Although he expressed strident language against Israel over his bloody 40-plus-year regime in Libya, Moammar Gaddafi was a long-term pen-pal with a Jewish man from Brooklyn.
Louis Schlamowitz, a retired 81-year-old florist, wrote letters and exchanged photos with the Libyan strongman for twenty years starting in the late 1960s, according to a report in the New York Post.
“He was a good pen pal,” the Canarsie resident told the paper. “I felt it was very nice of him to take the time to write back to me, because I’m nobody special.”
The post reported that Schlamowitz, who has exchanged correspondence with many world leaders, including US President Harry Truman and even Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, first wrote to Gadhafi right after he seized power in Libya in 1969 in a bloodless coup.
“I wished him well and congratulated him on being the new leader of Libya, hoping for many more years ahead of him,” Schlamowitz said.
“At end of letter, I said I’d be very grateful if he would send a personal picture of himself to add to my Middle East collection.”
One month later, Gaddafi responded with an autographed and a ‘thank you’ note.
“We kept corresponding with each other. I’d send Christmas cards and letters to him about my different viewpoints about the United States and Israel. I said the state of Israel would never be split because it’s the homeland of the Jewish people,” Schlamowitz said.
Gaddafi replied in 1981 with a lengthy diatribe against both the US and Israel.
“America practices terrorism against the Palestinian people through providing Israel with the planes and weapons for attacking the Palestinian camps,” the Libyan dictator wrote to the florist.
“If America carried out an act of aggression against us, we will become a second Vietnam.”
However, the letter-writing campaign to brutal dictators did catch the eye of the CIA, which dispatched agents to question Schlamowitz a few times. But they realized the correspondence was harmless and left the Brooklyn man alone.
Nonetheless, the bizarre correspondence with Gaddafi ended after the 1988 Pan Am Airline bombing which killed 270 people in Scotland
“[Gaddafi] committed crimes against humanity. I didn’t want to get mixed up with him or his organization, so I backed out,” he said.
Schlamowitz tried to touch base with Gaddafi again six months ago when the Libyan revolt erupted, but got no reply.
“I wanted to give him a lift, with all he was going through. So I wrote him a letter saying, ‘If you don’t take care of your people, your people will take care of you,’” he told the Post. “I felt bad about how he was slaughtered. They really gave him the one-two-three. But that’s politics.”