Tunisians protest travel agency organizing trips to Israel

Tamara Nassar 5 June 2019
Trade unions and political parties in Tunisia are mobilizing against a travel agency that is organizing trips to the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and cities in present-day Israel despite there being no formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The Tunisia Bay Travel agency works in partnership with the Jordanian Atlas Travel and Tourist Agency, as well as a Palestinian travel agency based in Jerusalem to apply for Israeli visas for Tunisian tourists, according to the Tunisian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (TACBI).
TACBI calls the activities of Tunisia Bay Travel “illegal and immoral.”
“Normalization tourism programs include cities such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, Tiberias, among others, which are historically Palestinian cities whose original inhabitants, the Palestinian Arabs, have been subjected to systematic and continuous ethnic cleansing in many cases,” PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, stated.
“Tourism, especially Arab tourism, to those cities and archaeological and holy sites is a tool used by Israeli settler-colonialism to strengthen its economy, propaganda and military, through the normalization of Israel in the Arab region.”
Tunisia’s main labor federation, the UGTT, has called for an investigation into the Tunisia Bay Travel agency.
The UGTT demanded that the agency’s license be revoked for organizing trips to Israel. The labor federation also called on trade unionists to participate in protests in Tunisia against the agency’s activities.
PACBI said it supports the labor federation and the Tunisian anti-normalization effort being led by TACBI and supported by some Tunisian political parties.
PACBI called upon the Tunisian government “to provide an explanation on the truth of this coordination” and called upon Tunisians to adopt the boycott and reject normalization with Israel.
Last year, Tunisian dockworkers forced a cargo ship chartered by the Israeli shipping company Zim to abandon efforts to land at the port of Radès after UGTT called on its member unions and port workers to refuse to handle the ship.