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Will the Iraqi Jewish archive be off-limits to Jews?

The restored Iraqi Jewish archive may soon leave the United States for Baghdad, making this piece of Jewish heritage almost inaccessible to Jews.
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“Jews have lived in Iraq for thousands of years. As with every other community in Iraq, they played a crucial role in building our country and contributing to our culture.” This surprising statement was published Feb. 3 in an open letter from Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States.

Faily is referring to the Iraqi Jewish archive, which was found by US Marines in 2003 in one of the cellars of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s General Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat). The cellar was partially flooded, and hundreds of the crates that it contained were rotting, but the US forces immediately realized that they had stumbled across a real treasure trove, which it turned out included ancient pieces of Judaica, holy books, documents and photographs depicting the life of the Jewish community in Baghdad. This community lived in the now-Muslim-dominated society for thousands of years while taking care to preserve its Jewish character, culture and religion.

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