Daily Israel Report

Libyan Jews Appoint Envoy to Benghazi Shadow Gov't

A Libyan Jewish organization formally recognizes the rebel shadow government and hopes to reconcile Jews to the country.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/17/2011, 12:56 PM / Last Update: 7/17/2011, 1:11 PM

A Libyan Jewish organization has formally recognized the new shadow government based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi as the country's new regime.

The World Organization of Libyan Jews is comprised of some 200,000 former refugees, many of whom fled to Israel.

The group's president, Meir Kahlon, sent a letter to Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), offering assistance and support and naming its representative to the “new government,” Dr. David Gerbi.

Gerbi, currently in Israel for a meeting with Kahlon and to teach a course at the Israel Institute for Jungian Psychology, was born in Tripoli in 1955 and holds Italian citizenship.

A Jungian psychologist, he has traveled several times to Libya over the past 10 years and was the first Libyan Jew to proclaim his support for the NTC. Last month he spent time in a Benghazi psychiatric hospital teaching the staff how to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is hoping to be able to eventually arrange religious burial for deceased Libyan Jews in Bengazi whose remains are currently packed in trunks.

“His effort is symbolic of our belief that in spite of more than 40 years of forced separation we have good feelings towards Libya...” noted Kahlon in his letter.

The message, said Italian diplomats in the rebel-controlled city, was well-received, but Gerbi was asked not to travel again to Libya until the revolution is over. 

Nearly half a year has passed since the start of a civil war that was ignited as the "Arab Spring" swept across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling governments in Egypt and Tunisia and destabilizing others in Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere.

It is not yet clear with Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, accused by a United Nations panel of committing war crimes, will survive the grassroots attempt to oust him from his 41-year seat of power. Qaddafi has vowed to blow up Tripoli, the capital, if it falls into rebel hands.