Raphael Luzon, the U.K.-based President of the Union of the Jews of Libya, said in a December 2, 2019 interview on Wasat TV (Libya) that Libyan Jews do not want to return to Libya, but to be recognized as Libyans and granted Libyan nationality. He said that second- and third-generation Libyan Jews should be allowed to visit Libya and see where their ancestors lived like Jews from Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt are permitted to do. Al-Taher Makni of the Libyan High Council of State responded that if a person has no other citizenships, then Libyan law does not prevent him from being granted citizenship, and Luzon argued that Libya’s laws are meaningless because the country is in chaos and that perhaps Libyan Jews are treated as they are for religious reasons. Luzon also said that Libyan embassies are of no help to Libyan Jews and that he has been physically attacked outside the Libyan Embassy in London. In addition, he argued that the Jews are Libya’s Palestinians since Libya took their money and turned them into refugees.
Following are excerpts:
Host: What are your demands from Libya these days? Do you want to return? Do you claim to have rights to property in Libya? Do you demand money or compensation? What is your basic demand today?
Raphael Luzon: What we are talking about is a historical error. Not a single Libyan Jew today wants to return to Libya. It is not because we don’t love Libya… It has been 52 years since we left Libya after the revolution. Everybody is settled in Italy, in Britain, and everywhere.
The Libyan Jews want, first of all, to be recognized as Libyans – at least those who were born in Libya. They are Libyans and are therefore entitled to a Libyan passport and nationality. Even second- and third-generation Libyan Jews who live in Israel, New York, and so on want to visit [Libya] and see where their ancestors lived, where they are buried, where they prayed, and where they ate fish and chraimeh. Their third wish is to be like the Tunisian and Moroccan Jews who can visit as tourists. I visited Tunisia last year and met with some Libyans. We went to Marsa and Halq Al-Wadi [La Goulette] and saw villas there. To whom do they belong? To Tunisian Jews who emigrated to France and who come every year to spend their summer there. Why can’t it be the same with Libya? Why is it possible in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, but not in Libya? In addition, there is a group of Jewish businessmen who do not want Libya’s money, but the other way around – after all the destruction they have seen in Tripoli, Benghazi, and so on, they want to invest their money [in reconstruction].
Al-Taher Makni: If Mr. Luzon does not have citizenship in another country, then, according to the law, there is no problem with him or anyone else.
Host: But there is no problem with a Libyan having another passport. There are many Libyans who have two passports. Or maybe the problem has to do with religion?
Al-Taher Makni: We are talking about the civil state, and we do not care about a person’s religion, race, or anything else. We only care about the civil state. If a person is Libyan and has a national ID, then he is fine. If the person emigrated from the country, but has not taken another nationality, there is no problem with him, according to Libyan law, and he has the right to return.
Raphael Luzon: To what embassy could we have turned to in the days of Qadhafi? We could not have come within one kilometer of an embassy. That’s one thing. After the  revolution… You all know this so stop lying… There are no embassies today, only chaos. I tried to go to the embassy in Rome, but they wouldn’t let me come near it. At the embassy in London, they beat me and tried to kill me.
All the talk about “law” is nonsense. There is no law. What law? Is there law in Libya? How am I supposed to not have another passport? Can someone get along for 50 years without a passport? I have an Italian passport because I left Libya for Italy. I do not have an American passport.
I would like to know why there is a group of Libyans that curse me on Facebook and [taunt me about] the Palestinian cause. You have “Palestinians” in Libya – the Jews! You put them in tents, took their money, and took over their companies. To this day, I do not know where my uncle and my grandmother were killed. They are buried somewhere, and we were never given a chance to say a prayer over their graves. What are you talking about? A passport? I don’t care about a passport. Give me my right! Afterwards, we will give the Palestinians their rights.