July 26, 2022.
My name is Gina Bublil-Waldman and I am the cofounder and President of JIMENA, an organization created to protect the heritage and rights of formerJewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
I was born in Tripoli, Libya, from which I, my family, and the entire Jewish community were brutally ethnically cleansed and our properties confiscated in 1967. The driver of the bus my family escaped on attempted to kill me and my family by pouring gasoline on the bust and attempting to set it on fire.
It is thanks two British Christians that I survived and am able to speak to you today.
Your committee was established to review MOU requests and determine if they curb the looting of antiquities.
In this case, the government of Libya is the looter. Libyan authorities looted all our Jewish religious artifacts and our private and communal property. The Libyan government desecrated all of our holy sites and converted all of our synagogues into mosques.
UNLESS THE LANGUAGE IN AN MOU EXPLICITLY EXCLUDES JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN ITEMS, THE CURRENT MOU, AS WRITTEN, LEGITIMIZES THE LIBYAN GOVERNMENT’S CONFISCATION OF WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY OURS.
IT MAKES THEM, THE LOOTERS, THE CUSTODIANS OF OUR PATRIMONY.
On behalf of JIMENA, which represents Libyan Jews in exile, we respectfully ask this committee to carve out exceptions for Jewish religious artifacts and properties which were confiscated from the Libyan Jewish community when we were brutally expelle .
Such carve-outs have been exercised with the Moroccan Government where there were clear exclusions of Jewish items with respect to the MOU.
To conform uniformly, this precedent must be copied in all other MOUs with Middle Eastern countries that have also confiscated Jewish communal patrimony when Jews fled antisemitic persecution.
We request that CPAC include carve-outs that list and name ANY AND ALL specific Jewish and Christian items to BE EXCLUDED from the restricted list .
****including Torah Scrolls, prayer books, Jewish Manuscripts, Torah pointers, menorahs, mezuzahs, Kiddush cups and any and all Jewish ceremonial objects.****
The Dar Bishi Synagogue, where my family worshipped has been stripped of its ceremonial objects, desecrated, and is currently being converted into an Islamic Center. In my submitted testimony you will find a link to a video showing the conversion of the synagogue. I urge you to watch this desecration.
The Libyan authorities imprisoned the person who sent us this video to 8 months in jail just for reporting it.
THE LIBYAN AUTHORITIES HAVE ETHNICALLY CLEANSED US, ROBBED US OF OUR ASSETS, DESECRATED ALL OUR SYNAGOGUES, and RAISED OUR CEMETERIES TO BUILD SKYSCRAPERS.
WE IMPLORE CPAC NOT TO MAKE THEM THE CUSTODIANS OF OUR PATRIMONY .
THE CPIA CREATED LAWS TO GUIDE THIS COMMISSION TO ENSURE THAT MINORITIES RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED AS WELL AS THEIR CULTURAL PATRIMONY – WE BEG YOU TO ADHERE TO THESE LAWS.