WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sixteen House Democrats, including 10 top Jewish members, wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to use her influence to preserve Jewish sites in Libya.
“They are tangible evidence of a once open and tolerant chapter in its past and can serve as a visible symbol of a more hopeful future,” said the Oct. 11 letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.).
The letter was written in part because of the new Libyan government’s treatment of David Gerbi, a Libya-born Italian Jew who has attempted to refurbish a neglected synagogue in Tripoli.
At first the transitional government, which replaced the Gadhafi regime, encouraged Gerbi in his effort. However, after protests against any Jewish presence in Libya, Gerbi was asked to leave. Gerbi provided JTA with the letter this week.
Among those signing were Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee; and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic re-election committee.