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Bringing Back a Forgotten Group of Libyans

Memory of Libya’s Jewish population gradually vanished under the authoritarian rule of Libya’s former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who denied Jews civil rights, confiscated their assets and forbade them from ever returning. But Rapheal Luzon never forgot his homeland. And as the chairman of the Committee for Libyan Jews, the 65-year-old is now keeping the history of his people alive by fighting for their right to return home. Luzon’s fight started when he assumed the position of chairman after moving to London in 2004. Despite supporting the uprising, Luzon remains a polarizing figure in his native country. Most recently, he met with the United Nations peace envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, on Feb. 6. Luzon alleged that Salamé promised to give Libyan Jews an official seat at the table in future negotiations. In talks with both leaders, Luzon insisted that he’s not asking for compensation for confiscated assets but that he’s merely fighting for Libyan Jews to be recognized as minority citizens. And with Libyan Jews across the globe — numbered at more than 100,000 — rallying behind him, Luzon is confident that his people will be able to return to their homeland once the quagmire ends.