Friday, November 08, 2013

Iraq may sign loan agreement over archive

with the US. Nathan Guttman reports in The Forward:

(Washington): while stressing his country’s ownership of the Jewish artifacts now on display at the National Archives in Washington, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States hinted that his country could be open to discussing a loan agreement which would delay the return of the objects to Baghdad.

Ambassador Lukman Faily said an Iraq government delegation would be discussing the issue of a loan deal with U.S. authorities soon.

“We don’t see that as a problem, but as of now, the agreement is for these artifacts to go back home,” Faily said.

Faily spoke at the sidelines of a press roll out of “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,” an exhibition of Iraqi Jewish documents and artifacts discovered by the United States after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exhibition, at the National Archives in Washington will officially open to the public on November 8.

The fate of the objects now on display has mobilized Jewish activists in the United States as well as members of Congress, who are demanding the material remain in the United States despite an agreement signed in 2003 that promises all artifacts are returned to Iraq once the restoration process and the exhibitions are complete. The activists noted that the materials in the Jewish Iraqi archive were seized unlawfully by Saddam and should be retuned to their owners. If owners are not found, they are asking to keep the archives in the U.S., because members of the Iraqi Jewish community will not be able to access them in Iraq.

Responding to these arguments Ambassador Faily said: “We appreciate where they are coming from but you also have to appreciate this was an agreement, a legal agreement, agreed with the [Coalition Provisional Authority] back in 2003 and its owned by the Iraqi government.” He added that his government will take good care of the papers when upon their return and will be sensitive to their religious importance to the Jewish community. “We fully appreciate that and we, as Muslims, have a similar perspective regarding the Quran and others, but this is owned by the Iraqi government, it’s a historical agreement we made and we preceding with it.”

It is not clear when the delegation of the Iraqi national archive will conduct talks in Washington and whether they will be presented with a formal American request to sign a long-term loan agreement for the Jewish archive material.


Anonymous said...

As though legal agreements don't get amended all the time and as though the agreement between the Iraqi government and the US actually has validity if the true owners of the documents were not consulted or parties to the agreement. The seizure of these articles was no less a crime than the Nazi seizures of art and other property from the Jewish communities of Nazi occupied countries. If the Iraqi government has any sense of PR, they would let this one go or have some very dirty laundry aired in public.

Ann Korn said...

My brother-in-law, David Isaacs, sais "If Iraq wants the material back it must:

1. Acknowledge true ownership, and

2. Recognise Israel and open full diplomatic relations.