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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Jews to return to Libya?

Are Jews going to return to Libya? That's what at least one Libyan Jew would like to see happen. Italian resident David Gerbi fled Libya with his family in 1967. Now, he'd like to go back.
Libyan Jewish exile David Gerbi said he has dreamed of restoring this synagogue for 10 years, when smoke from New York's burning World Trade Center twin towers evoked one of the most powerful memories of his Libyan childhood.

The 12-year-old Gerbi and his family fled Tripoli in 1967 when an Arab-Israeli war stoked anger against the Jewish state and led to attacks on Jews in his neighborhood.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi expelled the rest of Libya's 38,000 Jews two years later and confiscated their assets. Most Tripoli synagogues have since been destroyed or converted to mosques. Jewish cemeteries have been razed to make way for office blocks on the coast.

Gerbi says he is the first Jew to return to Libya since the revolt that ousted Muammar Gaddafi in August.

He said he knows this because he negotiated the extraction of the last one -his aged, dying aunt who stayed behind to protect the family treasures- from a hospice in 2002.

Now that Gaddafi is gone, Gerbi wants to help interim Libyan leaders rebuild the lost Libya of his childhood and foster the type of religious tolerance between Jews and Muslims that exists in other parts of the Maghreb such as Morocco.

And he wants the Dar Bishi synagogue to be the symbol of reconciliation between Jewish and Muslim Libyans.

Talking over the Muslim call to prayer one evening last week, he told Reuters: "Some tell me I need to accept it's over. I say no, it's our shop, it's our synagogue and it's not over."

"There is something unresolved, unfinished. That is why I am here."
The picture above is Gerbi in the synagogue. It all seems pretty resolved to me. The rebel leadership says "no comment." What could go wrong?

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At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, it would seem to be a done deal. Still, who knows. Chabad may beat him to it....

At 5:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is it with jews wanting to return to where they were most persecuted

does he honestly believe he and other libyan jews will be welcome back with open arms?

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Moriah said...

It is not a good idea to go to Libya and certainly not to build a synagogue. Who do you think will be living here? Nice liberal Muslims who just finished slaughtering each other?


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