Friday, 8 September 2017

The the so-called 'Iraqi Jewish Archive' Being Returned to the Country from which it was Taken

The US will return a group of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to keep in the US, the so-called  'Iraqi Jewish Archive' to the country from which it was taken, a State Department official said (Josefin Dolsten, ' Despite protests, State Department says it will return trove of Jewish artifacts to Iraq' Jewish Telegraphic Agency September 8, 2017)
A four-year extension to keep the Iraqi Jewish Archive in the U.S. is set to expire in September 2018, as is funding for maintaining and transporting the items. The materials will then be sent back to Iraq [...] The archive was brought to America in 2003 after being salvaged by U.S. troops. It contains tens of thousands of items including books, religious texts, photographs and personal documents. Under an agreement with the government of Iraq, the archive was to be sent back there, but in 2014 the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. said its stay had been extended. He did not say when the archive was to return. Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to renegotiate the deal, arguing that the documents should be kept in the U.S. or elsewhere where they are accessible to Iraqi Jews and their descendants.[...]  Iraq and proponents of returning the archive say it can serve as an educational tool for Iraqis about the history of Jews there and that it is part of the country’s patrimony.
The material concerned , much of it waterlogged, was found in 2003 by U.S. troops in the basement of the Iraqi secret services headquarters in Baghdad. In Saddam Hussein’s reign, Iraq had driven the Jewish community out of the country amid intense persecution and taken these objects. The material was cleaned, preserved and then digitalized and exhibited under the auspices of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Thus ends another episode of American Exceptionalism.

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