“Are you Zionists?”And it goes downhill from there. Not to be missed.
My colleague Armin Rosen and I were supposed to be conducting the interview. Instead, we were put on the defensive before we could even ask our first question.
“Of course not,” I said.
“Nope,” Armin said. “I don’t have a Zionist bone in my body.”
We were at the headquarters for the UGGT, Tunisia’s biggest labor union, in the small city of Kasserine just down the road from Sidi Bouzid where the revolution—and the region-wide Arab Spring generally—began at the tail end of 2010 when fruit vendor Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest crooked and onerous government regulation.
Four men sat in the union office with us. Armin and I wanted to hear about what happened in the early days of the revolt against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s autocratic regime, but they were in no mood to share such information with Zionists.
Our translator Ahmed Medien, a young and—shall we say—more cosmopolitan journalist based in the capital, Tunis, sat with us.
“What if we were Zionists?” I said, directing my question to Ahmed as much as to our interlocutors.
“They wouldn’t talk to you,” he said. ...
Totten: Where the Arab Spring Began
Michael Totten has a sobering post on his recent visit to Kasserine, Tunisia: