As Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fights desperately to cling to power, killing thousands of his countrymen in the process, more and more bizarre stories about his connections to Israel are coming to light.
According to a Tel Aviv-based organization of Jews of Libyan descent, in 2007 the Gaddafi regime offered a large sum of money for the formation of a “Libyan political party” to run in Israel’s 2009 Knesset elections.
Meir Kahlon, head of the World Organization of Libyan Jews, told The Jerusalem Post that between 2005 and 2007 he traveled repeatedly to neighboring Jordan to meet with Libyan officials regarding abandoned Jewish assets in the North African nation.
Nearly all of Libya’s 38,000 Jews (1948 estimates) fled the country and immigrated to Israel when the fledgling Jewish state declared independence. For the preceding three years, Libya’s Jewish community had been the target of incessant and bloody pogroms that left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. Gaddafi subsequently confiscated all abandoned Jewish property and assets.
Kahlon said the Libyans were unwilling to go back on that decision and pay direct compensation to the Libyan Jews who had moved to Israel. But, they were willing to indirectly compensate by funding a Libyan political party in Israel.
“I told him, in Israel, while we have many different political parties…we are one people,” Kahlon said. “I said to him that under no circumstances shall we form a Libyan party.”
The Libyans stopped meeting with Kahlon after that.
Gaddafi has tried to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past by proposing a bi-national solution dubbed “Isratine.” While his solution in some ways matches that of Israeli nationalists who want to annex Judea and Samaria, it also demands that Israel open its gates to millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees,” irrevocably tipping the population scales firmly in favor of the Arabs.
Last week we reported on Gaddafi’s suspected Jewish heritage, citing an Israeli television interview last year with an Israeli Jew of Libyan descent who claims to be Gaddafi’s cousin. If that family connection is true, the Libyan dictator would be legally entitled to safe haven in Israel under the Law of Return, since he is technically Jewish.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama on Thursday declared that Gaddafi had lost all legitimacy to rule after responding so violently to pro-democracy demonstrations in his country, and insisted that the Libyan leader step down immediately.
Israelis are still wondering why the US president has been so firm with Gaddafi, but failed to show the same vigor when responding to the attempted pro-democracy uprising in Iran last year.