent hope for the disappearance of the “germ of Israel” in the not too distant future.

Another question that could be added relates to news reports about a provision in Tunisia’s new constitution that condemns Zionism and rules out friendly ties with Israel. Apparently, Ghannouchi’s party is fully supportive of this kind of constitutional “anti-Zionism.”

Presumably, this clause could mean that any Tunisian who advocates peace with Israel or participates in groups or projects that require any kind of cooperation with Israel is violating Tunisia’s constitution. Needless to say, nobody should even think of condoning Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

The small remnants of Tunisia’s Jewish community may want to carefully consider the implications of their country’s new constitutional “anti-Zionism.” Perhaps Ghannouchi’s recent assurances “that everything would [be] ok” for Tunisia’s remaining Jews are valid only as long as the Jews obey the iron rules that minorities in the Middle East have been forced to observe for centuries.

UPDATE:

Lee Smith on Ghannouchi’s visit in Washington.

From the roundtable with Ghannouchi at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [see the pdf]:

Ghannouchi stressed his commitment to democracy and to “coordination” with NATO. At the same time, he reiterated his belief in the legitimacy of Hamas as well as his refusal to commit to an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution or to renounce the use of violence against Israel.

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