‘Archive must be accessible to its heirs’

Senator Schumer, the US Senator who spearheaded a campaign  for the Iraqi-Jewish archive not to be sent back to Iraq, has applauded the agreement extending the collection’s stay in the US. However, the matter does not rest there. The archive must be accessible indefinitely to its owners, the Iraqi Jews, he said.

Schumer today applauded the decision to keep the collection in the U.S. until a permanent location in the U.S. is determined.

 “I
applaud the decision to permit the Iraqi Jewish Archive to remain in
the U.S. until a permanent location is found. However, we will not rest
until the collection is made accessible to the Iraqi Jewish community
indefinitely,” said Schumer.

“These sacred and treasured artifacts were
taken from the Iraqi Jewish community during a time of state-condoned
discrimination, and this community should have access to the precious
possessions they were forced to leave behind.”

“I
must convey the heartfelt sentiment of WOJI – to the US and Iraqi
governments for reaching an agreement under which the Iraqi Jewish
Archive will remain in the United States for the foreseeable future. It
is WOJI’s fervent conviction that we, the Iraqi Jewish community, are
the rightful heirs of the Iraqi Jewish Archive, our precious patrimony,”
said Maurice Shohet, Chairman of the World Organization of Jews from
Iraq (WOJI).

Read statement in full

The UK Jewish Chronicle reports: 

Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador in the US, said: “I am pleased to
announce that, in order to continue this important work and to allow the
exhibit to be displayed in other cities in the United States, the
government of Iraq has authorised me to extend the period which the
exhibit may remain in the US.

“We consider the history of Jewish communities in Iraq to be an
integral part of the history of our country — one that we honor and
cherish — and nothing can erase this history, nor change our commitment
to preserving its memory.”

Maurice Shohet, president of the World Organisation of Jews from Iraq
(WOJI), who is based in New York, said: “WOJI will now work with all
sides concerned to have the IJA Exhibit travel to other American
museums, besides Washington, DC and New York, in the coming months, and
hopefully to other cities in the west, where there is large Iraqi Jewish
communities such as Montreal and London.”

But London-based Lyn Julius, co-founder of Harif, a UK group that
represents Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, said: “This is a
welcome development. However, the agreement only provides for an
extension, it does not unequivocally establish the archive’s ownership,
nor its final destination.

“We must continue to insist on the principle that this archive does
not belong to Iraq, but to the exiled Iraqi-Jewish community from whom
it was brutally and unlawfully seized.”

Read article in full

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