Roman Jews’ meeting with Gadhafi in jeopardy

ROME (JTA) — Roman Jews are likely to boycott a meeting with visiting Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi unless the date is changed from Shabbat.

Gadhafi arrived Wednesday in Rome. 

Thousands of Jews were forced out of Libya following anti-Semitic riots in the wake of Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War, and many found refuge in Italy.

Organizers of Gadhafi’s visit invited a delegation of Jews to meet with Gadhafi on Saturday, along with other Italians who were expelled from Libya, a former Italian colony, in the early 1970s. Angry Jewish leaders said they were not consulted on the date and have requested that the day of the meeting be changed.

Community President Riccardo Pacifici said that no official Jewish delegation would meet with Gadhafi on Shabbat, but acknowledged that Jews might attend a Saturday meeting as individuals.

Community leaders want information from Gadhafi on the whereabouts of a Palestinian who was sentenced for involvement in a 1982 terrorist attack on Rome’s main synagogue and later found asylum in Libya.

Gadhafi’s four-day visit is his first to Rome. He will be staying, under tight security, in a large Bedouin-style tent that has been pitched in a city park.

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