. . . And the
Jews of Libya ! ?
By: Mohamed Ben-Ghalbon*
The Full Article
(Translated from Arabic)
The following article was submitted for publishing in
Al-Hayat Newspaper in February 1995. A heavily edited version of it
was published in the “Ideas” section on 9th March 1995, Issue
No.11705 under the above title, which was chosen by the editor (over
half of the sent piece was in fact omitted).
To view the published part, please click
or the article’s image below.
The published part of the article is written here in italic.
The Libyan case appears to observers to be quite a
simple case, like any of the dozens of similar cases that filled the
third world over the latter half of this century. A group of Army
officers carryout a military coup de Etat and seize power in the
country. One of the junta rules absolute and sends his comrades to
the same fate as the previous officials. He turns into a despot and
rules with an iron fist.
People get fed up and the solution to the problem is
as simple as the problem it self. A new junta emerges from the same
army to execute a new coup de Etat, it overthrows the dictator and
begins to effect a “Reform Program”, and so on....
However our case is far from this simple, or else it
would have followed the same predictable pattern. Some of us
realise this fact while others stand bewildered and in horror at the
length of time this “nightmare” has taken, and by its ability to
survive all this time despite its obvious deficiencies and
Some of us fully realise that there is more than one
player in our predicament, and more than one interested party. That
it is a result of more than one problem, while others grasp only
parts of that, and with a varied degree of clarity.
As all conventional attempts to address the Libyan
case have repeatedly failed,
it is perhaps our duty to now review our attitude towards it.
In order to accomplish that, or for any conventional
method to succeed, we ought to reduce the size of the problem and
free it from any excess weight. The following is one example of
Whilst the Palestinians and Israelis have found ways
of reconciliation, and Jordan began to normalize its relationship
with Israel, I feel that reconciliation between Libyans and their
Jewish compatriots is neither impossible nor needs to be delayed any
Yes, there were thousands of Jews who had lived in
Libya for many centuries, and until 1967 they formed a peaceful
minority within Libyan society. In June of that year the Libyan
security forces appeared reluctant to protect the Jewish citizens
from the angry mob who were inflamed by the Israeli attack on
Egypt. Consequently a number of Jews lost their lives and many more
were injured and their properties pillaged and burnt.
That day was a dark episode that can never be
justified. It was further compounded by the Libyan government's
decision to evacuate the Jews from Libya in an attempt to rid
themselves of the responsibility of protecting them. They were
hastily evacuated to Italy in an undignified fashion which added to
their fears and distress.
is nothing, in my opinion, to prevent the Libyans in exile and the
Libyan opposition groups from taking a positive step towards their
fellow Jewish countrymen, with whom we now share similar
circumstances, and re-build the old friendly ties between us. We
should do this for the sake of righteousness, justice and all that
is good and virtuous in the Libyan nature.
of the Libyan Constitutional Union
Thursday, 9 March 1995. Issue No: 11705)
the Head of the Libyan Jewish Community
the United Kingdom
(Translated from Arabic)*
10 June 2005
our Jewish compatriots were subjected to in 1967 was truly
horrible. We should not have let the crimes of the Israeli army
against the Palestinians destroy the harmony of the Libyan nation.
already expressed this opinion openly more than ten years ago, well
before the Jewish case gained prominence on the Libyan stage of
events. This was published in the London based daily newspaper Al-Hayat,
9th March 1995, Issue No11705 (available in the archival
site of the Libyan Constitutional Union:
refutes the accusation made in your open letter recently posted on
two Libyan web sites on the internet (“Akhbar Libya” on 26th
May & “Libya our Home” on 28th May 2005), that Libyan
activists “were never concerned with the Jewish community”.
Furthermore, the claim that the riots of 1945 & 1948 “were
without any reason” is in contradiction to official British
documents. I have previously published copies of these documents in
a series of three instalments on three consecutive days in
“Al-Hayat” between 21st and 23rd September
1997. (Copies can also be found by following the above link).
clearly reflects our empathy for our Jewish compatriots in their
suffering as deeply as we feel, in similar circumstances, for the
rest of the minorities and ethnic groups that comprise the Libyan
nation. And this endeavour on our part is a proof of our continuous
efforts to comprehend and analyse that period of the modern history
of our country to identify and understand the roots of this problem
without bias or prejudice.
without reservation what happened to Libya’s Jews in 1945 and 1948.
We also wish to point to the fact that the British Government was
responsible for their safety at that time, as Libya was not yet an
independent state. The entire country was under the protection of
the British Administration, which was mandated by the UN to keep law
and order in the country that was just liberated from Italian
colonialism. At that point the right of its people for the
establishment of an independent state had not yet been recognised.
So it might be the case that demands and condemnations should be
directed toward the British Government, which may be the source of
the encouragement for the Jews to immigrate to Palestine.
stated in your letter that during the time of the monarchy “the
Jews have been deprived of several of their rights like the right to
vote or to run for a seat in Parliament, the right to have equal
opportunity to work in government or in the army”. This is
true. However, this was implemented according to oral orders by
officials without any legal basis in clear violation of the
Constitution. Our Jewish compatriots never legally challenged those
orders. Libya, then, had a judiciary system that secured the right
of taking up of cases against the government when the constitution
constitutional right to challenge the state in the courts of law had
been exercised in complete freedom and at the highest level. An
occasion of this was when The Supreme Court ruled to nullify a Royal
Decree (see page 125 of, “Ben-Halim’s Conspiracy Against Democracy:
1954” by Ali Al-deb). Another example was when the Supreme Court
had ruled in favour of a contractor company against a government
decision and the ruling was actually enforced (see the case of
“Fezzan Road” in “Modern Libya” by Majid Khedouri, page 315 of the
Libya’s Jews have made the same error as the “Libyan Political
Parties” when they were banned from participating in the Libyan
political life. Neither resorted to the courts to insist on their
rights nor sought to indict the government for contravening the
constitution. Had the political parties or the Jewish community
done so, they would have undoubtedly gained their legitimate rights
as well as contributed to enriching the constitutional experience of
the newly born state. The Libyan State had just emerged from
colonial rule and mistakes accompanied its unsteady first steps.
However, the mistakes were primarily a result of lack of knowledge
but not malevolence.
rest of their fellow countrymen, Libya’s Jews did not fully
comprehend the value and power of their internationally affirmed
constitution to obtain and maintain their rights.
conclusion I unequivocally re-emphasise that there is nothing in the
above that justifies, or eases the pain of the killing of any
citizen by another, or the injustice committed by one group against
another, for any reason, or under any pretext.
the Libyan Constitutional Union
(This letter was originally written in Arabic and
posted on the aforementioned two web sites on
and 30th May.) (click Here to
view Arabic Letter)
Gaddafi and the
We at the
Libyan Constitutional Union (LCU) are certain that the
manner in which the monarchist Libyan Government dealt
with the events of June 1967 regarding its Jewish
citizens accelerated the demise of the Libyan throne
and coloured with hostility the choice of its
that were already in the making
for a regime change in Libya, with
patience and prudence, by those who hold the reins and
move the political pieces in our miserable part of the
world were modified to take a vengeful course
In the beginning of
the 1980’s uprising Libyan patriots in alliance with several
major Arab states, which were unhappy with Gaddafi, began to
form a serious threat to the Libyan regime. However, this
was not suitable to those who hold the reins because the
vengeful plan (for Libya) had not run its complete course
just yet and the country’s infrastructure did not reach the
absolute wreck that was intended for it. The once promising
alliance was deliberately contained within a single
organisation which went on to marginalize everyone outside
its umbrella and plunged the alliance into a void of failure
Now that Libya’s
infrastructure has hit rock bottom and the country’s sole
decision maker openly recognises the rights of the Libyan
Jews to citizenship and compensation, the ruthless plan, it
appears, is deemed to have completed its course and the
country is welcomed back into the international fold.
It is no longer a
secret that the Libyan Jews’ right for compensation was
among the conditions for accepting Libya’s return to the
international fold and granting Gaddafi and his heirs a new
and long-lasting lease to rule Libya. (Ref:
Statement by the U.S.
assistant secretary of State
for Near and Eastern affairs William J. Burns before
the U.S. House of Representatives’ International Relations
Committee on March 16, 2005:
With the Lockerbie
compensation still fresh in the mind, it is easy to picture
the return of the Libyan Jews and the result of negotiations
for compensation, particularly since it is now an
established fact that Gaddafi will agree to all that secures
continuity of his reign.
However, this is
not what really worries us. We are concerned about a far
greater matter. When the survival of a particular regime
becomes dependent on satisfying a minority of its citizens.
A minority that happens to be a well-trained and a tightly
knit community that enjoys a completely advantaged standing
with the superpower that is exerting the pressure and holds
all the pieces. To have this minority’s interests, as they
alone desire them, as a condition to allowing the entire
nation back to the international fold, would undoubtedly
lose the regime its decision-making power and the nation
(with its infrastructure in complete ruins) its political
and economical independence. This will also lead to a state
where that minority is elevated to the elitist status within
None of Gaddafi’s
maverick politics or green theories will get him out of this
particular web. The trap was designed by ruthless
professionals who meticulously studied and used his
psychology to achieve a result where he is persuaded to
react naturally in predictable ways to implement
their objectives and faithfully complete the course.
We believe that the
above analysis was the pre-determined outcome of the
Libyan ordeal of the past 35 years,
and it is the course we see
developments will follow.
“New world order”
wishes will turn into orders. Gaddafi’s concessions will
continue with the waves of pressure. He will be powerless.
He will have no ground on which to contest the imposed
demands, as he is the sole decision maker in the
“Jamahiriya”. He created it and the laws and legislations
are entirely of his making. He cannot hide behind the
“People’s National Assembly” or divert responsibility to
it. Past years have shown the assembly to be a puppet show
that merely rubber-stamps his wishes.
endorsed Libyan Constitution of 1951 was the only threat to
implementing the wicked plot. Gaddafi was therefore
‘encouraged’ to abolish The Constitution from the outset.
