Sept. 18, 2017
- Iraqi Jewish Archive Must Not Be Returned – Dr. Edy Cohen
In 2003, American forces in Baghdad discovered an archive of thousands of photos, documents and books pertaining to Iraqi Jewry in the waterlogged basement of the Iraqi security services’ building. To save the archive, the U.S. military secured the permission of the Iraqi government to send the boxes to the National Archives in Washington, where most of the documents were restored. Last week, a final decision was taken to hand the collection back to Iraq about a year from now.
This decision is like giving a thief back what he stole. It is stolen Jewish property. Why should the U.S. return the collection to a place that is no longer home to Jews? When Israel was founded in 1948, the Iraqi government permanently revoked the citizenship of Jews and expelled them from the country, freezing their bank accounts and confiscating their property.
It’s a question of historic justice. The Iraqi government should apologize to Iraqi Jews for attacking them, for the ethnic cleansing and the theft. The archive should be kept in a place where there are Jews – either in the U.S. or in Israel. Ideally, it would be sent to Israel to the Heritage Center for Babylonian Jews in Or Yehuda. The writer is a research fellow at Bar-Ilan University. (Israel Hayom)