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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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