Tourism ministry fought demolition of Heskel House

Update to the update: official confirmation has come of the demolition, which Iraqi intellectuals have greeted with dismay.


What is left of Sasson Heskel’s house. This video clip records what the building looked like (from 4:45 minutes).

 Update: Point of No Return has seen conclusive video footage that the house of Sir Sasson Heskel has been demolished after all, contrary to what this Times of Israel article suggests. However, the piece points to an interesting clash between  Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, which wanted to preserve the site, while the Baghdad municipality decided to pull the building down.  Too late now. (With thanks: Imre):

The
Baghdad municipality announced Friday it would demolish and then give
to a developer the 100-year-old home of Iraq’s first finance minister,
Sir Sassoon Eskell, while an official in Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and
Antiquities slammed the decision as a “violation” of the law.

 Sir Sasson Eskell (Heskel), Iraq’s well-regarded first finance minister

Eskell,
who was born into an aristocratic Baghdadi Jewish family in 1860, was
instrumental in founding the Iraqi government’s laws and financial
infrastructure.

The
municipality of the Iraqi capital said in the press release that
Eskell’s home “is not a heritage site according to the book of the
heritage department,” the Iraqi site Assabah al-Jadeed reported
Saturday.

“The
home was constructed 100 years ago on Rashid Street, in central
Baghdad, and is presently granted to a citizen to invest in,” the
statement continued, stressing that “the investment is done in
accordance with the law.”

Sa’id Hamza, head of the investigation department of heritage sites
within the ministry, accused the municipality of “violating the law” by
giving away Eskell’s home for investment.

“Who
in Baghdad’s municipality considered the home to not be a heritage
site?” he reportedly wondered, suggesting there may have been
corruption.

Hamza
added that Eskell’s home is composed of two parts: one that is meant to
be handed over to the Finance Ministry, and another that is supposed to
be returned to his grandson Albert Sassoon Eskell. (Sasson Eskell never married – ‘grand nephew’? – ed)

Read article in full

One Comment

  • That would be remarkable the first asset repatriated to an imaginary person… Sounds like there's someone in Iraq changing their name right now!

    Reply

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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.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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