Attempts by The Libyan Constitutional Union to raise the
Constitutional banner were stifled at birth, and the
movement was isolated and kept in the dark to the extent
that our call could only manage to break through barriers
and reach the Libyan Opposition itself after 24 years of
perseverance. This was in spite of the clarity and
relevance of its message, in addition, to the sincerity and
aptitude of the majority of its target audience, the Libyan
the late King Hassan II of Morocco was the only man who
recognised our goal from the beginning. He sent a personal
representative to express his admiration and appreciation
and to offer us his valuable and decisive support as a gift
to the Libyan people. However, this was on condition that
we amend a certain point in our case. His condition was
(sadly) motivated by misinformation from factions of his
then guests from the Libyan opposition groups. This
is not the appropriate time to elaborate on this matter.
Our refusal to comply lost us The King’s support, as we
could not convince his majesty that his guests were
misleading him. A fact he learnt later but after Libya had
lost that golden opportunity. The late King assigned one of
his most trusted men, the veteran politician and former
Prime Minister of Morocco Mr Almuti Abu Obeid, to form the
“Moroccan Constitutional Union” in the spring of 1983
to benefit the Moroccan people of the concept which had
profoundly appealed to him.
Had Gaddafi ever
reverted back to The Constitution at any time of his rule
and recognised, respected and enforced it, he would still
have been able to rule supreme as he wished (only without
the divine aura he ruthlessly pursued),
would now be in a position to use it as an international
shield to defend the country’s sovereignty. He would be in
a position to legitimately refer unreasonable demands to
parliament, which in turn would be shielded with the
Was posted on
Libya Al-Mustakbal web site on 25 Jul 05
Libya Our Home
on 1 Aug 05
Testimony of British Government’s Secret Documents.
by: Mohamed Ben Ghalbon
subject of “Libya’s Jews” and the dramatic events, which befell them
since 1945, and eventually led to their abrupt exodus from Libya in
June 1967, is widely discussed on the Internet. Entire web sites
are dedicated to the matter, and they supplement the many books,
which have been written about the subject in recent years.
noticeable, however, that all the facts are often presented from one
side only, inevitably leading to many inaccurate, and often grave
profound influence of two major factors which gave rise to those
crises and helped escalate them, namely the surge of Zionism among
young Jews throughout the Arab world, and the creation of the state
of Israel, are rarely put in their proper context.
I, therefore, wish to introduce the facts contained in British
Government Secret Documents that are released after 30/50 years, and
are kept in “The National Archives”.
These documents include reports by the British Military
Administration in Libya, which was in charge during the two early
disturbances of 1945 and 1948 prior to Libya’s full independence.
Parliamentary records, press reports from Jewish newspapers and
correspondences between British Government Officials and various
Jewish International Organizations are also included.
This is an attempt to compensate for the lack of a credible recorded
chronology of that critical period of our country’s history. The
introduction of this alternative source of solid facts will
hopefully help us all form an accurate picture of what really
happened, and to understand the circumstances that led to it.
To ensure accuracy,
entire documents were used throughout. In some cases this
resulted in repetition.
* ** *
File No: FO371/45396
Extract from "The Jewish
of November 16th 1945
The grave outbreak of murder, rioting, and arson by Arabs in
Tripoli on Sunday of last week, which, as briefly reported in our
last issue, resulted in the deaths of 74 Jews, was followed on the
Tuesday by further anti-Jewish riots at Zanzura, to the west of Tripoli,
when 30 Jews, including a number of children, were killed. Another
six Jews were killed at Zavia, where troops opened fire, and two
Jews were killed near Kussabat.
Altogether, over 100 Jews have been killed and 219 wounded in
these riots, which were instigated and carried out by subversive
Arab elements. One Arab was killed and 36 were injured.
The Jewish quarters at souk el Juma and Tejura in
Tripoli were looted and gutted.
At Zanzura, Arabs attacked the Jewish quarter, set fire to the
Synagogue and some houses and looted Jewish property.
Stern measures were taken by the British Administration who took
in order to quell the riots. There was intensive patrolling by
troops and police, who had orders to shoot all looters and to fire,
if necessary, to disperse groups of more than five persons. Over
550 rioters were arrested, including 17 Arab leaders.
A message of sympathy and encouragement from the yishuv was sent
to Mr. Zanchino Habib, President of the Jewish community of
Tripoli, on behalf of the Vaad Leumi by the President, Mr. Isaac
"The Yishu is horrified at the terrible pogrom”, the message
says. "Your sacrifices are further proof of the bitter fate
threatening Jewish minorities in the adjacent countries. Be strong
and of good courage. Lift up your eyes towards
Zion whence Israel's salvation will come”.
The trial of some of those arrested for rioting started before
British military courts in Tripoli
An official communiqué states that
Tripolitania is now quiet, but that irresponsible elements have not
entirely ceased their activities.
The funerals of Jews killed in the rioting "passed off without
incident", the communiqué added.
The Mufti of Tripolitania, in condemning the riots, said that
they were "a most disgraceful and lamentable episode". He called
upon the Arab population to return to peace and restore the previous
happy relationship, which existed between the Jews and the Arabs.
Dated: 27th November 1945
Major Renton: asked the Secretary of
State for War whether he will make a statement about the recent
Tripolitania, with particular reference to the cause of such
disturbances; the places where they occurred; and the steps taken
for the prevention of similar disturbances in future.
The Jewish community in
Tripolitania have lived in friendly relations With the Arabs for
many centuries. Although political tension had increased in the
territory owing to the uncertainty regarding its future there was no
reason to anticipate an anti-Jewish outburst. The outburst itself
appears to have been a spontaneous reaction to similar troubles in Egypt
regarding the Palestine
situation. Later evidence points to local political instigation on
the part of Arab extremists.
The disturbances began in
Tripoli City on the night 4th/5th November at first in the form of
mob violence, which was checked, by the following night by the
intervention of the garrison. The disturbances, which were
aggravated by hooliganism and looting, then spread to the suburbs
and outlying towns (in particular Zanzur, Cassabat, Zliten, Zavia)
when the attacks became sporadic and widely dispersed, with
incendiarism, street assaults and attacks on individual houses by
single Arabs or small parties, making it difficult to restore
By 8th November the situation was again quiet. Five hundred and
seventy-five arrests were made, and trials began on 8th November.
Additional Military Government personnel have been dispatched to Tripolitania; a curfew was
imposed. Sermons denouncing the extremists have been preached in
all Tripolitan mosques, and statements to the same effect have been
issued by the Secretary-General of the Arab League and El-Sayyed
Idris El-Senussi. Arabs have also contributed to a voluntary relief
organization for the Jews.
Dated: 18th December 1945
Law and Order
Mr.Porter asked the Secretary of
State for War whether he is aware that subsequent to the recent
Tripoli, the local Arab Leaders refused to guarantee that order be
maintained unless the following demands were met:
Removal of the Palestinian Company attached to the
Disbandment of the Jewish Boy Scouts' association.
the Jewish members of the police. And what reply has been given to
Mr.Lawson replied that demands of this
nature have not been made and that local Arab leaders have made no
such refusal to guarantee law and order.
Dated: 27th November 1945
WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS.
55 NEW CAVENDISH STREET
TELEPHONE: WELBECK 1314
27th November 1945
The Rt. Hon. Ernest Bevin, M.P
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
11 Downing Street,S.W.l.
I am directed by the Executive of the World Jewish Congress to
refer to the recent anti-Jewish riots in
Tripoli, which resulted in a heavy loss of Jewish life and
destruction of much property belonging to the Jews.
The World Jewish Congress has received from the Jewish Community
of Tripoli a bitter protest against this out break of anti-Jewish
violence, hitherto unknown throughout centuries of peaceful and
friendly relations between the local Arab and Jewish populations. In
complaining of the failure of the military and civil authorities to
suppress the outbreak, the Jewish Community State that,
notwithstanding their appeal to the authorities for prompt measures
of protection, the attacks against the Jews and their property
continued for more than 48 hours.
The reports reaching the World Jewish Congress state also that
Arab elements hostile to the Jews and associated with the former
Nazi and Fascist regimes, have recently found their way into Tripoli
and other North African countries, and the disturbances which have
resulted in heavy loss of Jewish life and property have been
instigated by and carried out under their direction.
I am directed by the Executive of the World Jewish Congress to
express the earnest hope and to request that His Majesty's
Government will institute an immediate inquiry into the
circumstances of the anti-Jewish outbreak in Tripoli
in order that the responsibility for these outbreaks may be
determined, and that measures may be taken to prevent their
recurrence. It is requested in particular that those found
responsible for provoking and carrying out the attacks against Jews
should be punished severely, that measures be taken to suppress
subversive and anti-Jewish activities, that instructions be issued
to the British military authorities to secure the fullest protection
of the Jewish community, and that full compensation and restitution
be exacted and made in respect of the loss of Jewish life and
A letter in similar terms to the foregoing has been addressed to
the Secretary of State for War.
I am, Sir,
A. L. Easterman
Document ref: E9368/119/31,
3rd January 1946
WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS.
55, NEW CAVENDISH
TELEPHONE: WELBECK 1314
The Rt. Hon. Ernest Bevin, M.P.,
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
I am directed to refer to my letter of November 27th last
on the subject of the recent anti-Jewish riots in Tripoli,
and to express the hope that an early reply may be received.
The World Jewish Congress has received a cable from the Jewish
Community in Tripoli
stating that "the conditions of our community are desperate." and
complaining that no investigation has been made into the recent
disturbances, which resulted in heavy loss of Jewish life and
I am requested to enquire whether the proposals made in the
letter of November 27th have met with the approval of His
Majesty's Government, and whether any action in relation to them has
been taken or is contemplated.
