Urge Congress to Keep the Iraqi Jewish Archives Safe!

Write to your Senators today!

What you need to know: 

  • In 1948, the personal and communal possessions of thousands of Iraqi Jewish citizens were seized as the Jews were persecuted and then expelled by the Iraqi government in reaction to the formation of the Jewish State of Israel. They were forced to give up their citizenship, belongings, and to flee their homes. 
  • However, years later, when the heroic United States Army was stationed in Iraq in 2003, they discovered an archive of effects of Jewish Iraqi heritage, a signal that the exiled people may possibly be united with a fraction of what had been stolen from them. The archival effects had been left decomposing, uncared for, neglected and destroyed. 
  • After an agreement in 2003 between the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority and the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the US State Department took the archive into custody and the NARA set to work to restore the collection of effects.

The archives, after much devoted and skillful attention, were greatly improved, proof of what was the dynamic and living Jewish culture that had existed in Iraq in the past.

  • While the Iraqi government, as per the agreement, has demanded back the effects, and has indicated that the archive will be exhibited in Iraq, realistically, the possibility of Iraqi Jews ever being allowed to return to see it is slim, if nonexistent.

S. Res. 577 is a resolution that strongly recommends that the US renegotiate the return of the Iraqi Jewish archives to Iraq. 

We believe that since the Iraqi regime confiscated these artifacts, and mistreated and desecrated them, which led to their almost complete deterioration, it is hard to believe that the property of the Iraqi Jewish community would be properly preserved. The Iraqi Jewish community in the US is the constituency of the archive, and is now represented by the Diaspora outside Iraq. 

US taxpayers invested $3 million to restore the Iraqi Jewish archive and NARA has worked diligently to preserve it. 

We strongly urge that the State Department renegotiate with Iraq the current agreement. We believe this archive should be housed in a location that is accessible to scholars, and to Iraqi Jews and their descendants. It is important that the US reaffirm its commitment justice for victims of ethnic and religious persecution, and the restoration of their stolen property.

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