Libya Remains ‘Judenrein’


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After the war, the plight of Libya’s Jews only got worse. One pogrom alone in 1945 cost 100 Jews their lives in Tripoli and other towns. Five synagogues were also destroyed. And as Israel’s independence neared in 1948, members of Libya’s 36,000-strong Jewish community began to leave the land where they had lived for more than two millennia. Between 1948 and 1951, 30,792 of their number emigrated to Israel. The son of one these immigrants, Moshe Kahlon, later rose to become Israel’s Minister of Communication.

The remaining 6,000-7,000 Libyan Jews were forced out of the country after the 1967 Six Day War, Gerbi being one of them. The war saw more anti-Jewish pogroms, in which 18 Jews were murdered. The Italian Navy evacuated all but 100 Libyan Jews, of whom 4,000 went to Israel or the United States. Two thousand stayed in Italy.

But even being reduced to such a tiny, insignificant and powerless number provided no protection for the remaining 100, when Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969. The Libyan dictator had their property confiscated, causing more Libyan Jews to leave until their number had dwindled to a mere 20. The last Libyan Jew, an 80-year old woman, left the country in 2003, making Libya a “Judenrein” state that would have made Hitler proud.

It was this rich, centuries-old heritage, decimated in such a short time span, that Gerbi wanted to revive with his mission to Libya. A psychoanalyst and member of the World Organization of Libyan Jews, he had visited Libya several times in the past decade before he returned last spring to help the rebels against Gaddafi. He worked at a hospital in Benghazi before travelling to the former internment camp in western Libya where he met anti-Gaddafi Berber rebels. The Berbers, whose members sit on the NTC, were also oppressed under Gaddafi’s dictatorship and want to see a Jewish presence in Libya again.

“Our two people have much in common,” said one Berber representative. “We want to create closer relations between Muslims and Jews. Without Jews, we will never have a strong country.”

But Gerbi’s hope that exiled Libyan Jews could regain their citizenship and return home “for travel, work or residence” appears an unrealizable dream – at least for the foreseeable future. He blames the decades-long, anti-Jewish brainwashing Libyans have received for his mission’s failure.

“However, what happened reveals the extent of Gaddafi’s anti-Semitic conditioning of an entire generation, those in their forties and fifties,” Gerbi said. “Forty-two years of lies, of hate propaganda falsely accusing Jews of having been paid to abandon the country in 1967, of having robbed Palestinians of their homes and of planning to colonize Libya.”

But it is more than that. The Arab Muslim world has become much more religiously radical since 1967. The demonstrators who stopped his synagogue re-opening project proved that. So it is highly doubtful that a “new democratic and pluralistic Libya” that would espouse religious tolerance can even be built. Instead, the Arab world appears to be going in the opposite direction.

The cruel fate that befell Libyan and other Jewish communities in Arab countries is continuing with the murder of Christians in Iraq and Egypt. The danger of Darfur-like massacres of Christians is so acute, the West should currently be preparing to receive five to eight million Egyptian Coptic Christian refugees, like it received Libya’s Jews. The Arab Spring is proving itself to be very hostile to other religions, especially to those regarded as outposts for Israel and the United States. So it is just not the remnant thinking of a dictatorship that is blocking Gerbi’s synagogue project, but rather that of the more powerful and deadly Wahhabi-interpreted Koran.

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  • UCSPanther

    I think the best thing to do is let Libya wallow in their "Judenrein Utopia" (Read: Hell) and not put any work into rebuilding that synagogue, for it would be a waste of time and effort as they would destroy it anyways.

    • Anamah

      Who could me explain what is Marco Rubio thinking…He traveled to Libya with John McCain , Lindsey Graham , and Mark Kirk (IL). While there, the delegation met with key officials, including members of the NTC, and the opposition movement whose fighters overthrew Qaddafi last month. During the trip, Marco re-affirmed his support of U.S. involvement in Libya saying:

      “Ultimately, Libya’s future belongs to the Libyan people. The rest of us watch back inspired by your example and encouraged by your future in the hopes that not just here, but throughout the world, the flame of liberty that has burned so bright over the last few months will ultimately open the doors and create the opportunity for other people to live free.”What was he thinking? Not one word about their furious antisemitism there…Would somebody tell me???

  • Miriam

    it was fortold… why he even thought it will be different? was stupid even to try…Libya is under Islam…and it will die under Islam soon

  • Phil Gerber

    Mr. Gerbi is just ahead of his time.

  • maturin20

    I can't quite get a read from this article. Is it good or bad that most of the Libyan Jewish community emigrated to Israel? The article seems to present it as a tragedy, yet I had thought that was part of the point of having a homeland.

    • tanstaafl

      It's a tragedy for Libya.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Actually, 800,000 to 900,000 Jews subsequent to the defeat of the 1948 genocidal jihad waged against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel in 1948-49 by the Islamic world, which was, by the way, also an illegal war of aggression as well, were ethnically cleansed with nothing but the shirts on their backs, having their property confiscated from them by the Islamic states that had forced their exodus. Indeed, thousands of Jews also died in the many pogroms that took place throughout the Islamic world against Jews during that time as well.

      Yet, delusional leftists like you are totally obsessed with so-called Palestinians refugees that left only at the behest of their Imams to make way for the Muslim jihad armies that were going to stain the Mediterranean Sea red with the blood of dead Jews in a second glorious genocidal holocaust of Jews.

      • maturin20

        Everything you write sounds like a plotline for a Conan the Barbarian cartoon.

        • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

          He claimed to be from Samaria.

  • maturin20

    Why?

    • SchlomoBagelbaum

      Because we Jews make everything better. We're like Hamburger Helper™.

      • maturin20

        Mostly made of filler and straw?

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    Last of the Mohebrews.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Something you constantly and incessantly wish, hope, and pray for.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        No way. Nobody want's to be around The Last Jew. Think of the complaining.

    • Ghostwriter

      The persecution of Jews anywhere must warm your shriveled angry heart,Flipside.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        This is why I don't like the Writers Guild. Ghostwriting is terrible.

  • LindaRivera

    There is mostly silence about the horrors taking place against Libya's blacks. We need another Martin Luther King!

    STOP the GENOCIDE of Blacks by the U.S. backed Libya rebels!

    The Obama-supported rebels left in charge are now conducting a “large scale cleaning in the areas under their control with the extermination of all blacks in the capital”, according to The Independent.

    Barbaric atrocities, kidnappings and ruthless genocide of blacks in Libya by US/France/NATO backed Al-Qaeda linked rebels has been going on for months.

    US/NATO who have waged war for months for the Al-Qaeda
    linked rebels-who murder our troops in Iraq-are RESPONSIBLE for stopping the genocide.

    US/NATO are also responsible for rescuing the many
    terrified blacks kidnapped by the rebels, including the kidnapped black children who have been horrifically abused by the black-hater Muslim rebels.

    Blacks must have human rights!

    STOP THE GENOCIDE!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Most likely the product of Islamist forces with international connections, the anti-Semitic protesters may also have wanted Gerbi expelled from the country because he is seeking the position as the rebel National Transition Council’s (NTC) representative for Libyan Jewry.

    Of course, because as we all know per the dictum's of multiculturalism, Islam is inherently peaceful and moderate. Thus it must be the product of that tiny minority of Islamist extremist forces with international connections trying to hijack the peaceful religion of Islam. Roll eyes!