David Gerbi believed the news stories about a flowering of Western values in Libya. He took the mainstream media at its word, and people like Barack Obama at their word, that what was happening in Libya was a wonderful throwing-off of oppression and reaffirmation of human rights. But when he got there, he discovered the brutal truth behind all the fog of political correctness: “There is no place for Jews in Libya.”
A few hundred angry protesters gathered in central Tripoli on the eve of Yom Kippur on Friday, calling for the deportation of a Libyan Jew who has been trying to reopen a synagogue sealed since ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi expelled the country”s Jewish community in 1967.
The protesters carried signs reading, “There is no place for the Jews in Libya,” and “We don’t have a place for Zionism.”
The crowds tried to storm Italian Libyan Jewish psychoanalyst David Gerbi’s Corinthia Hotel in central Tripoli. There was also a demonstration in Benghazi in the east of the country.
According to Gerbi, the crowd wanted to forcibly remove him from the hotel.
“They were impeded by hotel and Libyan security and government officials,” he said.
Gerbi said that National Security Adviser Abdel Karim Bazama, rebel leader Mustafa Saghezli, Interior Minister Ahmed Dharat and Justice Minister Muhammad Allaghi were among the government officials present at the hotel.
“The Tripoli crowd dispersed after Allaghi warned that any use of force on the part of the protesters would immediately result in strong international condemnation,” Gerbi said.
“He [Allaghi] reassured them the “˜problem” would be resolved within 48 hours.”
The demonstrations were ignited by an attempt by Dr.Gerbi to clean the debris and pray in Tripoli’s abandoned Dar Bishi Synagogue. Dr. Gerbi had joined the National Transitional Council (NTC) rebel group last spring, first as a volunteer at the Benghazi Psychiatric Hospital and then joining and helping the rebels themselves.
“This incident has served to expose the dangerous reality simmering beneath the surface,” he said.
“I want to contribute to, not obstruct, the building of a new democratic and pluralistic Libya. It is sad and absurd that my mere presence in Libya, should set off so much hostility and I regret this,” Gerbi said.
“However,” he continued, “what happened reveals the extent of Gaddafi’s anti-Semitic conditioning of an entire generation, those in their forties and fifties. Forty-two years of lies, of hate propaganda falsely accusing Jews of having been paid off to abandon the country in 1967, of having robbed Palestinians of their homes and of planning to colonize Libya.”
“Fortunately, the older generation still recalls warm friendships with former Jewish neighbors,” Gerbi said, “and I will continue to work to restore a 2,300-year-old coexistence and advocate active roles in the NTC for Libyan Jews, for the Libyan Amazigh population, for women and all ethnic and religious minorities.”…
It’s not Gaddafi, Gerbi, it’s Islam. The “warm friendships” of which you speak were forged when Libya was under strong Western influence. Now that is long gone.