Gaddafi allows two Italian Jews to visit Libya

Colonel Gaddafi is feeling generous nowadays: he is letting two more Jewsvisit the land of their birth after 33 years. But restitution is another matter: so far Jews expelled from Libya have received niente for their lost and seized property. At least the Jewish Chronicle mentions the latter, while this agency report picked up by Haaretz coyly declares that the Jews ‘left’ or ’emigrated’, without reference to reparations due to them. (With thanks: Lily)

Two Italian Jews are to return to their homes in Libya for the first time in more than 30 years.

The women, both of whom were born in Libya, emigrated with their families to Italy in 1967 as Jewish–Arab relations deteriorated in the wake of the Six Day War.

Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, known for his attacks on Israel, has reportedly agreed to let some Jewish people visit the country. In August the first Jew from Libya officially returned home. Raphael Luzon and his 87-year-old mother travelled to their former home of Benghazi as government guests.

Libya’s centuries-old (millenarian – ed) Jewish community once numbered 20,000 (38,000 – ed), but the population declined after Israel gained independence and it is believed the last Jewish person left (this world – ed) in 2003.

When Colonel Gaddafi seized power in 1969, debts to Jews were cancelled and Jewish property was confiscated.

Between the 1940s and 1970s an estimated 800,000 Jews fled their homes in Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa because of persecution.

In August an Israeli-Tunisian photographer imprisoned in Libya for five months was released and flown to safety.

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We survived but we were penniless

A refugee goes home: Raphael Luzon in Libya (Jewish Chronicle)

Pictures taken by Raphael Luzon (with thanks: Sylvia)

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