This book investigates the transformative period in the history of the Jews of Libya (193852), a period crucial to understanding Libyan Jewry’s evolution into a community playing significant roles in Israel, Italy and in relation with Qaddhafi’s Libya.
Against a background of a reform conscious Ottoman administration (18351911) and subsequent stirrings of modernization under Italian colonial influence (191143), the Jews of Libya began to experience rapid change following the application of fascist racial laws of 1938, the onset of war-related calamities and violent expressions of Libyan pan-Arabism, culminating in mass migration to Israel in the period 194952.
By focusing on key socio-economic and political dimensions of this process, the author reveals the capacity of Libyan Jewry to adapt to and integrate into new environments without losing its unique and historical traditions.
The evolution of Libyan Jewry between 1938 and 1952 is characterized by three pivotal developments: The first (193843) was one of disruption and dislocation, brought about by the oppressive colonial administration allied with Germany.
In the second (194548), riots and pogroms by Muslim Libyan mobs, agitated by pan-Arab and Palestinian sympathies, against Jewish communities left unprotected by the post-war British administration, ushered-in an awakening to the fact that its millennial presence in Libya was about to end. Incipient Zionism among Libyan Jews, particularly in youth movements, matured into fully shared decisions to migrate to Israel where the third pivotal development (194952) encompassing resettlement, economic, social and religious adaptations began to unfold.
The book concludes with an analysis of the success story of Libyan Jewry in Israel, and in Italy where a group of post-1967 refugees reconstituted a thriving, influential community in Rome. Jerusalem and Rome” have thus become the two poles of the renewed Jewish community of Libya, exhibiting political advancement in Israel, and commercial prosperity in Italy, along with a cultural renaissance and potential contributions to the ongoing process of reconciliation of the new Libya (as of 2005) with the West.