A draft of the War Office’s reply to
Mr. A L Easterman’s correspondences
Prepared by Mr. A C W Drew, and approved by
T Wikeley of the Foreign Office
14th January 1946 (ref:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your letter of
the 27th November on the subject of the recent
anti-Jewish riots in
Tripoli, and to express his regret that he has not been able to let
you have an earlier reply.
As explained by Mr. Lawson in his statement in the House on the
27th November, the sporadic nature of the outbreak in
Tripolitania made it difficult to restore security quickly but
everything was done to bring it under control as soon as possible.
The final report, which is being prepared, on the incident has not
yet been received, but so far there is no evidence of any organized
external influences, and certainly none which might be accredited to
Nazi or Facist sources.
With regard to the other points you raised, precautionary
measures were, in fact, taken at once, and continued in operation
after the disturbances. Many arrests were made at the time and the
trials of the accused began immediately after the disturbances.
The question of compensation and restitution to be exacted for
the loss of Jewish life and property is primarily a matter for the
courts to decide, and any claims should accordingly be submitted to
the appropriate judicial authorities if this has not already been
A.L. Easterman, Esq.,
World Jewish Congress.
* ** *
12th June 1948
THE DISTURBANCES IN TRIPOLI OF
12th JUNE 1948.
An Account issued by the Public Information Office drawn from
and semi-official sources, and the reports of eyewitnesses.
The disturbances in
Tripoli, which broke out in the afternoon of Saturday June 12th 1948, lasted for only a few hours
altogether; and quick action by the Civil and Military authorities
prevented what might have been a much more serious outbreak.
An impartial and substantially accurate account was sent out by
the correspondents of the Press during the disturbances; and It Is
as well to put on record that the reports of responsible neutral
observers such as the U.S, French and Greek Consular representatives
combine in agreeing that the action of the authorities; was both
prompt and efficient In checking the outbreak.
The leaders of the Jewish Community however, have since launched
a series of somewhat hysterical charges against the British
authorities, accusing them of slackness of administration, delay in
deploying the security services for the protection of Jewish lives
and property, and lack of firmness In dealing with the rioters. They
have not even hesitated to accuse the authorities of connivance with
the Arabs in initiating the disturbances; though what profit Britain
obtains from promoting racial trouble in Libya while her trusteeship
over that territory is in the course of being debated by the Four
Power representatives in London, is not evident. These accusations
have been cabled to various Jewish world organizations, and
doubtless will be used by the enemies of Britain
to make propaganda.
What are the facts?
It may be as well to say here a few preliminary words on the
general situation in Tripoli
as it affected Jews and Arabs at the outbreak of the disturbances.
Relations between the two communities were, so far as can be
ascertained, normal. A certain tension was naturally noticeable
among the Jewish community who was apprehensive that Arab feeling
over the events in
Palestine might well turn against those Jews living outside. There
is no evidence however that these misgivings were justified or that
there had been any hardening in Arab feeling in the City. Nor had
the news of anti-Jewish riots in Algeria received here earlier in
the week any appreciable reaction among the responsible Arab
There was, however, one element, which had a disturbing influence
in the City. This was the presence of a number of Tunisian
volunteers, estimated at about 200, who had arrived in
Tripoli en route to Palestine.
These Arabs, few of whom were known personally to the Tripoli Arabs,
were in a state of some excitement as orders had just been received
from the Arab authorities in Egypt
that no more volunteers were wanted, and it was therefore necessary
for them to return to Tunis. It was the
presence of these disgruntled visitors combined with a certain
aggressive spirit noticeable lately among the local Jewish youth
(two Arabs had been taken to hospital on 6n June 11th after
incidents in which they had been beaten by Jews after isolated
street accidents) that possibly provided the fuel for the outbreak
The Saturday morning and afternoon of June 12th were completely
normal until 16.10 hrs. At this latter time a Jewish youth in the
vicinity of the junction of Via Leopardi and Corso Sicilia became
involved in an argument with an Arab. Some Tunisian Arabs, believed
two, in the vicinity, also joined in and words led to blows and a
running fight down the Via Leopardi in which other Tunisians from
the vicinity of the Cafe Pasquale and Jews from the Mercato Rionale
joined. The argument between the original Jew and Tunisians was
forgotten and the cry was taken up by Arabs, presumed to be
Tunisians, of "If we can’t go to Palestine
to fight the Jews lets fight them here”. A crowd of Arabs quickly
gathered and made for the Jewish quarter of the Old City via the Bab
el Horria, Via Manzoni, Via Leopardi areas. Bombs were thrown by
Jews at these Arabs who were
them selves armed with sticks and stones.
By 16.40 hrs a crowd of about 500 Arabs, mostly young boys, had
taken up positions on the high waste ground to the immediate West of
the Via Leopardi and were stoning Jews making for the Old City and
others living in houses between Via Leopardi and Via Manzoni. The
Jews were retaliating and had taken up positions on rooftops.
Looting had started in houses nearby to the Arab crowd. A police
officer and a party of police from Market Police Station turned out
and on approaching the Jewish quarter from the Via Leopardi came
under stone throwing from Jews on the city walls.
A bomb was thrown at the police party from the
rooftops manned by
Jews. This was followed by several shots from small arms. The
police party opened fire and succeeded temporarily in clearing an
area between the opposing factions. A general stand-to of police was
ordered at 17.40 hrs and a curfew ordered from 19.00 to 06.00hrs.
Looting continued In isolated areas in the vicinity of the Via
Dante, Via Petrarca, Via Leopardi, and Via Manzoni. Heavy stoning
started again at 18.15 hrs followed by the first cases of arson.
Military reinforcements moved to Market and Western Police Stations.
With the coming of the curfew, the main Arab crowd broke into
several groups each from 50 to 500 strong and made their way from
the affected area in the vicinity of the
Old City through the New City to the Dahra,
Fesclum and Sharia Sidi Khalifa. En route these gangs looted and set
fire to Jewish shops, houses, garages and stores. As a result,
Tripoli Engineering Company and a large store, both belonging to
Giuseppe Habib, were completely gutted.
Numerous other fires were caused In the vicinity of the Via
Petrarca, Via Dante and Via Leopardi.
Curfew was rigorously enforced by police and Military composite
mobile and foot patrols.
By 2O.00 hrs the situation in the vicinity of the
Old City was completely under control except for fires, which were
still burning. On its way home, one gang of about 50 Arabs stoned
the house of Giuseppe Habib in the Via Giuseppe Orsi. From 20.00 hrs
to 23.00 hrs several minor incidents took place and police mobile
patrols besides enforcing the curfew were called upon to deal with
the instances of extricating Jews who had taken refuge at the
Municipal beach, in shops In the new city and elsewhere, and of arresting
Arabs hiding in the Arab
Cemetery evading curfew.
Casualties up to
midnight on 12th June 1940 were as Follows: -
An Unknown number of Jews and Arabs were treated at the
Colonial Hospital and elsewhere but not detained.
Midnight on 12/6/48 until 06.00 hrs the
next morning no incidents were reported. Some 47 arrests were made
for disregard of the Curfew Regulations.
With the lifting of the curfew at 16.00 hrs an attempt by
Some 200 Jews to leave the
Old City to collect animals was prevented by the Police. Jews had by
06.30 hrs taken up positions on the Old
City wall and roof tops. At 07.00 hrs two groups of Arabs approx.
each 40 strong gathered in the Suk el Talat. These were dispersed by
Police who fired one round. At 07.15 hrs trouble broke out again
between Jews and Arabs in the vicinity of Via Leopardi and Via
Manzoni. Stoning started, followed by looting of Jewish premises.
By 07.50 hrs police had cleared a gap between Jews and Arabs in
this area. One Italian hand grenade thrown at the police truck
bounced from the road and exploded harmlessly on open ground. This
can only have come from the rooftops of Jewish houses. A large crowd
of Arabs had by this time gathered in the Via Leopardi and heavy
stoning was going on. At 08.15 hrs control passed from the Civil
Authorities to the Military Commander but Police remained in their
positions until troops were deployed at aprrox. 10.00 hrs. At
approx. ll.30 hrs Jews on the City Walls heavily stoned the diesel
train making for the port. A police escort was forwarded to get the
train through. The situation in the
Old City had, by this time, become out of control and hand to hand
fighting was taking place at several approaches. Jews on the City
wall and rooftops had bottles of oil and benzine, which they were
endeavoring to throw on the Arab crowds. Looting in the area
surrounding the Jewish Hara, and arson in Via Ippolito Nievo was
The Army had completely restored order in the areas round the
Old City by 11.30 hrs. A large number of Arabs approx. 1,000 had
been encircled and were screened by Police. Night looters were
arrested. Most of the encircled Arabs were hawkers and street
Curfew was enforced from
midday onwards. No further incidents were reported during the night.
With the lifting of curfew at 06.00 hrs on 14/6/48
Police mobile patrols in strength operated throughout the Old and New City area. Two Arab
women were arrested for looting in the Case Popolare area. Jewish
looting of Arab houses in the Old
City began on the 13th, and by the following day some 17 Arab houses
had been looted by Jews of whom seven had been arrested.
The following casualties had been notified up to 08.00 hrs on 14/6/48:
The following police arrests had been made up to the same hour: -
Poss. Of Arms
The situation at 08.00 hrs was quiet although tension between
Arab and Jew was obvious especially in the affected area i.e.
Old City and Market P.S.
Police patrolled in strength - Military remaining in deployed
positions. No incidents took place during the morning. At 12.00 hrs
military enforced a curfew of the area North of the Corso Sicilia
Old City. Two Arabs and one Jew were shot by troops during the
enforcement of this curfew. No incidents took place in the rest of
Tripoli during the remainder of the day. Curfew was re-imposed at
19.00 hrs to 06.00 hrs on 15/6/48 and enforced by Police
and Military. By 19.00 hrs tension had eased considerably. At 19.15
hrs police attended the deportation of 260 Tunisian Volunteers for
Palestine who were ordered to be returned to their own country. They
left without incident.
