Sunday, September 08, 2013

Iraq will 'sell returned archive to Jews'

If the Jewish archive is returned to Iraq, the Iraqis will only want to make money out of selling it back to the Jews, argues Sasson Azoory in the JIMENA blog on the Jerusalem Post:

Please sign petition if you haven't already!

My name is Sasson Azoory and I left Baghdad, Iraq in 1959 to study in the United Kingdom. When I left, Iraqi General Abd al-Karim Qasim was in the midst of his three-year rein. During this small window of time Iraqi Jews were granted freedom of movement and I am one of the few Jews who was able to leave the country using my Iraqi passport.

A couple of years after my departure, General Qasim was assassinated, ushering in a very dark period for the remaining Jews of Iraq. By the mid 1960s there were less than 6,000 Jews left in Iraq and they began leaving illegally at a considerable risk to their lives. In 1966, in the middle of my studies in the UK, the Iraqi Government revoked my passport and I became a stateless refugee. They did this simply because I’m Jewish. I immigrated to Canada in 1968 and received my Canadian citizenship five years later, in 1973.

Since the 1950s, a succession of Iraqi governments have revoked the citizenship of Iraqi Jews, confiscated our communal and private property, and made our lives generally intolerable. The Iraqi Jewish archive now being held in Washington DC, that the current Iraq government now wants back, is simply stolen property. In my opinion, any guarantee by the current Iraqi Government that they will protect the Jewish archive is a cynical way to deceive the US government. I find it laughable that these artifacts, including some holy Jewish scrolls in Hebrew, will be exhibited and appreciated by the Iraqi public who vehemently hate the Jewish people and who were instrumental in destroying synagogues and desecrating Jewish cemeteries.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Iraqi government tried to sell these artifacts to Iraqi Jews at a later date when the dust settles. In 1982, the Iraqi Jewish Association of Toronto paid a bribe of $10,000 to smuggle a Torah scroll to Toronto via London. The temptation to monetize these treasures, which are of no use to the Iraqi people, is very compelling. If the Iraqi Government, after kicking the Jews out of Iraq and confiscating their properties really want these artifacts as part of Iraqi history and heritage, they can show good faith by starting to repair and restore the many Jewish buildings and monuments throughout Iraq for their public to enjoy and appreciate.

As an Iraqi Jew, I believe the artifacts should be returned to an Iraqi Jewish community. More specifically to the Babylonian Heritage Museum in Israel, where 2/3 of the Iraqi Jews and their descendants now reside.

Read post in full 

Do not send treasures back to Iraq (Jewish Chronicle) 

Joe Samuels' blog (Times of Israel)


iBundangbear said...

These relics were produced in what is now Iraq and are, undeniably part of Iraqi history, irregardless of the present. Therefore, they remain the property of the nation of Iraq. The US government should return them to the rightful nation, Iraq. Now, of course, herein lie the complexities, and let me add a corollary to address this: in the time since, religion has changed in Iraq, much like it has changed in Egypt. Do modern followers of ancient Egyptian religions, Akenaton and sun worshipers, have ownership rights to these relics? Of course not! Nor do us Jews have de facto ownership rights to all relics with Hebrew written on them. --The REAL alternative Jewish viewpoint from Bundang Bear

Empress Trudy said...

Since Iraq only wants to own them in order to destroy them publicly, wouldn't it be cheaper and easier for us to simply burn them all and let the Iraqis watch?

Sylvia said...

You're missing the point, Ibungdanber.The people to whom those records belong are still alive. They're not an ancient people that has disappeared and replaced, they are people and entire communities that have been kicked out, robbed, persecuted, and made to be refugees amd are still living dispersed in many countries. .
Why, if you go to another country, don't your school records go with you?
Let's be logical.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

bundung, your attitude is outrageous. You are recognizing the right of a state to steal from its people. Some of these objects and records, etc., were private property. Some were Jewish communal property. They were stolen by tyrannical, Judeophobic govts. This is not "national property" of the Iraqi nation. By the way, before the 20th century, nobody ever heard of an "Iraqi nation." That was strictly an invention of the British. Yes, Iraq was an Arab name for the territory, roughly speaking, a land earlier called Babylonia, etc.
But there was no Iraqi nation before the UK set up the kingdom of Iraq as compensation to Faisal the Hashemite whose previous kingdom of Syria had been taken by the French. And still today there is no Iraqi nation. Just because "Iraq" sits at the UN and votes the Arab League line on issues having to do with Israel, does not meant that there is an Iraqi nation. Look what they do to each other today.
Learn history and give up your fetishism of the state.

Telemaque said...

iBundangbear, these artifacts were the property of individual Jews. Not a single one of them was ever donated to the Iraqi nation or state.

The theft of these artifacts is well within living memory. We are not talking about relics dug out of the sand.

Telemaque said...

If, on the other hand, the Iraqi nation or any Iraqi individual organization or entity, wants to obtain Jewish artifacts for honorable educational purposes, they can ASK NICELY. If they do so, they will not be refused.