Letters to the Editor

Preserving Iraqi Jewish antiquities

Re the Oct. 22 opinion column, “The history of Iraqi Jews is in peril:” When the U.S. military captured Saddam Hussein’s palace, they discovered a cache of priceless stolen Iraqi Jewish artifacts. These artifacts have been carefully preserved and restored by the U.S.A. These artifacts represent some of the 2,000-year history of Jews in Iraq.

According to an agreement made by the Obama administration’s State Department, these treasures would be returned to the Iraqi government in 2018.

It is no secret that in that part of the world, items related to religions other than Islam are in danger of being desecrated and destroyed. To return these religious artifacts to the Iraqis seems, to me, a gross miscarriage of justice.

The history of the Jews in Iraq goes back to Biblical days. Israel’s ancient eternal capitol, Jerusalem, was conquered by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians 700 years before Christ. The Jews of Israel were carried off to captivity in Iraq (Babylon) and thereafter dispersed to Arabia, North Africa, and the rest of the world.

Where hundreds of thousands of Jews once lived in all of those areas, now a paltry handful remain. Who would safeguard these precious Jewish artifacts in a Muslim government hostile to Jews?

Many irreplaceable sacred Torah scrolls are among those items created by that once-thriving Jewish community. They are of historical and religious importance to the entire Jewish community and to the rest of Western Civilization.

Pressure should be brought to bear on the Trump administration’s State Department to prevent their return to the Iraq government and to potential destruction. They belong to the greater Jewish community and must be preserved.

I would ask your readers to contact their Congressman or woman and ask them to prevent the return of these stolen artifacts to the Iraqis.

Robert E Pickard, Miami

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