The burial of 3 adult Jews and one child killed during the
night 12-13/6/48 was carried out without incident under police
Jewish posters to the effect "It is honourable to die for one's
country" were found on and removed from the wall of the Old City
At 23.00 hrs police escorted food from the new city into the
Jewish Hara where it was distributed to the refugees in the
32 arrests were made breaking the Curfew Regulation, which brought
the total arrests during the period of disturbances up to the
Poss. Of Arms
About 10% of this total were
Tripoli town Arabs; 10% were
Jews; the remaining 80% were all Arabs from
Tunis or the provincial areas of Tripolitania.
No incidents took place during the night 14-15/6/48.
FO 160/98, Document ref:
Dated: 12th June 1948
APPENDIX TO POLICE REPORT ON DISORDERS
12th JUNE 1948
(1) At a meeting of Arab and Jewish Committees on the 14th June, the
latter publicly asserted that they had no confidence in the Arab
police who did nothing, to prevent the mobs looting, murdering, and
(2) A written complaint to the Chief Administrator on 15th June, and
verbal complaints to S.C.A.0. Superintendent Tripoli, Captain
Stanley, B.I.S Brammer and Gardner, and to Station Officers Market
and. Western, allege that the Arab police failed in their duties on
(1) The official police report, which is wholly factual, will
dispose of these malicious assertions.
(2) Admitted to hospital were four Arabs dead and twelve wounded by
gunshot. It is established that the troops shot one Arab on the 13th
and two on the 14th as curfew breakers. British police officers shot
one Arab dead and wounded two others. Ten Arabs therefore, were shot
by the Muslim police. These facts in themselves dispose of certain
of the allegations.
(3) That arson was not greater and looting and damage to property
more widespread was due in large part to the dispersal of rioters
and looters by the Muslim police. Fifty-eight Arab arrests, in
flagrant delicto, were made by Muslim police.
(4) At one period there were 250 Jewish refugees in Market Police
Station, and numbers in Western, who were cared for by Muslim
police. These were all taken to their places of refuge by Muslim
police in police transport, or escorted by them on foot.
(5) Eleven members of two Jewish families were saved from being
incinerated in the second floor of a burning building by the efforts
of Muslim Police.
(6) Members of H.M. Forces, British civilians, and British police
officers, have testified to the sterling work performed by Muslim
police in assisting Jews evacuating from the old City with the
removal of their household belongings.
(7) I have testified in the conclusion to my police report of the
care with which Muslim police handled seriously wounded and injured
Jews and removed terrified women and children to safety.
(8) All Jewish property recovered from Arab looters was duo to the
efforts of Muslim police.
(9) The burial of ten Jewish victims in the early hours of the 13th
morning by representatives of the Jewish Community escorted by a
party of police under two British officers elicited an outburst of
ingratitude, first from the President of the Community and later
from the Chief Rabbi. It was necessary not to delay the burials, and
early burial had been requested of the P.M.0 by the Chief Rabbi; it
was also essential that they should take place within the curfew
period. The relatives were informed and a Rabbi was present. The
President desired the burials to take place at l000 hours on the
14th June, and was informed that they had already taken place, to
which he replied it was a “disgrace” and a “sacrilege”. The Chief
Rabbi expressed himself in somewhat similar terms.
On the instructions of the Chief Administrator, B. I. Brammer was
attached to the office of the Committee of the Jewish Community from
16th to 20th June, both days inclusive, for the purpose
of hearing, and Investigating complaints which previously were the
subject of continual telephone communications from the president,
Chief Rabbi, and other members of the Committee, to H.0, B.M.A,
S.C.A.0, and Province police officers. A copy of his report is
enclosed. (see below)*
The spate of calls for assistance, false information, and rumors of
further disorders and the like are inseparable from racial
disturbances, and every sympathy is felt for the minorities against
whom disorders are directed. But the organized attempts to discredit
the civil security forces which in the present instance are without
any foundation, and the attempts to use information known to be
false, in the hopes of inducing the Administration to provide
greater individual protection and to give colour to the allegations
that the police force is disregarding its responsibilities towards
the Jewish Community, are to be discouraged by every possible means.
I should be surprised if those hundreds of Jews, mainly women and
children of the poorest classes, who sought and received protection
from the police, and who were taken to places of safety and retained
in safe custody during the l3th/l4th June, would have a word of
complaint to raise against the attitude of the Muslim police. They
certainly showed no signs of fear at being taken under their
It is all the more regrettable that the heads of the Community
should follow the pattern of Palestine Jewry of the past thirty
years by placing every obstacle in the way of those responsible for
security. One strong man with a sense of proportion and of fair
play, on the Committee, would have instilled some confidence into
the Community and could have eased the burden of those whose efforts
to maintain and sustain control of the situation were continually
being frustrated by the inconsequences of the Jewish leaders.
Commissioner of Police.
* NOTE: Retained and not enclosed as it is a long document. It
contains a mass of evidence, which can be used in rebuttal if
complaints are made at a later date.
19th June 1948
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS ON POLICE ACTION
I had not seen the Police Force "in action" as I was in Fayed on
the occasion of
the 17th February 1948. For this reason I spent a
considerable part of Saturday, 12th June, from 163O hours until
Sunday evening in the areas of the Western and Market police
There was a Tripolitania District Sports Meeting In progress at
the Stadium on Saturday afternoon, in which teams from the police
were competing. A B.I. and 12 ranks were on duty from Market
Police Station, and I and my Deputy and other officers of the Force
were interested spectators.
I left the Stadium at approximately 1630 hours, followed by my
Deputy. Police personnel were embussing at the Stadium as I left. I
proceeded direct to Western Police Station whilst my Deputy drove to
Market Police Station.
We both found, independently, that patrols and the few Station
availables at these Stations were already at the scene in Market
Police Station area and in the Old
City from Western Police Station
Sergeant No.94 was in charge of Market Police Station. He “stood
to” his Station personnel at 1610 hours and sent out the first party
prior to arrival of the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent
Police Training School.
Superintendent Tripoli, who was in his house in the Garden City,
proceeded direct to Market Police Station.
Superintendent Police Training School accompanied my Deputy
from the Stadium and proceeded at once to take charge of a police
party from Market Police Station.
B.I. in charge Market Police Station, on duty at the Stadium,
paraded all police at the Stadium by loud-speaker and was at his
post shortly after 1645 hours.
A.B.I. Armstrong arrived at Western Police Station at 1650 hours
with a party in M/T. I moved him to the
Old City exit above Bab el Djidid and followed in my car.
There was a large crowd of excited, inflamed Jewish youth held in
check by Captain Stanley and a handful of Police. A.B.I. Armstrong's
truck was backed into the entrance to prevent their exit.
The main disturbances were in the Market area outside Bab el
Djidid and in Vias Leopardi and Manzoni. Police parties i/c
Superintendent Tripoli and Superintendent P. T. S. were dealing with
these rioters and looters. The time was approximately 1700 hours.
I proceeded to Central Police Station with Major Dibdin,
Superintendent Eastern Province on weekend leave, and ordered the
P.T.S. by telephone to move to Market Police Station.
Traffic Police had been paraded at Central Police Station by B.I.
i/c, and proceeded to Market Police Station with Central Police
Station availables in M/T provided by B.I. i/c.
I then proceeded with Major Dibdin to Market Police Station, at
approximately 1745 hours. A platoon of Beds and Herts was deploying
towards the Via Dante from the Police Station.
A first floor flat in Via Leopardi was being broken into. I
ordered Major Dibdin to bring up a police party under Inspector
They went into the building with batons, where we found some 8/9
riff-raff of the lowest type bludgeoning an old man (and) a woman
whilst others were looting the rooms. There were a number of younger
persons and Children in the back rooms.
I have rarely seen Muslim police attack their brethren with such
vigour and fury in the defence of Jew. They beat them out of the
flat and in three instances threw them down the stairs into the arms
of the party waiting below to receive them.
Superintendent P.T.S. had by this time arrived in M/T and took
charge of the bodies and deposited them at Market Police Station,
where Major Dibdin and I identified them whilst Superintendent P.T.S.
I was greatly impressed too with what care the Muslim Police
handled the Jewish wounded and injured. The Via Leopardi in the
vicinity of this block of flats was filled with Jewish families from
their flats, begging to be taken to safety. The police shepherded
them into police transport as well as escorting them by foot across
to Market Police Station. Inspector Zentuti set magnificent example
and I do not think it was altogether the fact that the Commissioner
and other British Officers were in view that accounted for their
behaviour to the injured and to terrified Jewry.
The mob was composed, almost entirely of the dregs of humanity
who would as soon have killed their fellow Muslims for loot in their
state of viciousness as they would Jews.
Superintendent Tripoli, Superintendent P.T.S, and other British
officers engaged, many of them with much
Palestine service, testify to the impartial manner in which their
police carried out their duties with both courage and prudence.
Throughout the period I found the Muslim police vitally alert and
intelligently anticipating their duties and responsibilities.
have no hesitation in attributing the discipline and alertness of
the police to the example of teamwork set by Major Lay within his
command, which is the foundation of all good police work. The Libyan
Police learned to repose complete confidence in their officers, and
to realize that they will be well led and supported in their
It is worthy of note that not one single member of the Tripoli
Force reported sick. Police and recruits from
Police Training School were on short commons
from 12th to 16th June, and had to take their rest as best they
could. They made no complaints and they proceeded on their duties by
day and night washed and shaved.
of British Officers in
City is an exceptional one, and they and their rank and file deserve
well of the public whose servants they are.
Commissioner of Police
TRIPOLI, 19th JUNE 1948.
