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A Bully, a Treasure, and the Right Thing – Iraqi Jewish Archive

A Bully, a Treasure, and the Right Thing – Iraqi Jewish Archive

February 16th, 2014
Iraqi Jewish Archives



Imagine yourself looking from the window of a high-rise building and seeing a bully begin to pick on someone passing by on the sidewalk, someone carrying books with him. The bully taunts, intimidates, and slaps the passerby. With one swipe he knocks the books from their owner’s arms and then he begins to cruelly beat the man, who finally escapes and flees for his life.

As you stand looking from your window, the bully grabs the plundered books and walks away down the sidewalk. Carried carelessly, the books slide from his hold and tumble into a filthy puddle. From another direction, someone comes to the rescue, picking up the soggy books and assuring the unknown thief that the books can be salvaged and he will gladly do it for him.

As you watch the kind stranger, alone now with the books, you notice his behavior. At first he handles the books as if they are any others, but then, with mouth gaping open he examines them, gently turning pages. What he holds must be some kind of treasure. Indeed, they are books that have been in the victim’s family for generations and that were passed down to him from his grandfather. The rescuer takes the books home, dries them out, and cleans them up.

The story of the Jewish community in Basra, Iraq, published in Baghdad, 1905 or 1906. Source: US National Archives

With the treasures all clean and restored now, to whom would you want the books returned?

On the street one day you see the rescuer with the books. Following his gaze you see the bully ahead and realize the books are about to be returned, not to the one whose family heritage they represent, but to the bully who stole them.

Understanding the whole story, you would want to intervene and shout, “Wait! They don’t belong to him! He stole them! Give them back to the one who had them violently taken from him! Give them back to their rightful owner!”

The Iraqi Jewish Archive

At one time Baghdad, Iraq had a thriving Jewish population. Over the decades Anti-Semitism drove them out through violent dispossessions. The synagogue in Baghdad became home to many artifacts of immeasurable historical value belonging to Jewish People who fled. In 1985 Saddam Hussein looted these treasures. In 2003, the US military discovered them in a flooded basement of the Secret Police and brought them to the States for restoration. Virtually no Jewish People remain in Iraq and the government is still officially at war with Israel. This collection is scheduled for return, not to the Jewish People who owned the artifacts, but to the nation that stole them. This is wrong historically, legally, and morally.



A Hebrew commentary of the Book of Psalms, published in Jerusalem, 1912 or 1913. Source: US National Archives.]

Can you imagine the injustice if all the belongings of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust were given over to the German government who looted them in the first place? Not only looted them, but brutally treated and murdered the Jewish People to whom they belonged! “It must not be so” was said then and it should be said now.

An affront and a dishonor
The return of these artifacts of Jewish history to Iraq rather than the Jewish People “would dishonor every one of the Jews who were cruelly driven from their homeland.” (Cynthia Kaplan Shamash, World Organization of Jews From Iraq, Jerusalem Post, 11/15/13)

YOU can do something to stop it!

We are seeking 25,000 signatures on a petition asking the US government to reverse their decision and return these valuable Jewish archives to their rightful owners instead of to the Iraqi government. Let us rise up with a collective voice and shout, “Wait! They don’t belong to them! Give them back to their rightful owners!”

That is what this petition is about – speaking up for the one whose property was forcibly stolen. Signing this petition is about urging the US government to do the right thing and return the precious Iraqi Jewish Archive to the Jewish People, not to Iraq who despises Israel.

Please add your voice today and speak out for the right thing. Please sign the petition today

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For more about Jewish Voice Ministries and the various ways we are a voice to and for the Jewish People, visit our website,
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  1. Pingback: Discoverer says archive should not return to Iraq Rescue Jewish Property

  2. Brenda J. Vicha says:

    MAY OUR GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU AND MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU. I am standing with you and praying for you.

    • says:

      Hi Brenda, Thank you for your comment. You can help us in our efforts to see that the Iraqi Jewish Archive is returned to the Jewish People. Please invite your friends to sign our petition and help us reach 25,000 signatures to submit to the US State Department. Thank you and shalom!

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