A trove of Jewish books and other materials, rescued from a sewage-filled Baghdad basement during the 2003 invasion, is now caught up in a tug-of-war between the U.S. and Iraq.
Ranging from a medieval religious book to children’s Hebrew primers, from photos to Torah cases, the collection is testimony to a once vibrant Jewish community in Baghdad. Their present-day context is the relationship, fraught with distrust, between postwar Iraq and its Jewish diaspora.
Discovered in a basement used by Saddam Hussein’s secret police, the collection was sent to the U.S. for safekeeping and restoration, and sat at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Maryland until last year, when Iraqi officials started a campaign to get it back.
See Also: The Iraqi Jewish Archive Preservation Report (October 2, 2003; Middle East Librarians Association Committee on Iraqi Libraries and The National Archives & Records Administration