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Iraq’s Historic Archive Is Subject of Tug-of-War

March 20, 2014 By:
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The Kol Bo book from the 1540's, one of the Iraqi Jewish documents being conserved
WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department is seeking avenues to make the Iraqi Jewish Archive continually accessible to Iraqi Jews living outside the country.
Until now, the State Department had been adamant that the archive, transferred to the United States for expert restoration, be returned to Iraq in June.
A statement on March 17 by the State Department’s press office said the “sensitivities” surrounding the archive were spurring the department to seek alternatives.
A number of Jewish groups have joined an array of lawmakers in Congress in demanding that the archives remain outside Iraq, in the custody of one of the major Iraqi Jewish Diasporas, in Britain, Israel or the United States.
They say the Iraqi government now in place is not sympathetic to Jewish interests and would not make it easily available.
Iraqi agents under Saddam Hussein had looted many of the articles after the dictator had driven the remnants of the Jewish community out of the country in a terror campaign.
Under an agreement with the Coalition Provisional Authority that had governed Iraq, the materials were sent to the United States.
Here, a group of experts, led by a National Archives team, restored them.
The archive is now on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

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