October 10, 2011
Libyan Jewish exile to leave country
A Libyan Jewish exile attempting to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue will leave the country following angry protests.
David Gerbi, who arrived in Libya from Italy this summer when Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi was ousted in a rebellion, agreed Sunday to return to Rome on a military transport scheduled to leave Tuesday, according to The Jerusalem Post.
On Yom Kippur eve, hundreds of protesters called for Gerbi’s deportation and carried signs reading “There is no place for the Jews in Libya,” The Jerusalem Post reported. The protesters attempted to forcibly remove Gerbi from his central Tripoli hotel, he told the Post, but were stopped by hotel and Libyan security, and government officials.
Gerbi began trying to clean up the site of the Dar al-Bishi synagogue earlier this month but said he was forced to leave the site by armed men. He said since then he has been holed up in his hotel room.
He said he had spent weeks getting permission from the country’s new leaders to clean up the site.
Gerbi, a representative of the World Organization of Libyan Jews, had told Reuters that he was applying to become a member of Libya’s National Transitional Council as a full member to represent the Jewish community and planned to reclaim Jewish properties confiscated by the state.
Most Tripoli synagogues have been destroyed or converted to mosques. Jewish cemeteries also have been torn down to make room for office buildings.
Gerbi fled Libya with his family in 1967 when he was 12 years old.