Sunday, June 19, 2011

In ravaged Libya, ghosts of a Jewish past

The Ben Shaif synagogue in Zliten before World War 11. The synagogue was also a centre of pilgrimage

The same AP report as in the post below appears in The Washington Post, but Haaretz chose to omit most of the following section: (with thanks: Lily).

Jewish properties were confiscated. There was no way to determine how many. Debts to Jews were officially erased. Jewish cemeteries were turned into dumping grounds or built over, and most of the dozens of synagogues around the country were either demolished or put to different use. Some became mosques. A community that numbered about 37,000 at its peak vanished.

Inside Libya, the memory of Jews is fading. Elderly Muslim residents who remember their neighbors stay silent, worried they’ll be accused of being Jewish sympathizers.

“There were Jews here once, but they left,” said one Muslim resident of Tripoli’s old Jewish quarter. He nervously shrugged when asked of their fate.

Still, the Libyan Jewish community left small legacies behind.

Their famous fish stew, known as hraimeh, is widely eaten in Libya today. Recently, a government official accompanying international reporters to a seafood restaurant in Tripoli called it “Jewish food” as he hungrily scooped it up. Muslims who defy their faith’s ban on alcohol imbibe homemade bocha, a fig-based spirit once made by local Jews.

Today, Libyan Jews and their descendants number around 110,000. Most live in Israel, with others in Italy and elsewhere. None, if any, have any desire to return as residents, but Moussa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the embattled Gadhafi government, said they would be allowed back — if they first disavowed their Israeli citizenship. “They cannot have both,” Ibrahim said.

Read article in full


I'll put shuls back in Libya (Jewish Chronicle)

2 comments:

in the vanguard said...

It is simply mind-boggling how some Jews are worse Jew-haters than are enemies of the Jews. Those at Ha-aretz who deliberately removed those segments are the most demonic of personalities that can exist. The Satan of Jews are some Jews themselves!

bataween said...

I wouldn't put it down to Haaretz being 'Jew-haters', it could simply that they did not have space. But it is telling that the bit they chose to leave out is about lost and confiscated Jewish properties.