BBC skews discussion on Iraqi Jewish archive

A trunkful of documents sent to Washington for restoration (National Archives)

With thanks: Niran

Millions of listeners to the BBC’s World Service must have fallen off their chairs to hear Dia Kashi, an outspoken Iraqi Muslim, reveal that Jews have had a rich history in the region since Babylonian times. Baghdad was once a third Jewish, he said, and the Jews helped modernise Iraq. Funny that – so the Jews are not all colonisers and Khazar converts from Europe.

But BBC presenter Lyse Doucet, in her ignorance, seemed to think that the only possessions that the Jews left behind in Iraqi were their artefacts, Torah scrolls and marriage records. It fell to Dia to make clear that the Jews, who, he emphasised, were forced to leave Iraq, were also forced to leave all their property behind.

But, as we have sadly come to expect from al-Beeb, the ensuing discussion, about whether the Jewish archive rescued in 2003 from the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s secret police headquarters and taken for restoration to Washington should be returned to Iraq (documented here, here, hereand here on Point of No Return) – was skewed. Pitted against the Iraqi ambassador to Washington, pleading that the Jewish archive was Iraq‘s heritage, was Dov Zakheim, a member of the US administration. Zakheim made the curious point that digitisation of holy books was not the answer, as observant Jews would not use the internet on Shabbat!

The argument turned not on whether the archive rightfully belonged to the Jews of Iraq, but whether the US interim government had the right to remove it. “Wasn’t that stealing?” Ms Doucet almost shrieked. There was nobody there to put the argument that if anyone has been stealing, it is the Iraqi authorities.

Absent from the discussion was a representative of the Jews of Iraq themselves, who, it was furtively admitted, almost all live in Israel.

You can hear the item for the next seven days onBBC Newshour (the report starts 44 minutes into the programme). Here is the segment.

American Thinker:Iraqi Chutzpa

Washington Post

Jewish Chronicle article

Soccer Dad blog (with thanks: Eliyahu)

JTA article


  • Eliyahu you are right – in print Dov Zakheim's message was unequivocal, but on the BBC programme he was forced on to the back foot into defending the actions of the US interim government under Paul Bremer.

  • The Soccer Dad blog goes on about this issue:

    According to this blog article, Zakheim clearly indicated that the archives belong to the Iraqi Jews.

    Dov. S. Zakheim, a senior Pentagon official in the George W. Bush administration, is opposed to sending the materials back to Iraq. "I have no sympathy for a government which stole it from the rightful owners and then a successor government saying it belongs to them," he said.

  • BBC skews ________________ (fill in blank). Gee, what else is new?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.