With thanks: Ranbir
I’ve been avoiding this story for some days now – but the time might have now come to comment about news reports that Aisha Gaddafi, the late Libyan dictator’s daughter, is seeking asylum in Israel.
As evidence, the reports cite the fact that Aisha, who fled to Algeria with members of her family, has engaged Israeli lawyer and human rights activist Nick Kaufman to represent her.
Firstly, engaging an Israeli lawyer does not mean anything much. I seem to recall that Aisha’s brother Saif al-Islam once had an Israeli girlfriend. So what?
In the next breath reporters invariably bring up the fact that Colonel Gaddafi is rumoured to have had Jewish origins – that’s why Israel might be Aisha’s natural choice. In support of this theory the Los Angeles Times blog and USA Today both linked to this Point of No Return blogpost in which two women in Israel claim to be related to Gaddafi’s grandmother, who ran off with a Libyan sheikh.
Under Israel’s right of return, having a Jewish grandmother might well have entitled Colonel Gaddafi to citizenship. But if Aisha is claiming the right to move to Israel because her great-grandmother was Jewish – the link is becoming somewhat threadbare.
Of course, there is the possibility that the whole asylum story may have been cooked up by Gaddafi’s enemies. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is no better way to discredit someone than to call them a Jew. For instance, rumours have been circulating in Egypt that Boutros Boutros Ghali, the Coptic ex-UN secretary-general, was all set to follow his Jewish wife to Israel.
If Aisha does indeed move to Israel, no reporter seems to have bothered to ask the Israeli public why they should offer asylum to a hostile dictator’s daughter. When he was alive, Colonel Gaddafi was responsible for the expulsion and wholesale dispossession of the last 6,000 Jews in Libya. Perhaps Israel should grant Aisha asylum after all – on condition she apologises and donates to Libyan Israelis a large chunk of her father’s billions, squirrelled away in Swiss bank vaults.