JERUSALEM — Jews of Libyan origin have asked Italy to include them in a $5-billion reparations package.
The package is compensating Libya for Italy’s occupation of the country. Italy ruled Libya as a colony from 1911 to 1943.
The Jews of Libyan origin also have asked Libya to compensate them for goods seized after almost all remaining Jews in the country fled widespread persecution in 1967.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi signed the compensation deal Aug. 31.
Meir Cahlon, president of the Israel-based World Organization of Libyan Jews, sent a letter earlier this month to Berlusconi via the Italian ambassador in Israel.
Cahlon said that Libyan Jews “suffered the damages of colonization as did everyone.”In addition, he said, they faced further persecution because of Italy’s fascist anti-Semitic laws, implemented in 1938. These, he said, led to “losses of jobs, losses of possessions, losses of freedom and losses of human dignity, ending with the deportations to labour and death camps, where 620 Libyan Jews were eliminated.”
About 40,000 Jews lived in Libya in 1938, but by the late 1960s the number had dwindled to some 6,000. Virtually all the Jews fled to Israel or Italy in 1967.