23rd June 1948
The Chief Administrator
British Military Administration
23 June 1948
I submit a report on disturbances, which took
Place in Tripoli
on 12th and 13th June, together with
appendices. Copies are being sent to War Office (CA2),
Rome Embassy, Civil Affairs Agency Cairo and the Chief
T.R. BLACKLEY, Brigadier.
Public Information Officer
ARAB-JEWISH DISTURBANCES TRIPOLI.
12th/13th JUNE 1948
1. Since the anti-Jewish riots of November 1945 Arab/Jewish
relations throughout the territory have been ostensibly harmonious
and there have been no incidents of a political or riotous nature.
Among the younger elements of the Jewish community there has been a
steady growth of Zionism, helped perhaps by the appointment from
Palestine in 1947 of Chief Rabbi yelloz, Algerian by birth but
holder of a Palestinian passport. The visit of the Four Power
Commission produced no repercussions and the apparent inter-racial
solidarity was emphasized by the tea party given by the Jewish
leaders to the Arab Liberation Committee headed by Beschir Saadawi
2. The proclamation of the state of
Israel on 15th May 1948 aroused among the
Arabs less interest then was expected and advice and pressure from
B.M.A. prevented any public display of Jewish jubilation. Prior to
this date, there had been practically no local volunteering for the
Palestine Army of Liberation. But after 15th May, despite
intensified frontier control by the French authorities, Tunisian and
Algerian volunteers began to appear in increasing numbers in
Tripoli en route for the training camps at Mersa Matruh. This gave a
stimulus to local volunteering and the Tripoli Palestine Defense
Committee were busily engaged in sending French and Libyan recruits
Eastwards. At the same time many ardent young Zionists were
departing for Italy on the first stage of their journey to Israel.
The situation was being closely watched by the police and security
officers, and there was every prospect that any clash would be
confined to the distant battlefields. On 7th June Egypt announced
she would accept no more volunteers from the West. It is estimated
that by 12th June there were from 400 to 500 Tunisians in the Old
City hoping to press on, but dreading the alternative of having to
return to French territory from whence they had clandestinely
escaped. A definite anti-Zionist atmosphere was slowly being
engendered in the Old City, as the restless volunteers roamed
aimlessly around. Their continued presence was a constant reminder
of the momentous issues elsewhere, of which the cafe and teashop
radios unceasingly blared. At the same time provocative activity
among the young Jews of Tripoli, now strongly imbued with Zionism,
was increasingly evident. The underlying causes of the disturbances
were world Muslim-Jew tension and local economic distress which has
attracted to Tripoli Town large numbers of unemployed.
Of the seventy-seven persons arrested for participating in the
disturbances only nine were residents of
3. Racial disorders are wholly unpredictable in that the smallest
incident of daily occurrence may for some unaccountable reason
provoke dissident persons or groups to murder and to riot. Such an
incident occurred in the vicinity of Via Leopardi and Corso Sicilia
at 16.05 hour on Saturday afternoon, 12th June. An Arab and a Jew
commenced to argue. Tunisians joined in, words led to blows and more
Tunisians arrived shouting "If we cannot go to Palestine
to fight Jews, let's fight than here".
Police and civilian eyewitnesses have uncontestably established
that this was the initial incident from which arose, within minutes,
the subsequent disorders. It would be easy, but it would be false,
to claim that the bulk of the consequent pillage, murder and arson
was committed by Tunisians. Before order was restored 77 Arabs and
Jews were caught in “flagrante delicto” and arrested on serious
charges. Only seven of these were Tunisians. The mobs in the main,
were composed almost entirely of the dregs of humanity, riff-raff
who would as soon have killed their fellow Muslims for loot in their
inflamed state of viciousness, as they would Jews.
Rioting broke out spontaneously and there is no evidence or
suggestion of planning or preliminary organization.
4. This cannot be said of the Jewish defence measures. They show
some evidence of preparation as a few grenades were thrown from
housetops and there were occasional shots. This, together with the
appearance of signs in Hebrew "It is good to die for one's country
(Appendix IV) are an indication that some form of defence
organization was in existence, and its role was not purely defence,
because on several occasions determined parties of young Jews
battled with the police in efforts to break out of The Old City in
order to attack Arabs. When the situation was back to normal Jewish
shopkeepers in the New City
who opened their shops were threatened by small gangs of Jewish
hooligans and forced to close again. The French Consul has reported
an air of toughness and truculence among his Jewish proteges and
officers of the Administration who experienced the 1945 riots have
noticed a hardening of moral as compared with 1945.
5. A note by Colonel A Saunders, C.M.G., O.B.E., M.C.,
Commissioner of Police, Tripolitania,
on the conduct of the police is attached as Appendix III.
From no source except the Jews themselves, has there been any
suggestion of failure to perform their duty and all complaints made
by the Jews so far have been meticulously examined and found to be
groundless. A summary of the various complaints together with their
explanation is attached as Appendix VIII.
6. Fire Brigade Appendix II gives a report of the good
work carried out by this mixed body of Italians and Arabs commanded
by an Italian. Much damage was caused to Jewish business premises
and garages where several vehicles were destroyed. A synagogue in
Via Balmi was desecrated and pillaged and an attempt was made to set
it on fire. Elsewhere at Via Gian Battista Vico No.6, a private
house in which a room was hired for use as a prayer room, was sacked
and badly damaged by fire.
7. Liaison with Military Commander. Since the 1945
disturbances the lessons learnt at that time were taken to heart and
reference to the section of this report dealing with the "Course of
Disturbances" and Appendix I, “Extracts from H.Q., B.M.A., Command
Post War Diary" will illustrate the degree of preparedness that
existed, and the close and efficient co-operation between B.M.A.,
and the military authorities. Valuable experience of Internal
Security problems was gained as a result of
the 17th February 1948 Arab demonstration, and it is to
be noted that the disturbances were confined solely to
Tripoli City. Bus and Train services were cancelled to prevent
mischief-makers carrying the trouble into the provinces.
8. Influence of Local Indigenous Authorities. The
authority of Arab and Jewish leaders and notables proved ineffective
when confronted with the impassioned violence of the mob. On Monday
a meeting of Arab and Jewish leaders was held in the house of an
Arab notable and a joint statement deploring the disturbances and
calling for peace, was issued to the press.
The meeting was organized by officers of the B.M. A., and only
their presence at it resulted in the statement being prepared and
agreed to, as the notables were more interested in bitter
recriminations, accusations and counter accusations about the past,
rather than co-operation in the present and the future.
9. The Future. The Arab/Jew problem in Middle East
countries is as old as history and will remain an acute one until
there is a Palestine settlement agreeable to both parties. The best
we can hope to attain is an alert and efficient security force of
civil police backed by military in aid of the civil power, together
with a well-established and active intelligence service. Little or
no assistance can be expected from community leaders in controlling
their lawless elements, who will seize the slightest opportunity to
pillage and to riot. Unfortunately the Jews profess no confidence in
the Libyan police force which saved the lives of so many of them and
are continually asking for the protection of British Military
Police. The only effective solution to this problem lies in the
recruitment or a neutral striking force such as was asked for and
approved in principle after the 1945 disorders.
Little or no assistance can be expected from community leaders in
controlling their lawless elements, who will seize the slightest
opportunity to pillage and to riot. Unfortunately the Jews profess
no confidence in the Libyan police force which saved the lives of so
many of them and are continually asking for the protection of
British Military Police. The only effective solution to this problem
lies in the recruitment or a neutral striking force such as was
asked for and approved in principle after the 1945 disorders.
COURSE OF DISTURBANCES
10. A large crowd of Arabs quickly gathered at the scene of the
incident in Via Leopardi (a mixed Arab/Jewish quarter) and then
proceeded towards the Jewish quarter of the old City in the
vicinities of Bab el Horria, Via Leopardi and Via Manzoni. There was
a running fight in Via Leopardi in which Jews from the Mercato
Rionale (Via Leopardi) joined. (Appendix VI is a street plan of
Tripoli). Jewish defence measures were not delayed and they promptly
manned the housetops and missiles including hand-grenades were
thrown at the advancing Arabs who were armed with sticks and stones.
That they did not enter the Old City by the New Gate was due,firstly,
to the aggressive attitude of the Jews themselves, and secondly, to
the firm and prompt action of the police. Thwarted in their advance
on the Old
City the Arabs set to looting nearby Jewish premises and assaulting
any Jew they could catch.
11. Police reaction was equally prompt, patrols and station "availables”
being quickly on the scene in response to an S.O.S. recorded at
Police Provincial Headquarters at 16.06 hours. By 17.00 hours a
police striking force from the
Police Training School under the command of a
British Major, had succeeded in clearing an area between the
clashing forces of Arabs and Jews. In doing this, they were stoned
by both opposing factions and the Jews not only threw a bomb, but a few shots were fired at
12. At this time the Chief Secretary had opened a Command Post
at Headquarters, B.M.A., and Brigadier Phayre (2 AGRA) who commanded
troops In the Tripoli Area, established at 1710 hours his command
post in the offices of S.C.A.0.
Tripoli and Western. From that moment full co-operation and liaison
existed between the Army and Civil Authorities. He at once arranged
for a platoon of the Beds and Herts to be sent to the Market Police
Station and further military dispositions that evening were as
1730 1 Coy of Beds & Herts to the Castillo and another Coy at
five minutes notice to move.
1756 1 Coy moved to Western and Market Police Stations.
1827 2 Coys moved to the Castello.
1935 1 Platoon assisted the police at the New Gate.
1955 6 Sections in Corso Sicilia.
2045 No.2 Mobile Provost Coy started patrols.
At 1735 hours the police reported they had been forced to open
fire. A Curfew from 1900 to o6oo hours on the 13th June was
announced and notices
were posted throughout the City. At 1745 hours the first case of
arson was reported and the Fire Brigade started their nightlong
fight against fires (see Appendix II).
