One-stop blog on Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries and the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees, updated daily
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Archive exhibit to open in California
The oldest item in the Archive exhibit, a Bible printed in Venice in 1568
The 'Discovery and Recovery' exhibition of highlights of the Iraqi Jewish Archive will open in the autumn of 2015 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba, California.
State Department funding for this and three other exhibitions has been been approved, the World Organisation of Jews from Iraq has announced.
In view of the large number of Jews living in the Los Angeles area, California was the 'next logical venue' for the exhibit, according to WOJI. Last year the IJA exhibit was shown at the National Archives building in Washington DC and then at the Museum of Jewish history in New York City. The latter museum funded the exhibit itself. Members of the Los Angeles Jewish community, together with a US government agency, had failed to persuade two Jewish institutions - the Skirball Cultural Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance - to host the next exhibit, although the State Department would have covered all expenses. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library, an hour's drive from the Kahal Joseph Sephardic congregation in LA, is re-adjusting its programmes in order to show the IJA exhibit. The IJA was due to return to Iraq in the summer of 2014, but the State Department negotiated a two-year extension to the agreement with the Iraqi government, although unspecified items were due to go back.
The Archive - a collection of documents and books confiscated from Iraqi Jews by the Saddam regime - was shipped to the US for restoration by the National Archives and Records Administration. The project took 10 years, but Iraqi Jews in the US have argued that the archive belongs to them and not to Iraq, and should never go back.
In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been 'ethnically cleansed' from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, where some 50 percent of the Jewish population descend from these refugees and are now full citizens, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people. This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, which can never return to what and where they once were - even if they wanted to. It will attempt to pass on the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution. Awareness of the injustice done to these Jews can only advance the cause of peace and reconciliation. (Iran: once an ally of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now an implacable enemy and numbers of Iranian Jews have fallen drastically from 80,000 to 20,000 since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Their plight - and that of all other communities threatened by Islamism - does therefore fall within the scope of this blog.)