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U.S. Resolution to Return Jewish Treasures to Rightful Owners Gains Support

February 14th, 2014 | by
U.S. Resolution to Return Jewish Treasures to Rightful Owners Gains Support
Iraqi Jewish Archives

Should the U.S. State Department follow through with its 2003 agreement to return priceless Jewish treasures to the Iraqi government that were forcibly seized from fleeing Iraqi Jews during Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror on that troubled nation? Or should they be returned to their rightful owners who now live in diaspora around the world?

Momentum increased this week to re-evaluate the original agreement between the U.S. and the Coalition Provisional Authority, which administered Iraq at the time. U.S. Senate Resolution 333 is a legislative effort to respond to an appeal from the organized Jewish Community in general, and specifically, the Jews of Iraqi descent to return the collection of historical relics by U.S. Army personnel to them—and not to the Iraqi government as originally agreed.

The resolution, expected to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, requests that the State Department return items to reaffirm its “commitment to cultural property under international law” and its “commitment to ensuring justice for victims of ethnic and religious persecution,” according to a document released today by

The cache of invaluable treasures was found in the flooded basement of the Iraqi secret police headquarters in Mukhabarat. Although much of the collection was damaged beyond repair, some has been salvaged and restored. A collection of 24 pieces has been organized by the U.S. National Archives and is on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City until May 8, following a Washington, DC exhibit displayed from October 11, 2013 through January 5, 2014.

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