Last Friday, JTA reported that the State Department intends to abide by an agreement it reached in 2014 with the Iraqi government and return the Iraqi Jewish archives to Iraq next year.
The Iraqi Jewish archives were rescued in Baghdad by US forces in 2003 from a flooded basement of the Iraqi secret services headquarters. The tens of thousands of documents include everything from sacred texts from as early as the 16th century to Jewish school records.
The books and documents were looted from the Iraqi Jewish community by successive Iraqi regimes. They were restored by the National Archives in Washington, DC.
The Iraqi Jewish community was one of the oldest exilic Jewish communities.
Between 1948 and 1951, 130,000 Iraqi Jews, three quarters of the community, were forced to flee the country. Those who remained faced massive persecution, imprisonment, torture, execution and expulsion in the succeeding decades.
When US forces overthrew the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, only a dozen or so remained in the country.
And today? a big fat zero.
When asked how the US could guarantee that the archive would be properly cared for in Iraq, all State Department spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said was, “When the IJA [Iraqi Jewish archive] is returned, the State Department will urge the Iraqi government to take the proper steps necessary to preserve the archive, and make it available to members of the public to enjoy.”
Members of the public, yes. Jews, no. Because, remember, there aren’t any Jews left. I can’t imagine Iraqi Arabs queuing politely in their masses to view the archives. They’d be more likely to smash the doors down in order to burn the contents. Yet another example of State Department perfidy. The denizens of Foggy Bottom seem unable, or unwilling, to dispel the mists of antisemitism that have enveloped the department for decades. Indeed, they appear to revel in it.