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.

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

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat