|Haggadah from 1902, hand-lettered and decorated by an Iraqi youth photos/u.s. national archives and records administration|
For those of you who missed it, the new Iraqi government has a new deep interest in Judaism and in all things Jewish. In 2003 American Forces discovered in Saddam Hussein's basement a treasure trove of Jewish artifacts stolen from the Jews who were either hanged or chased away in the 1940s and 1950s. The relics were under several feet of water and heavily damaged.
The collection was brought to America for restoration, but now our dear Iraqi friends, showing their great history of preserving things Jewish, demands them back. What they could want them for I have no idea, but I sense part of them wanting it, is the satisfaction that we will not have it. As Stanley Urman, executive vice president of JJAC, stated “jus ex injuria non oritur,” which in international law means that a state cannot assert legal rights to property illegally obtained. “[The materials] were seized from Jewish institutions, schools and the community. There is no justification or logic in sending these Jewish archives back to Iraq, a place that has virtually no Jews, no interest in Jewish heritage and no accessibility to Jewish scholars.”
But the theater of international diplomacy will continue unabated.