web analytics
December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Will the US Allow Iraq to Steal a Jewish Treasure?

Our government made a commitment to Iraq to return the collection once it's restored.
iraqi-jewish-artifact

I saw something amazing today. The National Archives of the United States, which houses the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, hosted an exhibition of more than 2,700 Iraqi Jewish artifacts – including Torah parchments and ancient prayer books – from a Baghdad synagogue that was looted under gunpoint by Saddam Hussein in 1984 and discovered in 2003 by U.S. troops in the basement of the Baghdad Intelligence Agency. The saving of the treasure was orchestrated by former Pentagon analyst and orthodox Jew Harold Rhode, whose name is on the metal boxes that were shipped from Baghdad but who is curiously not mentioned once in the exhibit. I’m told it’s the first time the National Archives has hosted a collection that is not native to the United States.

The United States spent approximately 3 million dollars to restore the badly molded documents and did a spectacular job. But there’s a catch. Our government made a commitment to the government of Iraq that it would return the collection once it was restored. The Iraqi Jewish community of the United States is now demanding their ownership.

Let’s be clear. This is not something that belongs to the Iraqi government. It was looted by Saddam Hussein and should be returned to its rightful owner, the Jewish community of Iraq, who now find themselves mostly in Israel (between 250,000-400,000) and the United States. That the US is even considering returning the stolen collection is incredible. Our government contends that it made a commitment to the Iraqis before they took the documents to restore them. But you can’t make any commitments about property that doesn’t belong to you so the United States is not bound by its commitment. We’ve had enough property looted and stolen from the Jewish community in recent history to condone any more, and the Jewish community in the US should organize politically and fight any attempt to return the collection.

But this just begs the bigger question of the Iraqi government’s lack of sensitivity, if not outright contempt, for things Jewish.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi stated to the world, as early as 2004, that the new Iraqi government would not reconcile in any way with Israel, with whom Iraq had technically been in a state of war since 1948. The current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reiterated the policy, pledging for his nation to establish diplomatic ties with every sovereign United Nations member state, except one – Israel. He also announced Iraq would not have anything else to do with Israel, be it cultural, military, or economic. For good measure the Prime Minister’s Dawa Party went further and called on all Islamic countries to sever any and all relations with Israel.

Really? Are we back to this kind of hate-Israel-even-when-have-yourself-experienced-Arab-tyranny nonsense?

But what is truly horrible is the thought that the American people gave the Iraqis their liberty only to see their government become a gang of anti-Semites.

The United States should have imposed a peace treaty on Iraq with Israel from the outset. Our government spent $1 trillion and lost close to 4,500 heroic American lives liberating Iraq. We did not do it so they could be xenophobic Israel-haters. The vast majority of Americans are supporters and admirers of Israel and would be appalled to discover that a steady stream of anti-Israeli invective is seeping out of Baghdad. When we Americans liberated Iraq we didn’t ask them for their oil and we didn’t’ ask to be reimbursed for the unprecedented expenditure and loss of life. But what we certainly deserve is for Iraq to embrace the universal, humanitarian values that make America exceptional. Irrational hatred of Jews and Israel is not an American value and our soldiers did not die for Iraq to become a bunch of bigots.

In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, Israel’s Jewish Agency attempted to find any Jews remaining in Iraq for the purpose of relocating them to safety in Israel. In the grand total of 34 Jews that were discovered, six left Iraq for Israel. Among that group was Ezra Levy, the father of Emad Levy, Baghdad’s last rabbi. In 2006, amidst growing sectarian violence and political instability, Emad himself left for Israel for fear of his life.

After the defeat of Saddam’s regime, the process of establishing a new democratic government began. Among the subjects for debate over the new constitution was whether Jews should be considered a minority group, or left out of the constitution altogether. With approximately five Jews left in a country that once boasted more than 120,000, most of whom left after massacres of Jews that followed the establishment of Israel in 1948, Iraq can be declared to be virtually yudenrein.

The Iraqi government seems to forget that many Jewish voices – my own included – called for the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Not because, as Protocols-of-Zion minded bigots argued that we Jews wanted to protect Israel by getting rid of Saddam. Israel at the time was probably more focused on Iran as a menace, just as it is today. Rather, we Jews live by the Biblical commandment “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” Saddam Hussein, according to even The New York Times, who opposed the American invasion, killed approximately 1.1 million people, including 800,000 Arabs, making him the single biggest murderer of Arab life in all of human history. He also gassed to death tens of thousands of children in Halabja in April, 1988. As the world’s foremost killer, he had no right to run a country.

The Iraqi government seems scarcely appreciative of the central role which Jewish voices played in their liberation. They can start by forfeiting any claim to looted Iraqi Jewish treasure which, if not for the benevolence of the United States, would have rotted in Saddam’s intelligence dungeons.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “Will the US Allow Iraq to Steal a Jewish Treasure?”

  1. Cody Flecker says:

    This is the same Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that is in bed with Obama and the rest of the anti semitic Democrats. Now he is anxious to get back Jewish artifacts from Iraq? What a joke on the readers of this fine newsletter. This Rabbi is a fraud for acting like he really cares about Jewish possessions. Let him speak to his buddy Obama, one to one; to get these artifacts back, and leave us all alone.

  2. Granny Rose says:

    you are abso correct, Shmule! Obama is helping Iran too-they just downgraded Queen Esther's tomb!

  3. Of course! We must make them feel good so they will like us.

  4. John Mccord says:

    As long as the muslim remains in the W.H.,we can expect no more

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yaron Sidman, (center) Israel's Consul General for Philadelphia and the 5 state surrounding area, spoke to a hundreds strong crowd at Adath Israel in Suburban Philadelphia, Dec. 17, 2014. State Senator Anthony Williams (left, rear), waiting to speak.
Philly Ties Har Nof Victims’ Shloshim to Hanukkah Theme of Rededication
Latest Indepth Stories
Hanukiyah created world famous Venetian Glass Blower
Maestro Gianni Toso

Let us become modern day Maccabees and seize the day. Embrace the challenge. Fight for Hashem.

Motta Gur overlooks the Old City with his troops during the Six Day War

Har HaBayit is still Biyadein; Through our actions, its fate is in our hands


What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

“Mr. Prime Minister, declare a unilateral ceasefire! Remember, Blessed is the peacemaker!”

“D-e-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n!”

Hamas is continuing to prepare its next war against Israel instead of improving conditions in Gaza

If the UN Grants national recognition to Palestine, why stop there? Tibet, Chechnya, Basque…

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/will-the-us-allow-iraq-to-steal-a-jewish-treasure/2013/12/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: