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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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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

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.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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