This morning, C.I. had an entry ("Iraq and the things that make no sense") that noted the development and I called her late this evening to ask if she could include something on that in the snapshot. She told me she could just have it copied and pasted into the snapshot but did not have time to write any more and that was more than okay with me.
The issue is an ancient Hebrew scroll, a Torah. And Israel has it now. Iraq is insisting that they have claim to it. They do not where it came from but they just know it belongs to them. David E. Miller (Arab News) reports:
Israel's Arutz Sheva reported that the ancient scroll, written in the early twentieth century, was extracted from Iraq after the Gabbai family in the Iraqi city of Al-Hila bribed a local official. The family patriarch, Moshe Gabbai, worked in the town's synagogue.
The scroll was then donated by the family to the Center for the Heritage of Babylon Jewry in the Israeli city of Or-Yehuda.
The scroll does not belong to Iraq, the scroll is not about Iraq. It is the Jewish people's scroll. Israel has it and in Israel's hands it should remain. I am not saying that the Israeli government speaks for all Jews. I am saying that Jews around the world know Israel is supposed to be a Jewish homeland.
I do not support the scroll's return, I will not support it.
The Jewish population in Iraq is non-existent after non-stop targeting of Iraqi Jews throughout the illegal war. There is no Jewish population and the Iraqi government has no claim to a religious scroll. This is no different, to me, than a government claiming to have the rights to some artifact of the Comanches or another tribe. A tribe's belongings belong to the members of that tribe. In no shape or form do the Jewish artifacts belong to the government of Iraq.
I know it is very easy to bash Jewish people and I know it is even fashionable these days. I doubt many will stick up for the right of the Jews to possess their own culture artifacts. I am very glad that C.I. did stick up this morning and that she included it in the snapshot. I will join her in that public call for the scroll to remain in Israel. I hope others will as well; however, I doubt that will happen. (And I am not speaking of this community. I know this community will support the call. I am speaking outside our online community.)
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
But as the respected Iraq analyst Anthony Cordesman has pointed out in a recent post for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 'The Iraq War is not over and it is not 'won'."
There have been numerous security challenges that continue to exist, and I'm sure you all saw the horrific news this morning, this suicide bombing in front of a military installation in which scores of people were killed. So Iraq, I think, as I've often said, offers no refuge for those in need of instant gratification. It requires you to stay at it. But I do believe that there's some real progress there. As we speak, major oil companies are beginning to actually put drill bits in the ground. Iraq will, I think, emerge as one of the major oil producers of the world. It will have significance for really the rest of the world. I think that part of the picture is really coming into focus and I think the Iraqis are really making some progress.
No. This has none of the complexities of the earlier call by the Iraqi government for Jewish documents. In the earlier case, the US, after the 2003 invasion, had discovered a large number of records that were kept by the Iraqi government on Jews in Iraq -- it was spying on them. They brought the records back to the US to preserve them -- they had been submerged in water when the US found them. Iraq demanded them back. The dispute was between Iraq and the US, between the occupied and the occupier. As I noted at Third, I was surprised the Israeli government did not step in on that. If they had and had made a claim on the documents, there would have been reasons to dispute claims. However, the US was the occupier and the documents were taken out of the country.
Iraq felt no need to protect the Jewish citizens from targeting by various thugs since the invasion began. The Jewish population was targeted and was wiped out either by violence or by fleeing. To now assert that they have some right to Hebrew artifacts? They have no right. Nor do they or did they ever belong to Iraq. Whose culture was it? And since when can a nation-state, developed centuries later, attempt to lay claim to the people's property?
These are not documents that the Iraqi government kept. Even now the Tourism Ministry can't state whether it was ever in the government's possession, whether it was privately owned by someone in Iraq or whether it belonged to a Jewish facility in Iraq (as many as 100,000 Jewish people were living in Iraq as late as the 1940s). These are religious artifacts and they belong to the people of that religion. The scroll is in Israel and in Israel is where it should remain. Iraq did not protect the Jewish population, it allowed it to be decimated. It has no claim or right to the scroll.
Iraq is created in 1932. The scroll predates the creation of the country by centuries. Having no Jewish population today, the fact that they would even assert a right to the scroll is rather offensive. And that's before you even wiegh into consideration the fact that Iraq's unable to keep their treasures, artifacts and museums open to the public.
Again, when the issue of the US having Iraqi government records on Jewish people arose, I did not weigh in with an opinion. That was an occupier/occupied issue and, with Israel making no claim to the records, it was a rather straight forward issue. This one's rather straight forward as well but not to Iraq's benefit.