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We can no longer deny the Holocaust of Libya's Jews

I wanted to believe that my mother’s cries, who for years woke up in the middle of the night, crying in a mix of Arabic and Italian, were not heard by a single writer of Israeli history.

By Yossi Sucary

Holocaust survivors return to Libya from Bergen Belsen concentration camp, 1945. (Yad Vashem)

Holocaust survivors return to Libya from Bergen Belsen concentration camp, 1945. (Yad Vashem)

I wanted the believe that the Nazis’ bullets, which struck the heads of my mother’s 12 and 13-year-old cousins with frightening precision, accidentally missed the history books of the State of Israel.

I wanted to believe that my grandmother, who was taken from the blazing heat of the Sahara Desert, where she lived as a free and loving woman, on a three-year journey that ended in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in snowy Germany, could not be contained in the pages of history of the State of Israel, because her feet were simply too lazy to take her to the Education Ministry and tell the people there about it.

I wanted to believe that I learned, over and over again, about the 49 people who were murdered during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, but I didn’t learn a thing about the thousands of Jews from Libya who were massacred by the Nazis in the Jado, Gharyan, Said al Aziz, Bergen Belsen and Birenbach Reiss concentration camps, all due to a silly mistake by a lowly clerk in the Education Ministry of the State of Israel.

I wanted to believe that my mother’s cries, who for years woke up crying in the middle of the night, in a mix of Arabic and Italian, fearing that the Germans were coming to take her, were not heard by a single writer of history, only because it was too soft, and it is her fault that she did not cry louder.

I wanted to believe that when Nachum Goldman, the President of the World Zionist Organization, rejected my aunt Saloma, who asked to receive reparations after her young son was shot at point-blank range by the Germans, he did so because he truly believed his own words: “You have never seen a German in your life, you have an Oriental imagination.”

In fact, I wanted to believe that Israel was not interested in erasing the history of part of its citizenry, but rather was interested in changing what was said about it. This is why I wrote my book “Benghazi—Bergen-Belsen” on black pages — the kind that the State cannot easily scribble on.

That is enough about the past. And now, without a shred of cynicism, I want to believe that despite not having even an ounce of bitterness over these historical distortions, I am very happy that things have changed over the past few years, that justice has been served. That is enough for me.

Yossi Sucary is an author and lecturer on 20th century thought. He received the Brenner Prize for his last book, “Benghazi—Bergen-Belsen.” This post was first published on our Hebrew site, Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Pedro X

      Maybe Yossi Sucary forgot to look at the information the historians of Israel have at Yad Vashem on the Jews of Libya. They have not erased the history or suffering of the Jews of Libya.

      http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/newsletter/25/jews_libya.asp

      There have also been documentaries such as Hashoah Halo Noda’at Shel Yehudei Tsfon Africa and Mitripoli Lebergen Belsen screened on Israeli television. Another film called Goral Meshutaf dealt with other areas of North Africa and the Holocaust. None of the filmmakers accuses anyone of concealing the story of the plight of North African Jewry. The now deceased historian Barry Rubin wrote about the camps in North Africa and the Palestinian involvement in those camps. He indicated that around 5,000 Jews died or were executed in those camps.

      The fact is that the suffering of Jews in North Africa are much less well known because of the numbers. 6 million Jews, one million of them children, died in the Nazi death camps in Europe. Thousands died in camps in North Africa. In addition the majority of North African Jews found their way to Israel or other western countries in the end. No one is trying to erase the suffering of North African Jews, except for the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
      • Proud Miza Jew

        Oh for God sakes you have no shame. Palestinians have NEVER been in charge of anything for you to spew your last line. There is never A DAY WHERE YOU sir are not injecting antisemitic rhetoric against Palestinians – and now about the Holocaust. Curse you and house for that.

        Yet even on this topic you can’t help yourself. THIS ISNT ABOUT PALESTINE! Yet here you are like an addict injecting your venom even when its not the topic.

