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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.

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

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations