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Friday, 14 October 2011

Is there "No Place for the Jew in Libya"?

A friend alerted me to the news about David Gerbi, a Libyan refugee who recently returned to his homeland. AP reports that:
When Gerbi entered a derelict synagogue in Tripoli and attempted to clean it he was warned off by authorities who said that if he did not leave, a mob would kill him. On the eve of Yom Kippur last week, a demonstration against Gerbi was held; protestors brandished placards that read, "There is no place for the Jew in Libya".
You have to remember that there have been Jewish Libyans for thousands of years; these are not recent immigrants or Western interlopers - these are Libyans, as entitled to live there as anybody else. I was interested to read this analysis, in which Shiraz Maher writes:
While the radicals begin to rampage in Egypt and elsewhere, the West needs now - more than ever - to identify its liberal partners in those countries and support them with the political and intellectual capital they will need to succeed. Failing to do so could turn our fears of a more intolerant and insular Middle East into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 
That ties in nicely with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg having said in a recent speech:
Successful revolutions may change the world overnight. But, in many ways, it's the morning after that the real work begins...(We) will support a range of political projects, from assisting fledgling movements as they turn into organised political parties, to setting up parliamentary procedures for new legislatures, putting in place processes to prevent corruption, staffing projects to engage women and other marginalised groups, giving technical assistance to help replace state media monopolies with a plural press and helping register huge numbers of people who have never voted before...We've committed resources to this - £110m over the next four years with £20m now set aside specifically for Libya...(Don't) ever underestimate this stage of reform. This is when you lock in a revolution. This is when you turn the hopes and dreams of millions of citizens into the institutions and practices of a well-functioning state.
The news about about David Gerbi makes such work all the more urgent.

1 comment:

  1. And, of course, even if they WERE recent immigrants they'd still have rights as citizens.