Linda Menuhin, central figure of 'Shadow in Baghdad', together with the film's director, Duki Dror, at the Haifa premiere on 22 September
Powerful piece in JIMENA's Jerusalem Post blog by Linda Menuhin arguing against the return of the 'Jewish archive' to Iraq. Linda is the central character of a new film, 'Shadow in Baghdad', honouring the memory of her father, who disappeared in 1972.
"More than 40 years have passed since I fled Iraq, yet Iraq has never
left me. Time and again I earnestly tried to bury my past, without much
success. This year on Yom Kippur I honored my father's memory with a
sense of fulfillment.
"On the eve of Yom Kippur in 1972 my father, a distinguished lawyer in
Iraq, disappeared. He was the first Jewish person to disappear during
the Ba’athist regime’s years in power. In 2003, as U.S. troops entered
Iraq, and the Ba’athist regime was toppled, denial of my father’s
destiny was no longer an option. During that time, the memory of Iraq
became a steady visitor at my home in Israel. All my energy became
focused on deciphering the clues of my father’s disappearance. Friends
all over the world, including some inside Iraq, tried to help trace
documents that might give us a clear idea of what happened to him.
"This long lasting search for my father is the center of a new feature documentary, Shadow in Baghdad,
by award-winning filmmaker Duki Dror. It took Mr. Dror four years to
complete this film. For me, this story is a journey that I carry every
day of my life. Documents helped me reconstruct my father's image and
paved the way to a rational understanding of what happened to him.
"Documents are part and parcel of human history. They provide living
memory that registers an entire community’s existence. To this end I am
looking forward to visiting the U.S. National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA) exhibition, Discovery and Recovery,
which will feature Jewish Iraqi documents seized by the American troops
in 2003. This exhibition, which will open on October 11th, might
present a balanced view of my life in Baghdad while highlighting the
positive cultural relics of my living Iraqi-Jewish community and our
"The exhibition may help me develop lost memories. Were it not for the
recovery and rehabilitation of the Jewish archive, these documents
would have been forever lost in the sewage water of Sadaam Hussein's
secret police headquarters where they were found. While the U.S.
government has rehabilitated and digitized these Jewish documents, they
are committed to returning the originals back to Iraq despite the fact
that there is no longer a Jewish community left there. It saddens me
that the majority of Iraqi Jews will never be able to see the documents
within the archive as Iraq does not allow Israeli citizens into the
"Some of these documents, like student records from the Frank Iny
School, belong to Iraqi Jews, like myself, who are now living scattered
around the world. This is not to mention religious books confiscated
from Iraqi synagogues by the Ba'athist regime. Some of these books
belonged to Jews who were afraid to carry them while fleeing the country
"Why would Iraq insist on retrieving this Jewish communal treasure
while the country is ravaged by factional warfare? If Iraq cannot
protect its own people how on earth can it protect documents of a living
community it persecuted? The concept of Iraqis clinging to these Jewish
documents and claiming them as part of Iraq's national heritage is a
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