Jews of Libya: book tells their story

The author Roumani:”I've been working on it all my life

09 June, 10:12

    (ANSAmed) ROME, 9 JUNE - Anything you may wish to know about the Jews of Libya may be found in a newly released book written by Maurice Roumani, one of the most respected scholars on the modern Middle East at the University of Negev in Israel.

    'The Jews of Libya' (published by Castelvecchi) has been acclaimed as a landmark as significant as the one embodied years ago by Renzo de Felice's "Jews in an Arab country" during the book presentation in Rome's Palazzo Baleani.

    Roumani, who was born in Bengasi and fled like all other Jews, was educated in Great Britain and the United States.

    Browsing through his book, rich in illustrations and useful captions, it becomes apparent that Roumani has meant to address all aspects linked to the Jewish presence in Libya and the subsequent flight: from co-existence with Arabs, to the introduction of discriminatory race-laws during the colonial period (race laws were applied only ouside Hara, the Jewish ghetto, where life went on as it always had); from the mass exodus that between 1949 and 1952 decimated the community, to the gruesome pogroms of 1945 and 1948, influenced by the growing strenght of pan-Arabism and the birth of the State of Israel (1948), up to the latest departures of 1967 and 1969.

    The book also delves into the complexity of integration in the newly founded Jewish State where Libyan and north-African Jews, more generally, have to confront the prejudice of the Ashkenazi elite.

    "It may be said that I've been working on this book since 1960" said the author, recalling when as young student attending an English university, he wrote an essay as the Jews of Libya.

    His research has not stopped ever since.

    'The Jews of Libya' is the result of a long, patient and painstakingly accurate search through archives, libraries, letters and photographs across Italy, Great Britain, the United Stated and Israel.

    This work is particularly interesting for the number of valuable novel sources it quotes as well as for the scientific and scholarly approach of its author. (ANSAmed).

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