The unaddressed questions (from November, 1973) of Albert Memmi still address the unworthiness of Libya
The most predictable outcome of Libya’s violent internecine struggle-cum-latest-Arab- “democracy movement” was aptly characterized by Andrew McCarthy: “The Libyan people are no more our ally than Qaddafi.”
McCarthy expanded upon these views with refreshingly singular honesty:
[I]t had been the swift military rout of Saddam Hussein that induced Qaddafi to renounce (or claim to renounce) his ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction in late 2003. But once the hard-power promise of the Bush Doctrine gave way to the belief that thugs could be democratized into submission, the wily old terrorist found a system he could game. And game it he did. I didn’t buy the remaking of Qaddafi then, and I don’t buy the remaking of Libya now. That puts me among a breed that, if news accounts are to be believed, is increasingly rare: I don’t care about the Libyan people — I’m sorry, I mean the “brave Libyan freedom fighters.”
Beleaguered, bizarre, and brutal Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffi defiantly insisted during a delusional Monday 2/28/11 interview with ABC, BBC, and The Times of London that he remains beloved by his people.
They all love me, all my people [are] with me. They will die to protect me.
The bloody despot Qaddafi’s most recent counterfactual pronouncement echoes in its wicked lunacy his November 1973 statements about another “beloved” audience of his—so-called “Arab Jews”—inviting them to return to their former Libyan and other Middle Eastern Islamic homelands. Moreover, the seething Jew-hatred now openly expressed by the protesting “brave Libyan freedom fighters”— directed in the absence of the liquidated Jewish community of Libya at Qadaffi himself—justifies, or certainly it should, McCarthy’s lack of concern for the anti-Qaddafi Libyans.
Before describing Qadaffi’s November 1973 “proposal”—highlighted by a surreal “press conference”—an historical overview of the plight of Libyan Jewry under Islam is in order.
Mordechai Hakohen (1856-1929) was a Libyan Talmudic scholar and auto-didact anthropologist who composed an ethnographic study of North African Jewry in the early 20th century. Hakohen summarizes the overall impact on the Jews of the Muslim jihad conquest and rule of North Africa, including Libya, as follows:
They [also] pressed the Jews to enter the covenant of the Muslim religion. Many Jews bravely chose death. Some of them accepted under the threat of force, but only outwardly…Others left the region, abandoning their wealth and property and scattering to the ends of the earth. Many stood by their faith, but bore an iron yoke on their necks. They lowered themselves to the dust before the Muslims, lords of the land, and accepted a life of woe—carrying no weapons, never mounting an animal in the presence of a Muslim, not wearing a red headdress, and following other laws that signaled their degradation.
Hakohen’s study (pp.74,76) includes this mid-19th century description of the Jews fate as Berber Muslim chattel slaves in the Atlas Mountains of Libya:
The Berber [Muslim] Lord passed his Hebrew slave down to his children as an inheritance. If the Berber lord had many sons, each inherited a share in the slave. Each could also sell his share in the slave…if the Hebrew slave met his obligation in giving homage to his lord and was able to acquire money, he could redeem himself by paying a sum agreeable to both parties. With this deed he could acquire a deed of manumission for that portion of the rights held by the seller.…[T]o this very day ..there is no Israelite family without an Ishmaelite master to whom the Israelite must make a token payment every year. The Ishmaelite may sell him to another, and this arrangement persisted until only six or seven years ago.
Nahum Slouzschz (1871-1966), a scholar, writer, archeologist, historian and translator, travelled amongst the Jews of North Africa from 1905 to 1916, including a trek through the remote Atlas mountain region, collecting information on their lives and customs. Below are excerpts from two of Slouzschz’s accounts regarding Libyan Jews published in 1906 (p. 660) and 1908 (pp. 660-61).
Jews, Berbers, and Arabs (Libya, 1906)
Until the middle of the last century, the Jews were treated as the serfs of the Berber lords. While abolishing this humiliating institution, Turkey has not yet had the time of curb the moral vexations that the Muslims inflict on their Jewish neighbors. One example out of a hundred: the rabbi of the region [Djebel Nefussi], having journeyed to Nalut, was attacked by local inhabitants who ordered him to get down from his mule, since a Jew may not straddle a mount in the presence of Muslims. Should he dare to complain, he would run the risk of seeing his family massacred by the Arabs.