        Palestinians were and still ARE Jews, Christians and Muslims for TWO THOUSAND YEARS – PERIOD. GTF over it. You cant erase two thousand years of middle eastern Jewish history.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Palestinian and Islamic leader Amin al-Husseini was guilty of genocide against the Jews. In 1942 he got the agreement of the Axis powers to create a genocide of the Jews in the middle east once Germany conquered the area. Rubin and Schwanitz in their recent book “Nazis, Islamists and Making of the Modern Middle East” state:

          “By May 14, 1942, Germany and Italy had also both formally agreed to al-Husaini’s request to liquidate the Jews in Palestine as soon as possible. But while the Germans could not murder Jews in areas they did not possess, al-Husaini repeatedly pressed for quick action in those parts of North Africa they did control.”

          As a result all Jews in Libya under the age of 45 were ordered to be imprisoned. In Tunisia 30 forced labor camps were set up. Gestapo boss Rauff with the help of 106 Arabs killed 2500 Jews in Tunisia and shipped hundreds to death camps in Europe. All toll about 5000 Jews were murdered in Tunisia, Morocco and Libya. This had been done with the encouragement and the recruitment of Arab troops for genocide against the Jews by Palestinian leader Amin al-Husseni.

          Rubin and Schwanitz state:

          “The Germans also kept him [Hussani] better informed than anyone else about the planned and ongoing mass murders. Of course, this was because he favored them, furthered them in every way in his power, and planned to initiate his own genocide in the middle east. The only thing that stopped him was the German’s army failure to conquer the region. And where the Nazis ruled and al-Hussaini had influence – in the Balkans, Tunisia, and Soviet Muslim areas – he supported and trained people to implement it.”

          Adolph Eichmann identified the infamous al-Hussaini – Hitler meeting as the turning point in setting off the implementation of the genocide of Jews. Husseini in his own memoirs bragged about how he was responsible for so many deaths of Jewish persons.

          Of course al-Husseini was not the only Palestinian Arab or Arab who aided the Germans. Many members of the Arab Higher Committee which represented the Palestinian Arabs after world war II were supporters of the Germans and Amin al Husseini. Rubin and Schwanitz state:

          “Al-Hussaini did continue the struggle, in the same spirit, in the same spirit he had done when allied with Hitler. Most of those who worked with him did the same. Al-Husaini’s top military commanders in the new war against the the Jews – al-Qawuqji, Abd al-Qadir al Husaini, and Salama- had all been Nazi collaborators.”

          Palestinian leader Jamal Husaini also backed Amin Husseini which in the end led the Palestinian Arabs into a war of intended genocide against the Jews in 1947-48. The assault by Husseini’s army against the Hatikva quarter on December 8, was done with weapons supplied by the Nazis to al-Hussein in world war II.

          Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            There’s plenty of guilt-by-association to go around. The Zionists conquered Palestine with the help of the empire that engineered famine in India, pioneered concentration camps and racial segregation. Plus Herzl attempted an alliance with the Kaiser’s Germany while the Second Reich was conducting slave labor in Southwest Africa and shortly before the genocide against the Herero (But we don’t have Holocaust museums for that one). With friends like these it’s no wonder the Zionists became colonial oppressors themselves.

            Reply to Comment
      • Yes there were work amps inN Africa, but the Palestinians had nothing todo with them. Some 4,000 Jews died but mainly as a result of Allied bombing.
        The Palestinians were allies of the Nazis and the Mufti had his own plans for concentration camps but these were never realised. However While in Berlin he influenced the Nazis into deporting more Jews to their deaths than even they had planned.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Palestinian leader Amin Husseini was named by the Germans as the leader of Arab troops in North Africa. He trained and sent troops to Tunisia where Gestapo Head of Tunisia murdered 2500 Tunisian Jews with help of 106 Arabs recruited through the efforts of the Palestinian leader to send troops to North Africa to destroy Jewish life there.

          Reply to Comment
          • ABDALLA s. Hamad

            these information hasn’t a basis of accurate , it is just an illusion , if the Germans wanted to benefit from the palestinian leader , they put him in his homeland in Palestine , not to transmit him to a country that does not know .

            Reply to Comment