For Immediate Release Contact:
January 29, 2014 Roslyn Singer, 212-613-8227
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, commends Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for introducing Senate Resolution 333, strongly recommending the United States renegotiate the return of the Iraqi Jewish Archive to Iraq. The OU also recognizes Senators Schumer, Kirk, Cardin, Rubio, Roberts, Kaine, Boxer and Menendez for their co-sponsorship and support for this important Senate Resolution.
The Iraqi Jewish Archive is a trove of Jewish holy books and communal documents rescued from the flooded basement of Iraq’s intelligence building during the United States’ led ousting of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Archive, documenting 2,600 years of a Jewish Iraqi history, contains more than 2,700 books and other Jewish artifacts seized from oppressed Iraqi Jews and their institutions by the Hussein regime during the 1970s and 1980s. Sent to Washington, D.C., for restoration and now on display at the Smithsonian Institute, the Archive is scheduled to be returned to Iraq in June 2014 if no immediate action is taken to change the terms of the initial agreement with the Iraqi government.
Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy for the Orthodox Union voiced his personal concern: “Due to the oppressive nature of Saddam Hussein’s regime, a once thriving Iraqi Jewish community of more than 150,000 people was reduced to no more than 60 persons by the time United States and coalition forces arrived in Bagdad in 2003. While the Hussein regime is no longer in power, these restored works documenting the Iraqi Jewish community, rightfully belong to that community now living in diaspora around the world, not the oppressive country from which they fled.
The Orthodox Union thanks Senators Toomey and Blumenthal for their leadership and urges the Senate to pass this resolution in a timely manner.”