I left Libya over 42 years ago when the mobs were roaming the streets. They were not chanting for democracy or yearning for freedom they were looking for Jews. I am a Libyan Jew. I have now lived in the Bay Area for forty years. The upheavals sweeping Libya open old wounds. Violent political culture has often been part of Libyan society, especially towards its Jews.
There was a Jewish presence in the region since the 3rd century BCE – one millennium prior to the advent of Islam. We were "tolerated" to varying degrees by successive rulers and continued to be part of a rich and ongoing thread in the fabric of Libyan society.
During WWII, when the Germans invaded North Africa, there were 36,000 Jews living in Libya, mostly residing in Tripoli and Benghazi.
In 1942, over 2,000 Jews were deported to Nazi labor camps. More than 500 perished. Members of my family died in the Giado Labor Camp in Libya.
After WWII, Arab nationalism spread throughout the Middle East and...More >>