Ahmed Shebani, a Libyan politician, has condemned the desecration of British and Commonwealth war graves in Benghazi by men shouting ‘Allah hu Akbar’, blaming the influence of Wahabism (ie the Islamic fundamentalism being spread throughout the Muslim world by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states). It’s not enough, writes Gina Waldman in a letter reproduced in The Propagandist: Libyans need to take responsibility for their own actions before they can move on to reconciliation.
“Dear Mr. Shebani:
“Although I applaud you for being the founder of the Democratic Party in Libya, as a Libyan Jew I add my voice to calls that you take responsibility for the actions of your people. The Libyan people need to confront the blatant violations of human rights which they have perpetrated against their own Jewish population. They have humiliated us, confiscated our properties and all of our assets, burned many of our properties – including my father’s warehouse. Finally in 1967, they expelled us from our country after living there for 2,000 years. Yes, the Jews of Libya had a presence there for over two millenia, well before the Arab conquest of the 7th century. Haram Alem – shame on them!
“True democratic values teach us that first, we need to recognize the wrongs we have done and seek reconciliation with our victims. The Libyan people need to follow the example of South Africa by creating a peace and reconciliation committee and come clean with what they have done by creating a “Jew free” Libya. They also need to do this to deal with the terrible crimes that Gheddafi has committed. It is heartbreaking to watch videos of Libyan youth desecrating the graves of WWII British soldiers, Jews, Christians. Haram Alem! Shame on them!
“It is time that the Libyan people take a deep look at themselves and stop blaming outside forces for their barbaric and inhuman behavior It is time that they recognize that they and they alone can change their own behavior and stop blaming the Saudis or any other forces. I agree that the house of Saud is not a democracy and may never be one, but let’s not fool ourselves, the Libyan people alone need to take responsibility for their unspeakable behavior, not only against their non Muslim minorities, but against their own Libyan brothers and sisters. Nobody is forcing them to torture the people they are keeping in custody without a trial.
“When you truly have a democratic Libya, let me know, I will be the first one to testify at “commission of inquiry” for a peace and reconciliation towards a true reconciliation which you can only have in a democratic society. Until then, I can only pray that the leaders of Libya will gain the wisdom to recognize that democracy and freedom cannot be easily achieved. Implementing values that are to foreign to the Libyan people who have been indoctrinated in anti-Western hate culture for too long, will take a great deal of self-reflection and hard work.