The Reuters photo shows a solitary man in a disgusting mess of garbage and debris, surrounded by grafittied walls. He’s wearing a tallis though, because the building was once, after all, a synagogue.
It was his family’s synagogue in the days before Libya expelled it’s Jews.
The photo is among several accompanying a story about 56-year-old David Gerbi who returned recently to his home town of Tripoli to see his old shul now that Muammar Gaddafi is out of power.
The story speaks of Gerbi revisiting the Dar Bishi synagogue that while in terrible disrepair – an old mattress stuffed into the ark where the Torah scroll once rested and the old mikveh now a garbage dump where cats search for food – is among the better preserved. Most others were destroyed or made into mosques, along with most Jewish cemeteries which now sit under office buildings.
Gerbi, who says he is the first Jew to return to Libya since the revolt, says he hopes to recreate a Jewish community in Libya and foster religious tolerance between Muslims and Jews.
Good luck with that.
But Girbi’s fantasy of Islamic tolerance is not what strikes me most about this story. It’s what’s written between the lines that’s most interesting to me.
The fact that Gerbi and his family had to flee their home and that all of Libya’s Jews were expelled in 1969 – is practically unknown to anyone who wasn’t personally involved. No one took to the streets then demanding the dismantling of the Libyan government. No one decried the fate of Libya’s Jews – or those of the dozens of other Arab countries where this same scenario was played out in the 1950s and ‘60s.
And, more importantly, no one intentionally consigned these people to camps or now demands their right of return or even that they be paid restitution for the property confiscated from them.
The million or so Jews made refugees by the Arab countries their families had called home for centuries are completely forgotten.
Meanwhile, Israel is nearly universally condemned for the fate of the Palestinian Arabs, though Israel didn’t force most of them to flee with nothing, or destroy their mosques.
The world would be hard pressed to find an instance in which Jews in general or Israelis in particular have intentionally desecrated a Muslim or Christian cemetery or house of worship, yet it is Israel and the Jews who are most often condemned and vilified.
Though no one is demanding the right of the Jews dispossessed and expelled from Arab countries to return to their homes or be paid for them, much of the world stands behind the Palestinian Arab demands for a “right of return” to Israel proper, even if a Palestinian state is created, and they don’t seem to be left spinning from the increadible hipocracy of the whole thing.
This is to be a state, according to the recent speech by the so-called “moderate” Palestinian Authority president, that will be totally free of Jews, by the way. That statement, which had it been made by an Israeli about Arabs would have created a nuclear bomb-like explosion of righteous indignation, barely raised an international eyebrow.
In the article, Gerbi describes employing techniques he uses in his psychotherapy practice to try and overcome the widespread, deeply ingrained anti-Semitism he finds all over Libya, which, you might recall, has been “Jew-free” for about 40 years. The type found all over the Arab/Muslim world. The type that produces the usually barely contained anti-Semitic violence regularly unleashed throughout the region and the world.
The argument might be made that the Jews of North Africa and the Arab counties who were expelled with only what they could carry with them, just have to “lump it” because they were assimilated into Israel or chose to live quiet, law-abiding, non-violent lives in other countries.
Fine. But if these are the rules, why don’t they apply to the Palestinian Arabs?
When is the world going to wake up and recognize it’s being duped by a strategy whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel and the West, using our own sense of fair play as the tool of our undoing?
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