David Meghnagi

This book was born originally from an idea of Jacques Roumani z”l, who intensely wanted it to come into being, and got me involved through his passionate commitment to its concrete planning and realization.

Sad to say, Jacques has left us, just a little while before the book was ready for publishing. And while I write this, there rises up in my mind, in sorrow and affection, the memory of someone who was unique. And it’s as if this person were present among us, with his gentleness, his reserved attitude, his kindness, and the critical acuity with which he used to share his thoughts, words, and emotions.

After he moved from Benghazi to the USA, he achieved important positions within the World Bank, which never affected the simplicity and generosity with which he would be open to new relationships. He was a political analyst and an expert on the Arab world, especially Libya, and published numerous articles which became classics on the subject. The idea behind this book had a different meaning, though. With hindsight, it can be read as a sort of living will. It is not only a book on the memory and history of a community, but it is also a project for revitalizing a community life that had never been completely snuffed out. It is an open book that throws a bridge between memory and research, traditions lived and recounted, and the reality of the historical and cultural changes that have taken place. It is what one might call a ‘hybrid’ book in which researchers and cultural operators are involved in various ways in interrogating each other about what has remained of an ancient tradition and how to transmit it to future generations.

David Meghnagi, Rome, February, 2017

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