Sunday, December 08, 2013

Don't return the archive to a bunch of bigots

 The Jewish documents of the archive before restoration in 2003

The question of the return of the Jewish archive to Iraq begs the bigger question: why was so much blood and treasure spent in order to see it go back to the hands of a bunch of antisemites? Shmuley Boteach writes in the Jerusalem Post (with thanks: Lisette): 

Have you signed the petition yet?

The US spent approximately $3 million to restore the badly damaged documents and did a spectacular job. But there’s a catch. Our government made a commitment to the government of Iraq that it would return the collection once it was restored. America’s Iraqi Jewish community is now asserting ownership.

Let’s be clear. This is not something that belongs to the Iraqi government. It was looted by Saddam Hussein and should be returned to its rightful owner, the Jewish community of Iraq, who now find themselves mostly in Israel (between 250,000- 400,000) and the United States. That the US is even considering returning the collection is incredible. Our government contends that it made a commitment to the Iraqis before they took the documents to restore them.

But you can’t make any commitments about property that doesn’t belong to you, so the US is not bound by its commitment.

We’ve had enough property looted and stolen from the Jewish community in recent history to condone any more, and the Jewish community in the US should organize politically and fight any attempt to return the collection.

But this just begs the bigger question of the Iraqi government’s lack of sensitivity, if not outright contempt, for things Jewish.

Former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi stated to the world, as early as 2004, that the new Iraqi government would not reconcile in any way with Israel, with whom Iraq had technically been in a state of war since 1948. The current Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, reiterated the policy, pledging for his nation to establish diplomatic ties with every sovereign United Nations member state, except one – Israel.

He also announced Iraq would not have anything else to do with Israel, be it cultural, military, or economic. For good measure the prime minister’s Dawa Party went further and called on all Islamic countries to sever any and all relations with Israel.

Really? Are we back to this kind of hate-Israel- even-when-have-yourself- experienced-Arab-tyranny nonsense? But what is truly horrible is the thought that the American people gave the Iraqis their liberty only to see their government become a gang of anti-Semites.

The US should have imposed a peace treaty with Israel on Iraq from the outset. Our government spent $1 trillion and lost close to 4,500 heroic American lives liberating Iraq. We did not do it so they could be xenophobic Israel-haters. The vast majority of Americans are supporters and admirers of Israel and would be appalled to discover that a steady stream of anti-Israeli invective is seeping out of Baghdad.

When we Americans liberated Iraq we didn’t ask them for their oil and we didn’t ask to be reimbursed for the unprecedented expenditure and loss of life. But what we certainly deserve is for Iraq to embrace the universal, humanitarian values that make America exceptional. Irrational hatred of Jews and Israel is not an American value and our soldiers did not die for Iraq to become a bunch of bigots.

Read article in full

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