Iraqi Propaganda Minister Yusef Goebbels Demands Return Of Iraqi Jewish Archives

The Con

The Iraqi Jewish community dates from the times of the Babylonia Exile circa the 6th Century BCE. Iraqi Jewish history is rich and, arguably, the most significant in the Diaspora.

The Jews in Iraq created the Babylonian Talmud (the Book of Commentary on Jewish Law), preserved Greek and Latin texts from as far back as the Alexandrian Age and re-established communication with the Jews in Europe. The Islamic Caliph’s relied on the Jews as their emissaries to European Royal Courts.

Of course, the Jews were still required to pay the jihza, (a required tax levied on infidels living in Islamic controlled lands, required by the Koran.) and to wear a special badge identifying themselves as Jews. Aside from these indignities and the occasional anti-Semitic inspired murder of thousands, the Iraqi Jews were treated rather well – by Nazi Germany standards.

When the Zionist Movement took hold in the late 19th Century, a fresh campaign of anti-Semitic violence began in Iraq culminating with the expulsion of the Jews in 1950, 1951 and 1970. Currently, there are 7 or 8 Jews living in Baghdad. This number may include the 3 US Army Chaplains currently billeted in the country.

With all this in mind, this headline in the Washington Post caught my eye.

Iraq demands return of its Jewish archive

It seems the invading US Army is now in control of the archives of one of this now all but extinct Jewish community and Iraq wants these antiquities back.

The soldiers came looking for weapons of mass destruction. What they found in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s secret police headquarters was a legacy of destruction — the demise of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.

There was a treasure trove of Torahs and Haggadas, centuries old. And there were marriage records, university applications, financial documents — the living record of a community, seized by the Mukhabarat from the homes of Jews as they fled Iraq under pressure and amid persecution, with only a handful remaining.

Now comes the historical conundrum: Who owns these materials?

In the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, the thousands of sodden documents were spirited out of the country with an assist from then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s office and a vague promise of their return once they had been restored. With the materials still sitting in a College Park office building, stabilized but with mold on them, the Iraqi government is demanding that they be shipped back, saying they are the property of the Iraqi people.

“They represent part of our history and part of our identity. There was a Jewish community in Iraq for 2,500 years,” said Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “It is time for our property to be repatriated.”

There is no word from the Iraqi government if they intend to apologize and offer to repatriate the Jews they threw out of their country in the middle of the 20th Century.

In other news, Yusef Goebbels was just named the new Iraqi Minister of Propaganda.

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