I have unique experience in Libya. To the best of my knowledge, during the 1980s I was perhaps the only American professor to spend a significant amount of time in Libya because of the serial armed hostilities and the imposition of draconian travel prohibitions and economic sanctions inflicted by the Reagan administration. I spent a sum total of four weeks in Libya on three different trips.
In 1985 Libya invited me to conduct a week-long lecture tour and visit. I lectured at universities in Tripoli and Benghazi. I also lectured live on Libyan national television from their studio in Tripoli, and some of my public lectures were broadcasted by Libyan television.
During my first trip to Libya, I spent an entire day visiting their museum dedicated to the documentation of the Holocaust that had been perpetrated upon them by Italy. In 1911 Italy had attacked and invaded the territory we now call Libya and proceeded to occupy it until toward the end of the Second World War. During this period of time (1912-1943), Italy exterminated somewhere “between 250,000 and 300,000” Libyans out of a population of somewhere “between 800,000 and 1 million at the time.” About one-third of all Libyans. In proportional terms, this approached the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Of course Italy also exterminated Jews and Ethiopians as well as Libyans. These victims included the Italian murder of Libya’s acclaimed national liberation hero and martyr, Omar Muktar.