Iraq rejects US offer to restore half of seized Jewish Archive: report

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-7-15 18:44:06

Iraq rejected an offer made by the United States to bring back half of the Iraqi Jewish Archive previously transferred from Baghdad to the US after 2003, insisting that Iraq should restore the whole Archive, an Iraqi official newspaper reported on Sunday.

"The (Tourism and Antiquities) minister Lewa' Smeisim refused an American offer to give back half of the Jewish Archive to Iraq, on condition that Iraq will concede its right of possessing the remaining half," the state-run al-Sabah newspaper quoted Smeisim's chief media office Hakim al-Shammari as saying.

Al-Shammari said that the minister reiterated his demand that Iraq wants to restore the whole Jewish Archive which was transferred from Iraq by US forces to the United States after 2003 for maintenance, as "it (referring to the Archive) is part of the Iraqi heritage."

On June 11, Smeisim said that Iraq received reliable information saying that the Americans had transferred the Iraqi Jewish Archive to Israel, in addition to some 1,000 Iraqi antiquities.

Such information angered Iraqi archeologists, annoyed the country's officials and pushed the authorities to halt cultural cooperation with the United States and accused it of looting thousands of Iraqi antiquities.

"The (Tourism and Antiquities) ministry recently suspended cooperation with the American universities and their excavation missions in the country," Smeisim said.

"We want the American side to provide us with full inventory of smuggled Iraqi antiquities since 2003, including the Iraqi Jewish Archive which the Americans claimed they took for maintenance," Smeisim added.

Earlier, the Americans said that the Iraqi Jewish Archive of books, manuscripts, records and other materials, was found soaking in sewage water at a basement of a Saddam Hussein's secret police building, and was rescued by some US troops after the collapse of Hussein's regime.

The Archive includes centuries-old Torahs, Jewish religious book published in 1568, marriage records, university applications, financial documents and other documents in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The Archive is a living record of what was once one of the largest Jewish communities in the Middle East, who lived in Mesopotamia since the sixth century B.C., before almost all of them left for Israel in mid of the 20th century.

The Archive was sent to Washington for maintenance and the Americans promised the Iraqi authorities to bring it back, but the Iraqis said it seems that the Americans handed it over to the Jewish state of Israel.

Posted in: Mid-East

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