Tuesday 19 November 2013

The Iraq Jewish Archive, Flashback to 2008

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property "Observer") needed help finding my earlier discussions of the Iraq Jewish Archive which is currently in the US and which various interest groups are trying to prevent going back to Iraq. I came across this text ('Jewish Books From Iraq Smuggled to Israel' CPO Saturday, June 28, 2008) from five years ago and thought it worth drawing attention to. It is worth noting that according to this version, the collection was already dismembered before the US conservation exercise. Not only have the items reportedly taken from it been deprived of the careful conservation at the hands of US specialists but are presumably not included in the recent digitisation of the entire collection which also took place in the US.  Peter Tompa writes:
Jewish Books From Iraq Smuggled to Israel: I found this article to be of interest [broken link]: As indicated in a prior post, similar materials have also been saved by others and then donated to synagogues both here and abroad:  with the following link: [the Jewish Bugle 'a 400 year old Sifrrei Torah's journey from Iraq...' broken link]. Will the archaeological community demand the repatriation of these artifacts to Iraq even though the Jewish congregations that created and used these artifacts for liturgical purposes no longer exist? Stay tuned.
The second broken link is to a Youlus Foundation story, and we all know what happened to Rabbi Youlus. So is Peter Tompa lauding the splitting of this collection?


Cultural Property Observer said...

I think you are confusing this one Torah, with the archive which was removed under the authority of the US Government to the US.

But you still have not responded to the key question that I've asked you. It's clear the Iraqi Jewish Archive consists not only of documents "about Iraqi Jews" as you have claimed, but also of religious and personal documents TAKEN from Iraqi Jews who were then deported? Do you see a difference between these documents and the others? If not, why not?

Paul Barford said...

I am not getting "confused". YOU wrote about the removal of Jewish documents from Iraq. One of these turned out to be a scam.

What I ACTUALLY SAID (and why not give the link?) was
"I am not sure what your definition of "thief who stole them" is here. Certainly some of the items, including the ones discussed in the news item were official documents ABOUT former inhabitants of Iraq, not the personal property OF them.


In the news item which I discussed and to which I refer were ring-binders of school documents, doctor's reports, some documents in Arabic, "the Mukhabarat, Hussein’s secret police — who had, among other things, busily gathered intelligence on Iraqi Jews". So yes, I think this report is giving the picture that there are documents there ABOUT Iraqi Jews.

As for how I'd differentiate them, I would not. As in the case of any collection of documents of this nature, the surviving portions of this archive should in my opinion be preserved intact precisely as that.

Since you are such a stickler for detail, are you saying that all these documents were "taken" (none were simply left behind as people fled)? Are you saying all the people associated with these documents were physically "deported" (or did some flee, or emigrate)? These are emotive words, but this simplified picture you paint probably distorts the complexities of the real events.

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