Iraq’s Jewish archive has not been smuggled: U.S. official
An official from the U.S. Foreign Ministry has denied allegation that Iraq’s Jewish archive has been smuggled outside the United State to Israel, the Iraqi media reported on this week.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Jones told Al Sumaria News on Monday that the archive has not been smuggled and it is in the United States to be “restored and photographed.”
Allegations the archive has been transferred outside the United States surfaced in June, when Iraq’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Lewa Smeisim told the state-run Sabah newspaper that Iraq had received information indicating it was in Israel.
Smeisim reportedly alleged that in addition to the Jewish archive, some 1,000 Iraqi antiquities had been transferred for exhibition in Israel.
In her Monday television interview, Jones said that Iraq had requested the archive back, and that the U.S. was making good efforts to return looted artifacts to the country.
Cultural artifacts are a sensitive issue in Iraq. Following the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003, when looting and chaos broke out in the country, museums were robbed and thousands of items chronicling some 7,000 years of civilization in Mesopotamia were taken.
In 2010, Iraq’s Ministry of Culture made an agreement with the U.S. for the return of Baath party and the Jewish archives and millions of other documents that were taken from Iraq in 2003.
But while the U.S. has previously made an offer to Iraq to send half of the country’s Jewish archive, Iraq rejected the move, demanding the full return of all of it.
Jones described the process of photographing the document as “complicated,” alluding to the need for a longer time to return the whole complete archive back to Iraq.