Thursday, April 11, 2013

Torah scrolls 'sold to the highest bidder' in Iraq

  In 2011 The Ben Ish Hai scroll was shipped from Iraq to Israel with US help

News has reached Point of No Return of a disturbing traffic in Iraqi Torah scrolls. In other developments, the Iraqi government has signed an agreement to accept the return of part of the so-called 'Jewish archive' now being restored in Washington DC. 

 Torah scrolls are being shipped from Baghdad to Kurdistan and sold to the highest bidder, according to a source in Iraq.

The source contacted Point of No Return, having seen a photograph of one scroll. It appeared to have been well preserved. The person could not confirm whether it was authentic or where it came from.  It was most probably sold to a US contractor. 

Last June, Canon Andrew White reported having seen 365 Torah scrolls in the rat-infested  basement of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad. Its now deceased curator, Donny George, left for the US soon after Canon White's visit to the museum. The Museum is now closed and will not reopen before 2014. The fate of these Torah scrolls is unknown.

* Transfer agreement signed: The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has agreed with the US authorities to the transfer of part of the Iraqi Jewish archive to Baghdad after restoration work on it is completed.

The Jewish archive is composed of manuscripts, books and scrolls found in the flooded basement of the secret police headquarters in Baghdad following the 2003 US invasion. The archive was seized from private Jewish homes and synagogues under Saddam's rule. 

According to a report in the Iraqi news medium Shafaaq News on 5 April, a  technical committee composed of experts representing several Iraqi ministries will travel to Washington soon to arrange a ceremony for receiving the 'Jewish archive'.

Iraq claims that the 'Jewish archive' as its national legacy. A parliamentary legal committee has sent a number of its members to the US to look at the restoration work. A member of the Committee (...) Mustafa, who visited the U.S. Archives in Washington, DC said that the US had promised to return the archive by the end of 2014 after digitisation. Its return had been delayed because of "significant damage suffered by the archive, which requires quite some time to be restored."

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Iraq had earlier rejected a U.S. request to return half of the Jewish Archive to Baghdad, and demanded full restitution.

There are five Jews still in Baghdad of a community of 140, 000 in 1948. Most Jews of Iraqi descent live in Israel.

Ben Ish Hai scroll shipped from Iraq to Israel 


Anonymous said...

And suddenly... they love our archives????

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Stolen property should go back to the owners, if recovered, not to the family of the thieves. The state of Iraq has no right to any of this Jewish heritage. And the USA aids and abets the usurpers. Outrageous!!!

Anonymous said...

This transfer has to be stopped. Someone with an ownership claim (Iraqi Jew or descendant) needs to file a lawsuit in federal court before the transfer occurs.

Anonymous said...

The story on Shafaaq has disappeared. And nothing on Google search indicates US agreement with Iraq on giving them the Jewish archives.

bataween said...

They could have been told to withdraw it. I can send you the full text (Arabic) if you email me at