Bipartisan Charge To Return Iraqi Jewish Artifacts to Community, Not Government

Books, Photos, Texts, Found in 2003 On Display in Washington

Bipartisan Effort: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Steve Israel are leading a bipartisan charge to return Iraqi Jewish artifacts to the community.
Getty Images
Bipartisan Effort: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Steve Israel are leading a bipartisan charge to return Iraqi Jewish artifacts to the community.

By JTA

Published October 24, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Some Congress members are working to ensure that Iraqi Jewish artifacts now on display in Washington are returned directly to the Iraqi Jewish community and not the government.

Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) are leading the bipartisan effort to return the thousands of books, photos, texts and other materials that were found by the U.S. and coalition forces in 2003. They were brought to the United States to be restored and were digitalized.

Many Iraqi Jews were forced out of their country and are living in the U.S.

The artifacts had been submerged in water at the late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s flooded secret police building. The collection is supposed to be sent back to Iraq next spring.

Reps. Israel and Ros-Lehtinen wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stating that the Iraqi government has no legitimate claim to the artifacts.

“We firmly believe that these items should be returned to the descendants of the Iraqi Jewish community, who still mourn the loss of these priceless reminders of their former lives in Iraq,” they wrote.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also is involved in the effort.

Ros-Lehtinen said it “would be criminal for the U.S. government to be complicit in denying the Jewish community what is rightfully theirs.”

The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English dating from 1540 to the 1970s. Some of the items are on display at the National Archives through Jan. 5.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.