Libyan Jews in Israel shed no tears for Gaddafi

Meir Kahlon at the Or Yehuda Libyan Jewish museum

Interesting piece from AFP, but the figures cited must be taken with a pinch of salt: Members of Libya’s Jewish community, who emigrated en masse to Israel, are happy to reminisce and cling to their cultural heritage but they have no nostalgia for fallen leader Moamer Kadhafi.

In Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, a group of around 20 elderly punters, who all emigrated from Libya, are sitting around tables in the local Sports Cafe for their weekly get-together.

“It’s the parliament of the Libya Jews,” chuckles cafe owner Sergio Duyeb.

This community, which now numbers around 180,000 (110,000 -ed) people, immigrated to the Jewish state in three stages: after the 1945 pogrom in Tripoli, in the wake of the unrest which accompanied Israel’s creation in 1948, and following the Arab defeat during the 1967 Six-Day War.

While well integrated into Israeli society, many of them chat in Italian, a throwback to Libya’s colonial past when the North African country was ruled by Italy between 1911 and 1943.

Sitting around the tables, the group suddenly breaks into song, then bursts out laughing as they belt out martial choruses from the Mussolini era.

“We will never forgive the Italian fascists for collaborating with the Third Reich,” says Meir Sayegh, a 69-year-old survivor of the Giado concentration camp, some 150 miles (250 kilometres) south of Tripoli, where more than 500 Libyan Jews died from abuse and a typhoid epidemic in 1942.

“Nor will we forget the massacres of Jews carried out by the Muslims in Libya, let alone Kadhafi’s abuses. He committed the worst of crimes by razing the graveyards where our grandparents were buried in order to build there,” says Nashte Gilboa, the bitterness evident in his voice.

Gilboa, who owns a commercial vineyard in southern Israel, has fond memories of the era of King Idris I in the period after Libya gained its independence in 1951 and before Kadhafi’s coup in 1969.

“Libya was a model of coexistence and tolerance,” he says.

He doesn’t feel “even the slightest bit of nostalgia” watching the momentous events unfold in his former homeland over the past six months.

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  • To the Anonymous commenter who doesn't want Jews back in Libya: shame on you for your bigotry and hatred. This blog will not tolerate abuse and offensive remarks.

  • Gaddafi is a despicable man! Now that he has fallen , some bitter truths come out. Yet that very man was welcomed in Europe like a king. He even had his tent set up in the Elysée garden!
    So it's no wonder that former Lybian Jews shed no tear over him!
    On the contrary, when he is caught, they will let out zaghlootas!
    suzy vidal


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