August 24, 2011 | 3:23 pm
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
The 270 victims of Pan Am Flight 103 can rest easier now that their murderer has been toppled from power. And even as the world searches for Gadhafi’s whereabouts, a day of reckoning must arrive for all the Westerners who supported him and kept him in power.
For decades, the world tolerated the crazed and bloodthirsty Libyan leader for one reason: He had oil. And scores of people were prepared to sell their souls for money. The most egregious violators were the British. Prime Minister David Cameron and Labor leader Ed Miliband are late to the table in pointing out Britain’s loss of morals, evidenced, they say, by the recent News of the World tabloid scandal and the riots that had London burning. In truth, the greatest evidence of the UK’s moral bankruptcy was the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man Scottish authorities assured us was at death’s door but who ironically might outlive Gadhafi himself. Not only must he now be recaptured and brought back to rot in jail, but all the documents detailing the secret deals that were done for his release must also see the light of day so we can know whether the sacred memory of 270 innocent victims was sold so that British oil companies like BP could benefit. We also need to know which British officials negotiated his release. Cameron himself condemned “the appalling dodgy dealings with Libya under the last [British] government.”
Which bring us to Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, who the Daily Mail says reportedly went to Libya “on behalf of J.P. Morgan, an American bank which pays him a mere £2 million a year, and which has been keen to develop banking opportunities in the country.” Will Blair and JPMorgan Chase clarify exactly what transpired between them and Gadhafi?
The Daily Mail also reported that the London School of Economics awarded Saif Gadhafi a doctorate even though there are suggestions, which the school is now investigating, that Saif cheated when submitting his thesis. Could the degree have had anything to do with the £1.5 million gift the school accepted from Gadhafi’s son after his graduation, though only £300,000 has been paid thus far?
In our own town of Englewood, N.J., where the Libyans own an official residence immediately next door to me and which has been tax-exempt for nearly three decades, millions were spent to ready the derelict embassy for Gadhafi’s use in the summer and autumn of 2009. Were permits granted too readily, allowing the construction to proceed at such a hasty pace? I have a video of the time I confronted the contractors working on Gadhafi’s home, after they cut down my trees and removed my fence. City official Peter Abballe, who was in charge of Englewood’s Department of Building and Code Enforcement and was responsible for enforcing the construction code and inspecting residential and commercial properties and issuing certificates of occupancy, was present in the contractor’s trailer inside the Libyan compound. He intervened and said the camera should be turned off. The same official was later arrested on charges of official corruption, having accepted payments in another case, and was recently sentenced. Did anything untoward happen when the same official worked with the Libyans, and was anyone else involved?
It would also be nice if our Congressman from New Jersey’s 9th District, Democrat Steve Rothman, who originally joined us in strongly opposing Gadhafi’s stay in Englewood, would apologize for the public advice he gave to me and the other neighbors of the Libyan residence, including the Jewish day school Moriah, when he told the press after my objections to Gadhafi’s U.N. ambassador moving into the residence, “I hope everyone will be appropriately good neighbors.” Advocating friendly, neighborly relations with the representative of a murderous, terror-sponsoring regime is surely advice the Congressman regrets and should publicly recant.
Speaking of Gadhafi’s former ambassador, Mohamed Shalgham, my next-door neighbor, after serving for eighth years as Gadhafi’s foreign minister and then as his ambassador, he did an about-face when Gadhafi seemed doomed and denounced him at the U. N. Security Council. But if Shalgham is sincere in his renunciation, what is he doing sitting on millions of dollars of New Jersey real estate when the compound presumably should be sold and the money given to the new government, which will need every penny to rebuild after the damage of a devastating civil war?
And what of Natural Selection, the Los Angeles-based film production fund founded by Matty Beckerman that accepted a $100 million investment from Gadhafi’s son Al-Saadi Gadhafi. In February of this year, Bloomberg News reported that that money was being used to bankroll a film called “The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,” starring Mickey Rourke, and that the fund was also backing “Isolation,” a thriller with Susan Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amurri. Will we all be entertained with this blood money or will it be returned to the Libyan people?
And then there is Louis Farrakhan, the obsessively anti-Semitic head of Nation of Islam who condemned the United States last March for taking military action against Gadhafi and defended the murderer of the Libyan people. At a press conference in Chicago, he said, “It is a terrible thing for me to hear my brother called all these ugly and filthy names when I can’t recognize him as that. Even though the current tide is moving against him ... how can I refuse to raise my voice in his defense? Why would I back down from those who have given so much?”
In September 2009, while I spoke outside the U.N. at a Libyan dissident rally attacking Gadhafi while the gave his rambling address to the U.N. General Assembly, which included the allegation that the Israelis were involved in the murder of President John F. Kennedy, we were all but drowned out by hundreds of Nation of Islam followers who were bused in to support Gadhafi. Will the Nation pay any price for supporting a tyrant and a murderer or will we who are responsible for the memory of the Lockerbie victims and the U.S. servicemen whom Gadhafi killed be silent as his friends now go mum?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who served for 11 years as rabbi at Oxford University, is founder of This World: The Values Network and will shortly publish “Ten Conversations You Need to Have With Yourself” as well as “Kosher Jesus.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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