ROME (JTA) — Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi invited Italians expelled from Libya after he took power 40 years ago to return to their former homeland.
Jewish community leaders boycotted the meeting between Gadhafi and about 200 exiles because it was held on Shabbat. But about five Jews of Libyan origin attended in a private capacity.
"Gadhafi has acknowledged our problem. He has invited us all to return to Libya," said David Jerbi, one of the Jews who attended.
Jerbi said Gadhafi did not explicitly mention the case of Libyan Jews.
Jewish leaders, meanwhile, passed a letter to Gadhafi asking for compensation for seized property.
Italy long ruled Libya as a colony, and thousands of Italians were expelled after the 1969 revolution that brought Gadhafi to power.
In the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, approximately 6,000 Jews were forced to leave Libya following widespread anti-Semitic violence. Most went on to Israel, but about 2,000 stayed in Italy.
In 2004, after three years of negotiations, a delegation of Libyan Jews living in Italy visited Libya and met with senior officials.