Libya Remains ‘Judenrein’

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It is just another sign that the Arab Spring is turning into an autumn of Muslim religious persecution. While the world media is currently focused on the latest Christian murders at a demonstration in Cairo, a much smaller, but equally telling, incident of religious intolerance played itself out in Libya today.

David Gerbi, a Libyan Jew who fled his country for Italy in 1967 to escape the recently deposed Muammar Gaddafi’s persecution, was forced to leave Libya again Tuesday after unsuccessfully attempting to reopen the Dar Bishi Synagogue in Tripoli. Dar Bishi, closed 41 years ago, was to be Libya’s first functioning synagogue in decades. In an indication of the devastation visited on Libya’s Jewish community, in 1941 there were 44 synagogues in Tripoli alone and Jews formed 25 percent of the city’s population.

Gerbi’s desire to re-establish the more than 2,000-year-old Jewish presence in his native land ended in failure when several hundred angry protesters showed up last Thursday to oppose his initial efforts to clean out the abandoned building for prayer. Granted official permission, he broke down the synagogue’s bricked-up entrance.

But a peaceful protest wasn’t sufficient for the citizens of the “new” Libya. Holding signs that read, “There is no place for Jews in Libya” and “We don’t have a place for Zionism,” the demonstrators also demanded Gerbi’s expulsion from the country and tried to storm his Tripoli hotel. After speaking with Libyan and Italian authorities, Gerbi agreed to leave the country “to ease the tensions.”

“This incident has served to expose the dangerous reality simmering beneath the surface,” Gerbi noted. “I want to contribute to, not obstruct, the building of a new, democratic and pluralistic Libya. It is sad and absurd that my mere presence in Libya should set off so much hostility and I regret this.”

The fact some of the protesters’ signs were in Hebrew, and a demonstration against the synagogue re-opening also took place in Benghazi indicates the hostility Gerbi “set off” was not necessarily spontaneous or entirely local. 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.

There had been a thriving Jewish presence in Libya for 2,300 years. When Libya became an Italian colony in 1911, Jews lived mostly in Tripoli and Benghazi. Italian occupation was a fairly positive experience for Libya’s Jews until Italy’s fascist regime grew more anti-Semitic in the 1930s. And as the anti-Semitism intensified, “anti-Jewish incidents increased in Libya” and Rome “privileged Libya’s Arabs over its Jews.” Worse, however, was yet to come.

“As the Axis solidified in the late 1930s, Rome imposed anti-Semitic race laws on both Italy and Libya,” writes Michael Rubin in a review of Maurice Roumani’s book, The Jews of Libya. “Libyan Jews were interned in local labor camps, deported, and, in some cases, transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.”

During the war, German troops also plundered the Jewish quarter in Benghazi and deported more than 2,000 Jews, including women and children, across the desert to an Italian work camp in western Libya that Gerbi visited. Gerbi “sat shiva” for the 600 prisoners who died there during a typhoid epidemic and visited the cemetery where they are now buried.

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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!