Don’t give a free pass to Arab antisemitism

Gaddafi the Jew…and Nazi. Libyan antisemitism is so deeply ingrained he could be both (Andrew Engel)

People who blame others for their own shortcomings cannot build a democratic or developed society, concludes Evelyn Gordon on the Commentary blog Contentions after reading Andrew Engel’s report for The Forward on Libyan antisemitism:

(..) the West’s ability to ignore the Arab world’s pervasive anti-Semitism means it consistently fails to understand the most basic problem facing Arab countries. As Engel perceptively noted, by deeming Qaddafi a Jew, his Libyan interlocutors “had accomplished an amazing feat of disassociation between themselves and the man who ruled them for most of their lives, as if they were saying: ‘You know, Qaddafi was not one of us. A Libyan could not have done what he did.’ It was a refusal to come to terms with Libya’s own past. Even a dictator, after all, requires popular support from some segments of society to rule for more than four decades … A country unable to come to terms with its history may find itself incapable of building the successful, inclusive democracy it has promised the world.”

Indeed, people who consistently blame an outside agency for their problems – whether it’s Jews, Western colonialism or anything else –are incapable of building any kind of decent society. You can’t fix a problem if you consider it beyond your control, and if it’s someone else’s fault, it is beyond your control. Only when people acknowledge that they have contributed to their own problems can they begin to seek solutions.

That’s why Arab anti-Semitism matters so desperately –not because of the threat it poses to Israel, though that is real, but because of the threat it poses to Arab countries’ own development. The same goes for the Arabs’ tendency to blame their troubles on Israel or the West. Evasion of responsibility for its own welfare has always been, and continues to be, the Arab world’s biggest problem.

And by pandering to it – for instance, by asserting that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is necessary for Arab development even though it patently hasn’t been necessary for Israel’s development – the West is entrenching this problem rather than helping the Arab world to confront it.

Read post in full

Gaddafi’s Jew-hatred is turned against him


  • Maurice Roumani also wrote on Libyan Jews. He was at a university in Israel and now he told me that he teaches a course in Rome on Libyan Jews.

  • Renzo deFelice, a famous Italian historian, wrote a book on Judeophobia in Libya during Italian rule [as I recall. The book was translated into English].

    But Point of no Return carried a post a few weeks ago, I think, about how the British allowed a pogrom to proceed in Libya in 1945 when the country was under British rule.

  • Antisemitism in Libia dates back ages before 1967 yet is true that sytematic attacks against Jews are reported over Italian fascist occupation.
    Fascism gave a strong contribution to antisemitism. I happened to read that first radio in Arab language was set up in Bari to spread fascist ideology over Nort Africa.
    Most cruel progroms were held in 1941 and in 1942 , if my memory is still good.Hundereds of Jews died in the desert since they could not be deported in Germany.
    Gheddafi expelled almost all of jews in 1969 together with Italians.
    Most of them were carried by Italian navy in Rome where major part of them stil live.
    The above is based on what I was told or I can remember but I would be grateful to find something detailed on lybians Jews


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