October 31, 2010
A propaganda pamphlet written by Saddam Hussein‘s uncle and published in 1981 summed up the dictator’s attitude toward Jews: It’s titled “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews and Flies.”
Under Hussein, the anti-Semitic Iraqi regime confiscated property and imprisoned and attacked Jews, all but eliminating the remains of what was once a thriving community.
Thousands fled, mostly to Israel and the United States, leaving Baghdad’s Jewish quarter nearly empty, its masonry crumbling and its Stars of David dimmed by dust and time. Today, fewer than 10 Jews remain, and they keep a low profile, refusing to meet with outsiders.
But now a trove of rare Jewish books has ignited a battle between Iraqis who want to claim Judaism as part of Iraq’s history and members of the Iraqi Diaspora who balk at entrusting their heritage to a country still more at war than at peace and where hostility to Jews remains widespread.
In the wake of the 2003 invasion, U.S. forces found a collection of confiscated antique Torahs, rabbinical Bibles and other documents in Baghdad. American authorities shipped them to Washington, where they remain.
Saad Eskander, the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive, says the collection belongs in Iraq. He said he was negotiating with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, but if those talks failed, he would probably work with international organizations to take the case to U.S. courts.
“Jews are Iraq’s oldest community. They are a significant part of the history of establishing Iraq,” said Eskander, who helped rebuild the National Library after it was reduced to rubble by fighting and looting.
Jewish groups in America and Israel, however, have raised concerns about the safety of the collection if it were returned to Iraq…
October 31, 2010
This image has been posted with express written permission. This cartoon was originally published at Town Hall.