Baghdad, Washington reach deal to allow Iraqi Jewish Archive to stay in US

15 May 2014

An agreement has been reached between the US and Iraqi governments under which the Iraqi Jewish Archive will remain in the United States for an unspecified period.

The archive contains around 2,700 restored Jewish books and thousands of documents. The US spent more than US$ 3 million to restore the texts.

The IJA was due to return to Iraq after the 'Discovery and Recovery' exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York closes this week. However, Iraq's ambassador to Washington on Wednesday announced that a deal has been reached with the US government. Lukman Faily stated, according to the State Department: "The Government of Iraq notes with satisfaction the remarkable success of the 'Discovery and Recovery' exhibit of the Iraqi Jewish Archive.

"This exhibit has led to an increase of understanding between Iraq and United States and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq. I am therefore pleased to announce that, in order to continue this important work and to allow the exhibit to be displayed in other cities in the United States, the Government of Iraq has authorized me to extend the period which the exhibit may remain in the United States."

The ambassador added: "We consider the history of Jewish communities in Iraq to be an integral part of the history of our country  — one that we honor and cherish — and nothing can erase this history, nor change our commitment to preserving its memory. For us as Iraqis, it is important to recover this precious piece of our cultural heritage that documents an era of our country’s history."

The agreement comes after a controversy in the US and Canada. A resolution calling for the original agreement to return the archive to be re-negotiated was approved by the US Senate and a second resolution is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer told the British newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' that the issue was one of human rights. "This is a group of people that have had so much of their history taken away or destroyed over the years, and under no circumstances should these artifacts be handed back to Iraq," he declared.

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Comments

mireille mechoullam

木, 15 5月 2014

Chuck Schumer is right. The Iraqi Government mistreated Iraqi Jews by hanging some and took all their property before leaving Iraq. Most of them immigrated to Israel and these archives should be sent to Israel to the Israel Museum of Jerusalem. If returned to Iraq they will have the same fate as before: damped.

HASSAN FAGIEH

木, 15 5月 2014

Yes, Dear

Keeping Iraq's Jewish archive in the united states is a good Idea to keep it secure.

Neil Rolde

木, 15 5月 2014

How can one access these documents? I am a published historian contemplating a history of Jews in Moslem countries....Neil Rolde POBox 304, York, ME 03909, 207-363-2843

Geoffrey L Rogg

木, 15 5月 2014

When the US was negotiating with the early post-war Iraqi interim authority the latter flatly rejected US calls for the restitution of property rights to Iraqi Jews who had to flee the defeated regime. They made it perfectly clear that they wanted no Iraqi Jews in the "new Iraq". Therefore, it is no gift from the present Iraqi authorities that they "agree" with so much pomp and circumstance to the Iraqi Jewish archives remaining in the US, hopefully later to be sent to Israel, the Jewish homeland.

Avi

木, 15 5月 2014

This is the correct move. Under no circumstances should the memory of Jewish history under the persecution of savages be allowed to be destroyed -as would happen if the documents were to have been returned to the savages .