By Dovid Efune
At this point, there can be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the evil of Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi knows no limits whatsoever. Long recognized as a terror activist and certified crackpot, his brutal and public suppression of the popular revolt currently under way in Libya has granted him firm standing amongst history’s barbaric mass murderers and criminals against humanity.
Gaddafi’s antics have long been ridiculed and scoffed at by journalists and commentators. His long rambling diatribes, delivered at whatever podiums are made available, are the source of some rare amusement. But as a whole, Western leaders have in the past accommodated his maniacal behavior, and engaged in diplomatic and business relations. Now, however, all backs are facing Gaddafi and with active rejection from his people, came passive rejection from many of his former international political allies.
One wonders why so many turned a blind eye for so long, facilitating the oppression and suffering of many of Gaddafi’s subjects. The world’s longest serving dictator managed to maintain international alliances, and build up a personal fortune that rivals that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
In view of recent developments in Libya, I was prompted to take a look at a long neglected book on my shelf entitled ‘Making Peace with Gaddafi.’ The book was inscribed and given to me by its author David Gerbi whom I had met in South Africa more than three years ago.
Gerbi has an interesting life story. He is a Libyan Jew whose family was subject to persecution and eviction from their homes in 1967 following the Six Day War. As a refugee he settled in Italy, and following Gaddafi’s 1969 rise to power, his family’s property was formally confiscated by the Libyan government. He tells of the pogrom of 1967, the destruction of the Tripoli synagogue, his family’s mistreatment as Jews, and his father’s depression over the loss of his livelihood.
Many years later, Gerbi discovered that he had a sick aunt still living in Libya, possibly the last Jew there, and he began to devise a plan to visit. Finally, through personal connections, he succeeded in conveying a letter to Gaddafi and was shortly afterward awarded a visa. During the trip to Libya, which he described as being the first by any Jew since 1969, he visited the derelict Tripoli synagogue, and other places of his youth. Gerbi also met with various Libyan officials, and mingled with the locals.
What happens next in the narrative is most bizarre. Upon leaving Libya and after some deliberation and soul searching, Gerbi assigned himself a new life mission, namely ‘Making Peace with Gaddafi.’ He traveled to the United States in an effort to try and persuade anyone who would listen that Gaddafi is a ‘well intentioned’, and ‘credible’ individual, and he attempted (through various channels) to initiate enhanced diplomatic relations between the US and Libya.
It is now very clear that Gaddafi is a brutal dictator of the worst kind; in fact for most there was little doubt of this before his current barbaric suppression of dissent. But what would possess a Jew, whose family had suffered at his hands, to pursue an active agenda in service of Gaddafi’s rehabilitation and the furthering of his twisted agenda?
It is clear to me that for Gaddafi, Gerbi presented an opportunity as a willing propaganda tool that would present him as humane, and he therefore jumped at the opportunity. But as far as Gerbi was concerned, was it purely a matter of naiveté? Perhaps Stockholm Syndrome? Or just an innate and desperate need to be accepted by those who had once so ruthlessly rejected him?
As I continued reading, what became apparent was that the tone of the book was self-centered. The focus was decidedly not on what could be done to better the lives of the Libyan people, or how Gaddafi’s stranglehold on power could be eased, but more on his personal quest for closure. It became clear that Gerbi’s objectives were more important than the wellbeing of the masses, and thus subject to manipulation.
It is in the same vein that the governments of free and fair countries around the world were motivated to establish the backhanded dealings and shady arrangements that kept Gaddafi in power for all these years at the expense of millions of Libyans.
The lesson is clear. In our global age, the politics of selfishness is rapidly losing credibility. There will be fewer secrets, and a high level of accountability will be demanded from all that have been elevated to a position of power. There will be no peace with Gaddafi, and no one should demand it; what should be called for is justice to be served to the people of Libya.
The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF. His article appears weekly on Matzav.com.