The decline and fall of the Jews of Libya

The Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi knows all about Jews. Jews dressed like Arabs and lived in harmony with Arabs, he tells Time magazine. But they are heading to disaster because they dared have their Jewish state, instead of one state shared with the Palestinians. Gaddafi here restates the old dhimmi idea – the Jews are ‘our Jews’ who must defer to Arabs for protection.

So successful was coexistence in Libya that, under Gaddafi’s watch, Libya became judenrein! For the benefit of Time readers and others who are tempted to believe Gaddafi’s lies, Point of No Return charts the decline and fall of Libyan Jewry:

1938 Italian racial laws applied to Libya’s 30,000 Jews. 600 Jews die in Giadowork camp
1945 two-day pogrom: 130 Jews killed
1948: 14 Jews killed in pogrom
1949 – 1952 : 90 percent of Jews flee for Israel
1951 Constitution abolished. PM Mahmud Muntassar says Jews can have no future in Libya.
1952 Independent Libya bans emigration, joins the Arab League
1953 Libya signs up to anti-Jewish economic boycott. Night-time searches of Jewish homes for ‘Zionist’ material
1954 Maccabi sports club closed
1958 Jewish Community Council dissolved by law
1961 Law requires a special permit to prove true Libyan citizenship – denied to all but six Jews
1961 Assets belonging to Libyan Jews in Israel seized. Only Libyan nationals can buy property (excludes Jews). Jews cannot vote.
1963 Nasserists press for closure of US and UK bases
1963 Murder of Jewish leader Halfalla Nahum, 84
1967 Six-Day War. Jews donate to Palestinian cause. 60 percent of Jewish assets destroyed in Tripoli. Italian and Jewish shops burnt. 10 Jews killed.
300 Benghazi Jews detained for own safety. Two families (14 people) massacred. Almost all Libya’s remaining 5,000 Jews evacuated out of the country.
1970 Gaddafi government sequesters all property of Jews abroad
2002 Esmeralda Meghnagi, Libya’s last Jew, dies.

From Le processus de discrimination des juifs de Libye by Maurice Roumani, in La fin du judaisme en terres d’Islam (ed Shmuel Trigano)

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