Representative delivering the statement: Ms. Zeli Frantz
Thank you, Madam President.
The World Jewish Congress notes Iraq’s apparent commitment, in its national report, to guarantee freedom of religion and belief to all Iraqi citizens, and we hope that this pledge will be followed by concrete actions.
We also note Iraq’s accession to UNESCO conventions on the protection of cultural heritage. Iraq was once home to a flourishing Jewish community, tracing its history back to the 6th century BCE. It was a center of Jewish learning, economic prosperity and dynamic coexistence. Over the centuries, Jews significantly contributed to Iraqi arts, music and sciences.
However, due to regional hostility towards the State of Israel, Jews were forced to leave their home country. Their cultural footprint and legacy must not be forgotten, and we call on Iraqi authorities to preserve Jewish heritage sites in the country, such as places of worship and pilgrimage, and to recognize them as integral parts of their nation’s culture. We also urge the government to acknowledge its responsibility toward these forgotten refugees.
Furthermore, the government and the international community have an obligation to ensure the protection and fundamental rights of all its minorities, and that none of its citizens will be subjected to transgressions and injustices of the type carried out against the once-thriving Jewish community of Iraq.