David Gerbi received death threats simply for wishing to renovate a synagogue in Tripoli
With thanks: Lily
"Jews in Palestine must be returned to their countries of origin': this is the theme being pursued by two Jordanians of Palestinian origin recently interviewed in the Arab media and whose musings were picked up by MEMRI and reprinted in Right Side News.
What is interesting is that both Talal Abu Ghazaleh and Hazem Mubaidhin are compelled to argue for a Jewish 'right of return' to counter-balance the immovable Palestinian demand to return to what is now Israel.
What is new is that neither man attempts to deny that Jews were refugees from Arab countries. They do not use the classic argument that Jews were forced by Zionists to emigrate, or went to Israel of their own free will, but speak of Jewish refugees and individuals from Arab countries with some sympathy.
Abu Ghazaleh says:
"The same yardstick should be applied to the Jewish refugees currently in Palestine, that is to say to all the Jews living on the soil of Palestine who immigrated there under duress and out of need. They immigrated there as a result of the torment, oppression and racial discrimination inflicted upon them in the West ...as well as in the Arab countries. It is a mistake to think that the torment was confined to Germany. The torment began in other countries...even before Hitler..."
Abu Ghazaleh suggest that the international community establish a fund to send the Jews back to their countries of origin.
There are several flaws in Abu Ghazaleh's argument: the first is that there is no such thing as a 'right of return' in international law. The second is that 70 percent of Israeli Jews were born in Israel. The third is that almost no Jew born in an Arab country wants to return to a state where he is neither welcome nor safe.
In arguing that Jews should be encouraged to return to the Muslim countries, and should enjoy equal rights there, Hazem Mubaidhin focuses on the stories of two individuals: Gilles Jacob Lellouche, who recently stood for Tunisia's new Parliament, but didn't get in, and David Gerbi, a Jew born in Libya whose attempts to renovate a Tripoli synagogue were met with objections and even death threats.
Mubaidhin deplores the treatment of Gerbi and questions Libya's commitment to the notion of equal rights for all citizens including Jews. Given his scepticism, it is not clear why Mubaidhin continues to flog the dead horse of Jewish return to Arab countries when these are suspicious, threatening and obstructive towards their former Jewish residents.
As Lyn Julius has argued here, the solution is for neither set of refugees to return, but for both sets to be resettled with full rights in the countries in which they are now. But Palestinians are so deeply and irrationally wedded to their 'right of return' that it is difficult to see how they might ever abandon it.
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