David Gerbi, Jungian psychologist and Libyan Jewish representative (left), has been aiding the rebels
The World Organization of Libyan Jews (WOLJ), representing 200,000 former refugees, most of whom live in Israel, has officially recognized the Benghazi-based rebels – the Libyan National Transitional Council – as Libya’s legitimate government, The Jerusalem Post reports. While some would see this move as premature while Muammar Gaddafi remains in power, it makes sense for Libyan Jews to show solidarity with the rebels, and David Gerbi, the WOLJ representative, has personally showed his commitment to them. However, I feel that David Gerbi dwells on the points of contact between Libyan Muslims and Jews, without drawing enough attention to the unresolved abuses and uncompensated dispossession the Jews have suffered. Most importantly, WOLJ could have made the point that ex-Libyan Jews will not be exercising their 'right of return' from Italy and Israel.
In a letter to Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the NTC, the Israeli president of WOLJ, Meir Kahlon, offered his organization’s support and assistance.
“We feel it is our obligation that Libya become a model state with freedom of thought and religion for all its citizens,” the letter stated, announcing the appointment of Dr. David Gerbi as WOLJ’s “legitimate representative.”
Gerbi, an Italian Jewish Jungian psychologist born in Tripoli in 1955, has made several trips to Libya in the past decade in attempts to negotiate reconstruction and reconciliation for the Libyan Jewish community that traces its origins to the third century BCE.
Last month, as the first Libyan Jew to publicly declare his backing for the NTC, he worked as a volunteer teaching methods for healing victims of post-traumatic stress syndrome in Bengazi’s Psychiatric Hospital.
“The world-wide community of Libyan Jews is proud that its son, David Gerbi, has made his way to Bengazi to provide humanitarian assistance on the ground to the brave people of that city,” the letter said.
“His effort is symbolic of our belief that, in spite of more than 40 years of forced separation, we have good feelings toward Libya...
We, sons of Libya our native land, grew up with the memories of our ancestors, and we open our homes to our Libyan brothers with the hope that your homes will be opened to us.”
Italian diplomatic sources in Bengazi confirmed to Gerbi that Kahlon’s letter was well received and that Jalil’s secretary had asked officials to ask Gerbi to postpone a projected trip to Libya until the end of the revolution.
Gerbi has had unofficial support from Italian diplomacy on all levels.
Italian officials said they are interested in encouraging reconciliation between Libya and its former Jewish population in the interests of interreligious relations and democracy.
This line of action has also drawn sympathy from EU representatives in their common interest of creating democracies respectful of human rights and freedom of conscience in the countries of the “Arab Spring.”
Gerbi, who stressed his triple identity as an Italian, a Jew with vital connections to Israel, and a Libyan, wants to return to his volunteer work for those he considers his Muslim Libyan brothers and sisters in Bengazi. And now, as Libyan Jewry’s official representative, he hopes he will be able to fulfill his commitment to restoring and re-consecrating the Libyan Jewish heritage and to working for the free movement of people between Libya, Israel and the world.
He also hopes to arrange a religious burial for the remains of Libyan Jews in that city, whose bones are stored in trunks.
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Gerbi asked not to travel to Libya until revolution over (Arutz Sheva)