Gina's Story - We Never Lost Our Dignity

Gina's Story - We Never Lost Our Dignity


Gina Waldman was born and raised in Tripoli, Libya. Although Jews had lived in Libya for thousands of years, they were forced to live as second class citizens, or “Dhimmi”, which means they were not granted the same basic human rights as Muslim citizens.

Gina encountered great challenges growing up in Libya. From the time she was young, Gina was faced with the reality of blatant anti-semitism. Violence in Libya escalated in June of 1967, during the outbreak of the Six-Day-War, which was a defensive war Israel fought against its neighboring Arab countries. During that time, a mob surrounded Gina’s family home with the intent to burn it down. However, a neighbor stepped in and saved their home, along with them in it. As things grew more dangerous, Gina’s family had the realization they must flee to save their lives. Gina’s father bribed a police officer in order to have the ability to escape. After Gina’s family was granted a one-way exit visa from Libya — which meant they were never to return — they relocated to Italy.

Despite being oppressed, faced with the threat of death, and being brutally forced to flee her home country, Gina chose to never view herself as a victim. She is President and Co-founder of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA), founded in 2002. Gina has accomplished much in her career as an activist, such as speaking in front of the UN Human Rights Council, testifying in front of the US Congress Human Rights Caucus, and being granted the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. Gina has also served as Director of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jewry.

Gina currently lives California, and remains committed to speaking out on behalf of the “forgotten refugees”.