13. Unti1 1900 hours the police were busy dealing with looters,
preventing Arabs from entering the Old City and containing Jews from
breaking out to attack the Arabs. There were no incidents in the Old
City, except the looting of Arab owned shops and premises by Jews on
the evacuation of the Arabs.
meantime at Headquarters Command Post-
A. Heads of
Departments and other hurriedly summoned officers were reporting and
being detailed for special duties.
in central and Eastern Provinces were phoned and informed of the
C. U.S.A., French and Greek Consuls were given all available
D. Local British and American businessmen were alerted and Curfew
passes were prepared for issue to previously selected personnel.
Chief Administrator held a conference with the District Commander
and the Chief Secretary and Sitrep No.1 was issued at 18.15 hrs.
details of all Command Post activities can be obtained from the
Headquarters Command Post War Diary at Appendix I).
15. Curfew was enforced at 19.00 hours onwards, and the police
had to contend with many small mobs in the "triang1e” formed by the
Stadium (as apex), the Via Dante, Gorse Sicilia and Sciara Sidi
Omran (base), who now were making their way to their homes in the
Dahra quarter, Feshlum and Sharia Sidi Khalifa areas, causing some
damage by looting and arson to Jewish shops, stores and garages on
their homeward routes. By 20.00 the situation, except for fires, was
under complete police control.
Mobile Military Patrols circulated in the main streets
surrounding the troubled areas.
16. At Headquarters and Provincial Command Posts liaison
Officers from the Garrison were on duty with senior Administration
officers all night. The following action was taken: -
A. Contact maintained with Provincial S.C.A.Os.
Sitrep No.2 issued at 22.30 hrs by the Chief Administrator.
C. Curfew notices
issued to the Italian and Arabic Press.
D. All bus services due
to leave Tripoli for the
Provinces cancelled for Sunday but arrangements made for delivery to
the Provinces of the Sunday newspapers.
E. Leaders of the Italian community visited by the Deputy Chief
At 2400 hrs forty-six persons were under arrest on serious
charges and the casualty roll was: -
In addition an unknown number of Jews and Arabs were treated but
not detained in hospital.
17. Sunday 13th June. By 06.30 hrs Jews were
again manning the rooftops of the old City and half-an-hour later
police dispersed two mobs of Arabs each approximately forty strong,
when they gathered in the Suk el Talat, but, by 07.50 hours Jews and
Arabs were clashing in the Via Leopardi- Via Manzoni area. By 07.50
hrs the police had separated the opposing parties and a hand grenade
had been thrown from a Jewish housetop against a police truck, but
fortunately bounced off and burst harmlessly on open ground. In Via
Leopardi a large Arab crowd was stoning Jewish premises and the
police were forced to open fire.
18. At 08.15 hours Emergency Proclamation No.175 was signed and
at the request of S.C.A.0,
Tripoli Province and with the approval of the Chief Administrator,
Brigadier Phayre assumed responsibility for restoring order in
Tripoli Town. A Curfew from 12.00 hours on 13th June to 06.00 hours
on 14th June was announced, and military forces moved in on the
troubled areas being fully deployed by 10.00 hours. The troops
consisted of the following: -
2 Coys Beds & Herts.
1 Composite Coy, Guards.
1 Coy from S/T Batteries 12 A/T Regiment.
3 Platoons 1 Inf. Div. Signals Regiment.
1 Composite Coy, 73 AAA/12A/T Regiment.
By 11.30 hours the situation was completely under military
control, but shortly after Curfew hour police mobile patrols in the
New City shot and arrested two different
small gangs of looters caught in the act. The rest of the day
passed without incident and at 17.25 hours a party of 113 Tunisians
was embussed and sent to Benghazi
with a police truck as escort.
The remainder of the Tunisians was under police guard in a
compound on the fringe of the old City.
19. Headquarters Command Post remained manned and emergency
administrative measures were taken throughout the day as can be seen
from Appendix I. Tripoli newspapers are not normally published on
Monday but orders were given for a special edition carrying news of
the Curfew for the l4th/l5th June, which included a special Curfew
from 12.00 to 14.00 hours on the 14th June for the area North of
Corso Sicilia from the Castello to the Municipal boundary at
Gargarese. At a Military Command Conference at 19.00 hours security
Town was delegated to the police from dusk to dawn, whilst the
troops became responsible for the affected area within the
“triangle”. During the night the police escorted bread to 800 Jews
taking refuge in a synagogue, and also escorted Jewish gravediggers
to the burial of the Jewish dead.
20. Monday 14th June.
Mobile police and military patrols in strength operated as from
0.600 hours and the troops remained deployed. The atmosphere was
tense in the Old City and the Jewish Hara, but there were no
incidents. During the restricted Curfew, two Arabs and a Jew were
shot during a sweep of the area by military forces. This had a
salutary effect on the population and particularly impressed the
Italian Community. A further 120 Tunisians were sent towards
Benghazi, but following receipt of a signal from C.A.B. the
remaining 270 were embussed and sent under a strong military escort
to Zavia at 19.15 hours en route for Tunisia. On being searched in
Zavia, three were found to be suffering from gunshot wounds and were
transferred under police guard to hospital. At 08.30 hours on Monday
morning B.M.A. officers were present at a meeting of Jewish and Arab
notables. A statement deploring the disturbances was issued to the
Press but the spirit and atmosphere of the conference was far from
There were no further incidents that night and at midnight the total number of
arrests were as follows: -
Possession of Arms
15th June. There is nothing of interest to report.
The troops remained deployed but no curfew was imposed.
16th June. S.C.A.O. Tripoli resumed authority from
the Military commander at 08.15 hrs. Gangs of Jewish youths were
threatening Jewish businessmen who opened their shops or cafes in
new City and forcing them to close again. A
platoon stood by in the castello and mobile patrols provided by the
Military Police continued to operate in liaison with the Civil
Police and will do so until further notice.
A leading member of the Jewish Community spoke to the gangs of young
Jews and persuaded the Businessmen to open their shops.
Over 50 per cent of the shops opened.
Friday 18th June. Practically
all shops opened.
Saturday 19th June. Jewish
Sunday 20th June. All shops
British Military Administration,
21st June 1948.
War Office (CA2)
Civil Affairs Agency, Cairo
Chief Administration Benghazi
END OF 1st PART.
2nd Part to follow.
Click the image below to
view Arabic version in Al-Hayt newspaper
An open letter to
the leader of the
in the United
in response to the speech given at the Coptic International
Washington D.C, on 16-19 November 2005.
Jews of Libya
Mohamed Ben-Ghalbon Al-Hayat - 09/01/06
Dear Raphael Lozon,
Your above mentioned speech expressed the longing of a Libyan for
his country and a natural yearning for home that can be understood
by all who have experienced the suffering of being away from home
and the consequences of forced exile.
We in the Libyan Constitutional Union (LCU) dearly hope that your
mother's wish to visit her birthplace Benghazi is realised soon. We
also support your right to receive the remains of relatives who were
lost during the security disturbances which engulfed many Libyan
towns, and which appeared to be a spontaneous public response to the
6-day war in 1967. We also support your wish to have the remains
taken to their final resting places in the appropriate manner.
Head of Libyan Jewish
Libya’s Prime Minister (June
We have previously expressed our views in this paper regarding what
happened to your community in 1967, long before the case began to be
publicly discussed and became one of America's conditions for the
rehabilitation of the current Libyan regime and for prolonging its
lease to reign. (a copy of an article published on 9th March 1995
may be seen in the pages allocated to this case on the LCU archive
We expressed our views again in an open letter to you, dated 10th
June 2005, which was published in many Libyan internet sites, and
therefore there is no need to reiterate these views here. We
continue to share your sorrow and pain and fully understand your
However, you were not completely accurate in your speech when you
compared your situation with that of the Palestinian's and equated
your ordeal with theirs. You were also far from accurate when you
described the Israeli-Arab struggle as a conflict between a
democracy and a dictatorship. I do not wish to elaborate further on
this particular matter because I wish to focus our dialogue on the
Libyan case in the hope that we succeed in building stronger
friendly links based on truth and good intentions to bridge the
regrettable sad gap that clearly exists between us.
In the above mentioned speech, you stated that in 1967 a decision
was made to expel the Jewish community from Libya and that they were
allowed only one small suit case and twenty pounds per person. Here
I do feel that it is in the benefit of all concerned that this
information is made accurate.
Travelling with this meagre amount of money was in accordance with
the then existing currency regulations which prevented any Libyan
national from taking abroad more than 20 pounds in cash. The
regulation was not applied specifically or only to the Libyan Jews.
It was possible to transfer any amount in accordance with the
currency regulations of the bank of Libya in the form of traveller's
cheques, bank credits or bank guarantees.
With regard to the decision to leave Libya hurriedly, it was a
decision taken by the leaders of the Jewish community and was not an
order of expulsion by the Libyan government. The Jewish historian,
Renzo De Felice, published a book in 1978 entitled "epri in un paese
Arabo", which was dedicated to this matter. On page 278 of the
English translation of the book, he wrote: "The First official step
was taken by Lillo Arbib on 17th June. He sent a message to Prime
Minister Hussein Mazegh asking him to allow Jews so desiring to
leave the country for a time, until tempers cool and the Libyan
population understands the position of Libyan Jews, who have always
been and will continue to be loyal to the State, in full harmony and
peaceful coexistence with the Arab citizens at all times." The
Government quickly agreed: the emigration office started work on
June 20 preparing the documents necessary for departure."
