Monday, August 20, 2007

Libyan Jew crusades for refugee rights

Gina Waldman tells The Marin Independent Journal (California) how her miraculous escape from death in her native Libya turned her into an activist for the rights of Jewish refugees:


"GINA WALDMAN of Tiburon has horrific tales of escaping with her Jewish family from anti-Semitic mobs in Libya in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War between five Arab nations and Israel.

"What happened to her then colors what she does now - trying to educate the world about the destruction of Jewish civilizations in North Africa and the Middle East where Jews had lived for 2,000 years.

"Palestinians are not the only refugees in the Middle East," says Waldman. In 1948, when Israel was founded, nearly 1 million Jews lived in Arab countries and Iran; today there are fewer than 5,000.

"My community (in Libya) is extinct," she says.

"The Jews who fled have since been integrated into countries all over the world. But Waldman wants the world to remember their plight.

"To that end, she testified last month before a congressional Human Rights Caucus, urging that any discussion of refugee rights should include the rights of other victims - Christians and Jews - displaced by the Middle East wars."

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