Monday, February 28, 2011
The Just and Logical Solution to the Libyan Crisis - restore it to its Proper Rulers!
By Steven Plaut
The world is wringing its hands over the fate of Libya. It is
seeking a peaceful logical solution to the regime that will govern
Libya in the post-Kaddafi era.
Being a helpful sort of guy, and what with Purim coming up fast, I
know just the proper and just solution. I would like to place on the
international table the obvious, most logical, and most justified
solution to the question of Libyan governance. Control of Libya
should be returned at once to the natural and rightful owners of
Libya, the people who controlled it before it was invaded and occupied
by the Arab military hordes.
Libya should be returned to the Jews.
Why the Jews? Well, because the Jews controlled Libya not only
before the Kaddafi era but even before the country was seized
militarily and illegally occupied by the Arabs. Libya was governed by
a Jewish Berber queen known to history as Kahina. Really.
Let's put Libya's history in order to see who the proper rulers
of the land really are. Before the birth of Mohammed, back when there
were no Arabs at all in North Africa and the Arabs were confined to
the Arabian peninsula, Libya and its surroundings were home to
Byzantine occupiers and to indigenous Berber tribes. The latter were
the true natives of the area. The Romans called them Berbers, from
which they derived the derogatory adjective "barbarian," but the
Berbers called themselves Imazighen, possibly meaning "free people" or
"free and noble men." Libya was Berber long before the Egyptians and
their slaves built any pyraminds. Cathaginians conquered the area and
were evicted by other conquerers, as were the Vandal tribes and the
Byzantines. But the natives consisted of Berbers.
And Jews. The Jews had entered the area probably first during
the period of the Second Temple, and Berber-Jewish ties were
strengthened during the revolt against the Romans in the Land of
Israel that ended with the destruction of the Temple. The North
African Jews mixed with and influenced local Berber tribes. The
French historian Marcel Simon claims that Tripoli, the same Tripoli in
which Muammar Kaddafi pranced about and suppressed his own people, was
under the rule of Jewish Berbers as early as the first century of the
By the time the Arab imperialist armies entered Libya after the
death of Mohammed, Berbers in Libya and North Africa belonged to
Christian tribes (usually heretical heterodox Christians), pagan
tribes, and at least one large Jewish tribe. And the Jewish tribe was
led by a woman! No glass ceilings for her! She did not need any
Reform rabbis to lecture her about egalitarianism in Judaism!
While known in most histories as the Kahina (from the root word
Cohen for priestess), her actual name is given variously as Dahiyah,
Dahia, or Dhabba. Her tribe was known as the Jerawa, based in the
Aures Mountains in eastern Algeria and Tunisia, and whose control
extended into Libya. And she was a warrior queen. The historian
Charles-Andre Julien, in his History of North Africa, calls her the
Berber Deborah. And her most dramatic victories were over the Arab
imperialist invaders. She decided to resist the illegal occupation of
her homeland by the Arab colonialists and to drive out the Arab
settlers with force. She drove the first wave of Arab invaders out of
Libya altogether, although they later returned.
After the Arab general Hassan ibn al Numan took Carthage from the
Byzantines, the Kahina's forces defeated him on the battlefield. She
was later defeated by him. Most Berber tribes were later Islamized,
although retained their penchant for embracing theological heterodoxy
even as Muslims.
The Kahina is not a figment of Jewish imagination like some Golem
of Prague. The greatest Arab historian of all time, the medieval Ibn
Khaldun, writes at length about her military campaigns. The great
historian Edward Gibbon, author of the classic history of Rome,
mentions her. She was a figure of fascination for the great American
writer Washington Irving, better known for his tales of Rip van Winkle
and Ichabod Crane. I have always wondered whether his familiarity
with beheadings in Arab society inspired his headless horseman in the
Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Here is a segment of Irving's history of the Kahina:
'After repeated battles, the emir Hossan was compelled to retire with
his veteran but diminished army to the frontiers of Egypt. The patriot
queen was not satisfied with this partial success. Calling a council
of war of the leaders and principal warriors of the different hordes:
"This retreat of the enemy," said she, "is but temporary; they will
return in greater force. What is it that attracts to our land these
Arab spoilers? The wealth of our cities; the treasures of silver and
gold digged from the bowels of the earth; the fruits of our gardens
and orchards; the produce of our fields. Let us demolish our cities;
return these accursed treasures to the earth; fell our fruit-trees;
lay waste our fields, and spread a barrier of desolation between us
and the country of these robbers!"
'The words of the royal prophetess were received with fanatic
enthusiasm by her barbarian troops; the greater part of whom,
collected from the mountains and from distant parts, had little share
in the property to be sacrificed. Walled towns were forthwith
dismantled; majestic edifices tumbled into ruins; groves of
fruit-trees were hewn down, and the whole country from Tangiers to
Tripoli was converted from a populous and fertile region into a
howling and barren waste. A short time was sufficient to effect a
desolation, which centuries have not sufficed to remedy.'
So back when Muammar Kaddafi's ancestors were chasing camels
around what is now Saudi Arabia, Jewish roots were well entrenched in
Libya. So would not the most logical resolution of the current
political crisis in Libya be to restore it to its proper Jewish
If the Arabs are thought to be entitled to 22 different states,
why should the Jews not have at least two – one in the Land of Israel
and one in Libya. Jewish high-tech know-how in agriculture would have
Libya turned into a rain forest within a decade. In fact, since Purim
is coming and I am feeling in a good mood, I would even be willing to
agree that part of Libya be used for solving the "Palestinian
problem." All the Palestinians can be moved to the southern part of
Libya near the Chad border and they can even set up their own state
there. Maybe even two states, one for the Hamas and one for the PLO!
They can have a cut of the Libyan oil revenue if they behave
If a brief period of Arab rule over the Land of Israel is thought
to convey some sort of legitimate claim to parts of Israel for Arabs,
why should the Jewish rule in Libya, older than the Arab conquest of
"Palestine," not similarly confer natural rights of sovereignty?
The peace plan is simple. The illegal Arab colonial occupation of
Libya must be ended! The illegal settlements must be removed. The
legitimate Jewish rulers of Libya must be restored to power. And now
is the right time to do so, by Dahia!