In order to enable Al-Hayat readers to follow this dialogue, I wish
to introduce a brief account of some relevant aspects of the case of
Libya's Jewish community:
According to Jewish sources a community of about 40,000 Jews lived
in Libya during the period prior to 1948. Only some were routed in
Libyan society since before the Islamic era, others migrated to
Libya from the neighbouring countries of North Africa, while others
were refugees from Andalusia who fled the Spanish Inquisition. The
community lived in peace and dignity among the rest of the Moslem
communities of the Libyan society, until the Zionist movement crept
into its fabric and preached the idea of migration to the "Promised
Land" to colonise and establish a Jewish state. This prompted the
attitude of the young towards contempt and defiance against the
society - a behaviour against the interests of any minority in a
Herzl’s Young Zionist Group of Benghazi
The first clash, Libya witnessed in all its history, between Jews
and Moslems was on 3rd November, 1945 when a wave of strikes spread
in many Arab countries marking the anniversary of the Balfour
Declaration. The clashes were repeated in 1948 as a reaction to the
bloody news from Palestine. According to official British
Government documents the Libyan Moslem uprisings were spontaneous
and without pre-planning, sticks and stones were used. Whereas, the
documents recorded, the Libyan Jewish uprising was premeditated and
guns and ammunition were employed. This testimony is from an
independent and responsible party - The British Government when it
ruled Libya at the time during the UN mandate. A party that may not
be accused of being biased to Moslems or indeed of being anti
We have previously written on the subject in Al-Hayat and included
the said British Government official papers in a three-part
documentary series (21-23 September 1997). A copy of the series may
be found through this link:
Following the 1948 clashes, the British authorities in Libya
"encouraged" the Libyan Jews to migrate to Israel after selling off
properties and taking their few possessions with them. Libya at
that time was more or less devoid of resources and all citizens
suffered from severe poverty, illiteracy and diseases resulting from
decades of Italian colonisation and the war between the Allies and
Axis (Second World War) which was fought on its land.
Despite these hardships and a lack of any sign of recovery in the
foreseeable future, about 7000 Jews were not influenced by the
Zionist calls nor by The British "encouragement" and chose to remain
in Libya. The stand shown by that section of the Libyan Jews at
that time requires no rhetoric or further emphasis of loyalty or
true belonging to their Libya.
The surprise came with the discovery of oil in the country after
independence. Prosperity and wealth spread among all sections of
the society. With that momentous change came suspicious interests
in Libya by the International Zionist Organisations, wickedly
employing the existence of the small Jewish minority in Libya. At
the front of these organisations and most active in the sudden
dubious interest was the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the
president of which (Mr Louis Caplan) visited Libya in the summer of
1961. Following that visit the Jewish community leaders (Lillo
Arbib, Hai Glam, Clemente Habib, Angelo Nahum, and Pinhas R.Naim)
submitted a written complaint to the Libyan Prime Minister (Mr
Mohammed Othman Assaid) demanding a list of rights for the Jewish
community in the country. The International Organisations succeeded
to convince the former UN envoy to Libya, Mr Adrian Pelt, to carry
out a discrete investigation about the affairs of the Libyan Jews
during his visit for the 10th anniversary of Libya's independence.
His report, published on page 230 of Renzo De Felice's book, was
disappointing to the organisations. "The former U.N commissioner
wrote that anti-Semitism, in the sense in which it is understood in
the west, did not exist [in Libya], but that there was strong
feeling against Israel ((....)). In the field of personal relations
there was not much animosity against Jews. ((....)) Arabs and Jews
would meet privately...((...))". However, in spite of that, the
Zionist international organisations continued to subject the newly
born Libyan state to sustained pressure, intimidation and
embarrassment portraying it internationally as an anti-Semitic
country (as De Felice recorded). The sustained pressure forced the
Libyan government to ask the leaders of its Jewish community to
issue a statement to the UN contradicting the accusations of
anti-Semitism. This request of assistance was refused.
King Idris Receives a
Delegation of Libya’s Jewish Community
on Independence Day (1951)
In order to add additional useful material to this important
dialogue, we believe that it is helpful to make reference to an
interesting letter dated 15th October 1964 from Canada's Secretary
of State for External Affairs to the British Ambassador in Tripoli.
In this letter, the Canadian official requested specific information
about the Libyan Jewish community following allegations by Canadian
Jewish Organisations that Libyan Jews were being persecuted. The
British Ambassador in Tripoli, Mr. Rod Sarell, replied on 28th
November, 1964. The following are short extracts from his letter
(kept in the British National Archives, file No: FO371/178894,
Document No. VT 1571/2).
"I have the honour to refer to your letter of October 15, 1964,
concerning the position of the Jewish Community in Libya.
There are probably between 6,500 and 7,000 Jews in Libya, the
majority of whom are resident in Tripoli. With the exception of a
few manual workers, usually engaged in carpentry or the ritual
preparation of Jewish food and wine, their means of livelihood are
mainly commercial. They are merchants, commission agents, or shop
keepers. At present it is probably true to say that they are
experiencing, in common with Libya as a whole, prosperity
unparalleled in the long history of the community.
There is no official discrimination against the Jews but the tension
between the Arab States and Israel results from time to time in
attacks in local press, which allege that some members of the
community are agents of Zionism. This has on occasions resulted in
local disorders, of whatever origin, taking on an anti-Jewish bias.
((....)) It is only fair to say however, that a very large part of
local business is in Jewish hands including many of the most
valuable British agencies. ((….)).
For this reason and because the Jews here are essentially a
Mediterranean people, whose history can be traced back to Roman
times, it is unlikely that any significant number would wish to
emigrate to Canada unless under extreme duress ((....)). In fact
about 300 are entitled to British passports facilities mostly on the
basis of ancestors born in Gibralter in the 18th and 19th
Centuries. The latter class of Jews are, of course, eligible to
apply for permits to emigrate to Canada under existing regulations.
It is perhaps indicative of the attitude to migration that the only
recent application in this category dealt with by the Consular
Section of the Embassy, that of the Habib family - which is the
subject of your letter of 30 August 1963 - resulted in one member of
the family leaving for Canada although the others were eligible to
The question that forces itself here is: How and why the Jewish
leaders in Libya took the decision on behalf of their community to
leave the country in 1967? A choice which members of this small
community refused to make in 1948 at a time of extreme poverty and
hardships, with the lure of the Zionist movement on one hand and by
the British "encouragement" on the other. Furthermore, the bloody
clashes of 1948 were more serious than what they were subjected to
in the riots of June 1967. How and why the leaders took the
decision while the Jewish Libyan community were among the earliest
to become wealthy from the returns of oil? It was clearly obvious
to all that the economic improvements were only the beginnings of
greater fortunes. Here we wish to introduce a testimony by Renzo De
Felice about the state of affairs of the Jewish community in Libya
during that period. On page 269 of the English translation of "epri
in un paese Arabo", De Felice states: "Over less than six years
[after discovery of oil in the country], the Jewish community's
economic situation went from the "disastrous" condition of 1957 to
one in which half of its members might be described as "well off";
there were cases for being "very wealthy" ((...))".
In the answers to these questions there is concealed the secret
behind the 1969 Libyan Coup d' Etat and an explanation of its
eccentric behaviour; factors that have baffled all for more than
three decades. In order to systematically introduce possible
answers, one should include a relevant series of historical facts
with direct links to this convoluted case. In the beginning of the
20th century, the Jewish international organisations were divided in
their selection of a national homeland for Jews. While there was a
section among them not prepared to accept anything less than
Jerusalem and mount Zion, there was another equally significant
section who were cautious of this choice, believing that it was an
impossible dream to realise. They sought alternative destinations
easier to colonise and convince the world by historical rights to
the claim, where resistance would be minimal as well as being far
from the religious hotspots of conflict. The choice of the latter
party, after several expeditions and relevant research, settled on
Libya to be the dream national homeland for the Jews. The idea was
put forward by the British Jewish traveller, Sir Harry Johnston, who
introduced it to Mr Israel Zangwill, Head of the Jewish Territorial
Organisation in London. The organisation sent a scientific
expedition to Libya in 1906 led by Mr Nahoum Sloush, a professor at
the Sorbonne, which was followed by another in 1908. The reports of
both expeditions were very encouraging to the extent that Mr
Zangwill stated that Cyrenaica (a province in the east of Libya),
rivals Palestine itself in becoming a Jewish national homeland. For
more details about this subject and the reasons behind the choice of
Libya as a Jewish homeland, one may consult the documentary book by
Mr M. Bayou, published in March 1975 entitled: "The Zionist Project
to Inhabit Libya". In addition, Al-Hayat published a brief account
of the subject on 20th September 1997: Jewish Emigration to
Palestine and the Story of the Alternative Homeland:
The Jewish International Organisations approached the Ottoman Empire
with their intentions. The Ottoman Empire agreed to the requests
but offered only the area of Sirt and its surroundings as a
destination (an area on the Western Libya coast which had been a
refuge for the Jews of Cyrenaica following their revolt against the
Roman Empire in year 115 AD). In addition, the Ottomans made it a
condition that only the Jews from Ottoman territories would be
allowed to migrate into the allocated areas. However, the Zionist
organisations were insisting on being given all of Cyrenaica, and
planned to relocate large numbers from Ottoman territories to
outnumber the local inhabitants, which was small at the time (the
inhabitants of all of Libya totalled less than 1 million). The
intention was to create a new geographical reality on the ground
that would be difficult to dispute, and then continue to open the
doors for the Jews of Europe and Russia to flood into the new
occupied areas. They (the Jewish international organisations)
offered much needed financial and political facilities to the
Sultanate which softened its position regarding the choice of
Cyrenaica. The negotiations were going speedily in favour of the
Jewish interests, when the coup of 1908 against the Sultan took
place in Turkey. The new rulers (in Istanbul) would no doubt have
gone on to grant all of the Jewish desires without conditions,
however, the swift move by Italy to invade Libya in 1911 put an end
to that dream and united the focus on Palestine.
Libyan Prime Minister Mahmud
Muntasir Receives B. Duvdevani,
Representative of the Jewish
We in the Libyan Constitutional Union are certain that the
self-confidence of the Zionist movement after accomplishing the
dream of fully colonising Palestine, achieving significant influence
over the international public opinion and securing supremacy on the
Arabs in every field, coupled with the discovery of vast reserves of
oil re-kindled the dream to exploit Libya. This explains the
conspiratorial and suspicious interests in Libya by the Zionist
organisations immediately after the discovery of oil and the
sustained campaigns to embarrass and portray the Kingdom as an
anti-Semitic country. It is quite clear that the organisations
succeeded in attracting the loyalty of some leaders of the Libyan
Jewish community as evidenced by their refusal to support the
government with a testimony to the UN (when the government faced
persisting false accusations of anti-Semitism). Here I am not
accusing the Libyan Jewish community of conspiracy or treason, their
loyalty to Libya was demonstrated in making the difficult choice in
1948 as mentioned above, but pointing the finger at some of its
We are seriously concerned that the influence of the Jewish
organisations inside the American institutions responsible for the
Middle Eastern policies were employed to materialise the Zionist
desires to control Libya politically and exploit it economically as
soon as the Palestinian case reaches a solution and the two sides
arrive at some sort of accord that satisfies the Arabs and forces
peace between them and the Israelis. Thus came the Libyan coup
d'Etat of 1969. A first step to prepare, with its extraordinarily
narrow vision, the required environment for realising the scheme.
The coup ruined the infrastructure of the country, spread anarchy
and confusion in the nation and tarnished the reputation of the
country until it was expelled from the international community and
lost the respect and sympathy of all.
With a deep American sense of history and realisation that political
secrets are only temporary, and with a full commitment to the
reputation of America, these institutions planned that when the
conspiracy is eventually exposed, it would appear to be an angry,
vengeful reaction against a savage nation that ravaged a God-fearing
minority. An act against every human standard and against the basic
rules of the Islamic faith itself -expelling a minority from their
own country, allowing each one only "a small brief case and twenty
pounds". This (the plot) would appear to be a justifiable angry
response and would result in few prepared to condemn it in defence
of a country who's coup lost it its respect, credibility and every
friendship of note. Neither would there be defence for the
interests of a nation now retarded several centuries in every
civilised field by the peculiar practices of the coup.
For history not to record that America conspired against a friendly
nation and a loyal government, your community, Mr Lozon was
manipulated and sacrificed to create that cover and to punish you
for preferring Libya in 1948. Furthermore, your community is to be
used for the return to Libya in a planned fashion as an organised,
trained and united community with many of its members brainwashed
and a new generation brought up with first loyalty to Israel. You
have been convinced, as we are, that you were innocent victims.
However, this is an undisputed fact, exploited to achieve an evil.
Returning your community to a society in the grips of anarchy,
ignorance and deep confusion will inevitably make you a leading
elite minority in the society enjoying international respect and
sympathy. The outside world would no doubt choose to with the
country through you on political and economic affairs. The coup
apparatus, once forced to realise that its existence and
continuation are directly linked to the satisfaction of the elite
minority, will endeavour to protect and serve it. Additional
analysis related to this subject may be found in an article entitled
"Gaddafi and the abandoned constitution":
Relationships can only be established and sustained on the basis of
the fairness and righteousness that the heavens and earth were
created upon. Therefore, Dear Rapahel, I hope that your community
joins us in demanding an international inquiry into the case to
unveil its mystery before final decisions are made. Perhaps the
inquiry will unveil the most sordid conspiracy of the last century
and save your community from being a Zionist tool (and enable you to
realise the real reasons behind your exile) and participate in
saving Libya's independence without jeopardising your right to an
honourable return home.
Chairman Libyan Constitutional Union
1. English Translation of: (Jews in an Arab Land: Libya, 1835-1970.
Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985) by the Jewish historian,
Renzo De Felice.
2. The British National Archives
3. Mustafa Bayou's book: "The Zionist Project to Inhabit Libya",
published in March 1975.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Corrections to some of the information contained in the article by
Mr. Raphael Luzon regarding the murder of members of his family in
Translation from Arabic
I read the article
by Mr. Raphael Luzon, chairman of “Jews of Libya - UK” which was
posted on 1st January 2007 on the Libyan web site “Akhbar
Libya” under the title “What law and what jurisprudence would allow
the annihilation of an entire Libyan Jewish family?”.
I noted that in this
article he inserted the name of a Libyan army officer accused of
killing members of his family in 1967. To my knowledge, this is the
first time the identity of this officer was publicly added to the
recently opened file of the Libyan Jews.
In the interest of
serving the general Libyan national interests, I take this
opportunity to add to this open file my own findings which I
obtained and verified from responsible and highly positioned sources
during my investigation of this particular issue in the mid nineties
of the past century. Those facts led me to conclude that the
government of P.M. Abdul-Qadir Al-Badri, (which succeeded that of
P.M. Hussein Maziq in the aftermath of the June 1967 events), was
serious in following up the said episode to establish the facts so
that justice could be served.
This was evident by
the government’s request to the high command of the Libyan army to
hold an inquest into the murder charges in question so that it could
take the appropriate measures according to its findings.
comprising a number of high ranking officers of the Libyan army was
in fact formed to look into the matter. The accused (named in the
article), Mustafa Al-Greetly actually appeared before this
committee. He admitted the charges from the outset and without any
hesitation. He declared that he acted on his own initiative, and
that he gave the orders to his soldiers to shoot the family without
orders from his superiors, with no coordination with anybody from
within or outside the army. He boasted that he was motivated by his
Pan-Arabism and Nasserite sentiments and beliefs.
verified the accused’s admission through its own means and passed –
with narrow mindedness, short sightedness and a total betrayal of
trust – its report to the Prime Minister denying the incident ever
took place. That false report misled the government and prompted it
to close all doors of debate with the international bodies which
were pressing it to take the appropriate humanitarian stand and the
necessary legal action.
I also learnt –from
the aforesaid sources - that the motives of that committee to
mislead the government in this case were the same motives that
stopped leading officers in the Libyan Army from arresting Gaddafi’s
young army officers when they were plotting their coup d'état, even
though they had full recordings of their secret meetings and plans
from the military intelligence agency which had them all under
surveillance. Those motives were “preserving the good name of the
army”!!! In the first incident they misled the government, while
the second resulted in the fall of the throne.
I will continue -
for the time being - to withhold the identity of my sources for
security considerations that are clear to all.
I finally wish to
put this question to Mr. Luzon and to the readers in general:
curious that the perpetrator of this criminal act was none other
than the grandson of Ramadan Bey?”
This is in-spite of
the fact that the Libyan Army was at that time crowded with officers
who were affiliated with Pan-Arabist parties, as well as those who
adored Gamal Abdul-Nasser.
In this I find
further support to my analysis to those events which I expanded on
in a long article published by the London based daily “Al-Hayat” on
9th January 2006.
Mohamed Ben Ghalbon
Libyan Constitutional Union
18 February 2007
Ramadan Bey was the known name of Ramadan Al-Greetly in the city of
Benghazi. He was one of the most prominent official collaborators
with the Italian occupying authority in the Cyrenaica province. As
a result of being a trusted link between the occupying force and the
local citizens Ramadan Bey had offered mighty services to many
Cyrenaican personalities and families who had been the subject of
suspicion from the brutal colonial power in the country. Many were
indebted to him for saving their necks from the noose of Italian
gallows. No doubt he offered more significant services to his
foreign employers. This was evident by him and all members of his
family being granted Italian nationality and departing with them to
Italy when the remnants of the Italian army were forced to flee the
country in the early forties. Some of them opted to return to Libya
after it gained independence benefiting from King Idris’s
compassionate decision not to open old files or dwell upon the
past. They chose to live in the city of Tripoli were their past and
its consequences were not known. Some of them still live in Italy,
which, since their family’s departure with the defeated Italian
armies has become their home; while others travel between Italy and
the Head of the Libyan Jewish Community
the United Kingdom
“The Right of Return”
it a right only to Libya’s Jews, or does it include the
19 March 2007
I have previously
expressed, on several occasions, my deep sorrow for what had
befallen you in 1967 and its agonising consequences over the past 40
years  & . It is a feeling shared by all conscientious
people in the Libyan society.
In the past, I was always
careful that our dialogue did not expand to include the Palestinian
issue. I deliberately tried to focus solely on the Libyan issue in
the hope that we would be able to build a bridge of understanding
and mutual confidence that would help us cross the divide that has
existed between us for all these long years .
My abstention from
discussing the Palestinian issue was not out of negligence or lack
of concern, for we have obligations towards our Palestinian brothers
too. The injustices which have befallen them – and still do –
including killings, forced exile, confiscation of their lands and
property and total violation of their human rights, are of
unimaginable magnitude. Any fair or conscientious human being can
not overlook or sidestep their plight.
Now that we have bridged the gap between us, we
would like to know your views, as well as those of the Libyan Jewish
community at large, regarding the right of the Palestinian refugees
to return to their confiscated homes. The Palestinian right of
return is so fundamental it is recognised by a United Nations
resolution that consecutive Israeli governments refuse to implement
or to even entertain the principle of discussing.
What cannot be overlooked
is that your tragic ordeal is distinctly linked to that of the
Palestinian people. It would not be fair to expect sympathy for
your demands from the Libyan people without recognising the similar
rights of the Palestinian people. This is by no means a stipulation
of your rights, rather a quest for a balanced moral stand prompted
by the principles of fairness and even-handedness.
Would we see from you a
just stance equal to that which you expect from your Libyan
Mohamed Ben Ghalbon
Chairman of the Libyan
Manchester - UK
 “And the Jews of
Libya”, “Al-Hayat” Newspaper, 9 March 1995:
 An open letter
posted on 28 May 2005:
Newspaper, 9 January 2006: