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The Libyan Government Is Trying to Keep Control over the Property of Its Expelled Jewish Community

July 24 2017

While Jews have lived in Libya since ancient times, the majority of the country’s Jewish community left between the end of World War II and 1951. Most of the remaining Jews fled after the outbreak of anti-Semitic violence following the Six-Day War. Now, writes Ben Cohen, the Libyan government is trying to keep remnants of local Jewish culture from leaving the country:

Campaigners representing Jewish communities expelled from Arab countries reacted furiously on Tuesday to an effort by the current Libyan government to win legal recognition for its claims to property of Jewish heritage.

[U]nder the terms of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which the Libyans have submitted to the U.S. State Department, the historic properties of the Jewish community in Libya—including archives, holy books, and objects used in synagogue worship—would be barred from entry into the United States. . . .

Ordered by the government to leave the country “temporarily” with the equivalent of $50 each, none of Libya’s Jews [who left in 1967] ever returned. Following Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s successful coup in 1969, all property and assets belonging to the community were seized, while the promised “compensation” never arrived. . . .

Attempts by Libyan Jews to restore their cultural heritage in the country following Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011 have typically been met with hostile responses. In 2011, an effort by Tripoli-born Jew David Gerbi to restore the city’s synagogue was abruptly ended when he was driven from the site by a group of armed men.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jewish World, Libya, Mizrahi Jewry, Synagogues

 

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy