A number of news sources are reporting that the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from a cruise ship at a stop at the Port of Tunis.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), a U.S.-based cruise line, told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.
The ship involved is the Norwegian Jade.
B’nai Brith Canada released a statement yesterday stating that there were approximately 20 Israelis on board the NCL ship. They did not know in advance that they could not leave the ship during the port of call.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), “the cruise line had a responsibility to its passengers and (to) advise them of this discriminatory policy in advance,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant said in a statement. “Better still the cruise line should avoid ports that have such policies.”
The cruise blog Cruise Hive publishes a statement by NCL about the incident:
"During Norwegian Jade’s port call in La Goulette, Tunisia on Sunday, March 9, 2014, a small number of guests holding Israeli passports were not allowed to go ashore because of a last minute decision made by the Tunisian Government. Port taxes for the call in Tunisia are being refunded to these guests.
We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests and appreciate their understanding. We are reviewing this decision with the appropriate officials."
NCL's statement is pathetic. NCL should not be down-playing the incident like this. The Tunisian government's action should be immediately and unequivocally denounced in the strongest language possible.
This is not about returning nominal port taxes to inconvenienced guests. It is about much deeper and important issues. No citizens of any nation should be subjected to such discrimination. The fact that an Arab nation would exhibit such contempt and hostility against Israel is particularly despicable.
What lessons were learned from the hijacking of the Achilles Lauro cruise ship and the murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer? Have we forgotten his death and the terror inflicted by an Arab terrorist group against cruise ship passengers in the Mediterranean and ending in the murder of a Jewish passenger?
Tunisia's actions sent a clear message to Israeli citizens. NCL's response should be equally clear. The only reasonable action is for NCL and the cruise industry to boycott Tunis as a port.
March 11, 2014 Update: NCL is boycotting Tunisia. Here's the NCL statement by CEO Sheehan:
“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”
NCL announced the boycott during the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM2014) today. I walked by the Tunisia delegation (photo left). They must be feeling rather foolish.
Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Ivan T.; bottom - Jim Walker