Thursday, November 07, 2013

Jewish archive finally on display

Ben Zehavi in the Times of Israel has this comprehensive overview of the story of the Iraqi-Jewish archive, now on display in Washington at the National Archives building. Iraq wants the collection back: Video clip showing the digitisation process (National Archives)
WASHINGTON — In May 2003, just days after American-led coalition forces ousted Saddam Hussein, a group of US soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha were searching the headquarters of Saddam’s fearsome intelligence
 Illustration from an 1930s Haggadah before (top) restoration and (below) after
restoration (photo: National Archives)

service for signs of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Submerged under four feet of water in the building’s basement, they instead happened upon five centuries’ worth of books and documents relating to Baghdad’s erstwhile Jewish community.

The thousands of waterlogged materials were quickly rescued and placed outside, but immediately began accumulating mold in Iraq’s powerful summer heat and humidity. 

Within days, two of America’s top preservation specialists from the National Archives in Washington, DC arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and come up with a plan to salvage the items, which included 2,700 books and tens of thousands of communal records in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from the 1540s to the 1970s.

Two months later, the National Archives signed an agreement with Iraq’s Coalition Provisional Authority allowing all of the material to be shipped to the US for preservation and exhibition, “under the condition that, following the restoration, the documents are returned to Iraq.”


Anonymous said...

We owe a lot to Americans and the British.
I'll just cite two lines of a song
Si c'├ętait pas pour les Ricains
Nous serions tous en Germany

I am always astounded at the way people forget.

Anonymous said...

Given the number of Iraqi Jews who emigrated to Israel, if the Archive belongs anywhere, it's in the museum established in Israel to preserve Babylonian Jewish culture.

Anonymous said...

well said!
I am going to ask a very silly question:
Why can't we photocopy them?
Even money is so well copied that it's dificult to differentiate!