“The Right of Return”
Is it a right only to Libya’s Jews, or does it include the Palestinians?
An Open Letter
To the Head of the Libyan Jewish Community in the UK
The Honourable Raphael Luzon
19 March 2007
I have previously expressed, on several occasions, my deep sorrow for what had befallen you in 1967 and its agonising consequences over the past 40 years (1)(2). It is a feeling shared by all conscientious people in the Libyan society.
In the past, I was always careful that our dialogue did not expand to include the Palestinian issue. I deliberately tried to focus solely on the Libyan issue in the hope that we would be able to build a bridge of understanding and mutual confidence that would help us cross the divide that has existed between us for all these long years(3).
My abstention from discussing the Palestinian issue was not out of negligence or lack of concern, for we have obligations towards our Palestinian brothers too. The injustices which have befallen them – and still do – including killings, forced exile, confiscation of their lands and property and total violation of their human rights, are of unimaginable magnitude. Any fair or conscientious human being can not overlook or sidestep their plight.
Now that we have bridged the gap between us, we would like to know your views, as well as those of the Libyan Jewish community at large, regarding the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their confiscated homes. The Palestinian right of return is so fundamental it is recognised by a United Nations resolution that consecutive Israeli governments refuse to implement or to even entertain the principle of discussing.
What cannot be overlooked is that your tragic ordeal is distinctly linked to that of the Palestinian people. It would not be fair to expect sympathy for your demands from the Libyan people without recognising the similar rights of the Palestinian people. This is by no means a stipulation of your rights, rather a quest for a balanced moral stand prompted by the principles of fairness and even-handedness.
Would we see from you a just stance equal to that which you expect from your Libyan brothers?
Mohamed Ben Ghalbon
Chairman of the Libyan Constitutional Union
Manchester - UK
(1) “And the Jews of Libya”, “Al-Hayat” Newspaper, 9 March 1995:
(2) An open letter posted on 28 May 2005:
(3) “Al-Hayat” Newspaper, 9 January 2006: