Orthodox Union Welcomes Extension of Iraqi Jewish Archives in the United States


For Immediate Release                                                             Contact:

May 14, 2014                                                                          Roslyn Singer, 212-613-8227

 

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – welcomed the statement of the Government of Iraq, made through its Ambassador in Washington, DC, of its intention to “extend the period which the [Iraqi Jewish Archive] Exhibit may remain in the United States.”

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 Saddam Hussein regime during the 1970s and 1980s. Sent to Washington, D.C. for restoration and recently on display at the National Archives in Washington and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, the Archive was scheduled to be returned to Iraq in June 2014 if no extension agreement was reached between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.

Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy, issued the following statement today in response to the Iraqi Ambassador’s announcement:

“We welcome the statement of Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Lukman Faily indicating that, pending technical details being finalized in the coming days, most of the materials associated with the Iraqi Jewish Archives will remain in the United States for a further period of time.  We are grateful to the senior Obama Administration officials, at The White House and State Department, as well as concerned Members of Congress with whom we have engaged on this issue for this encouraging development.  The historical and religious value of the Iraqi Jewish Archive materials compel us to ensure that the Archive should remain in the United States where it will be easily accessible to all, particularly the Iraqi Jewish community now living in diaspora around the world.  We will continue to advocate for an appropriate long term solution for these materials.”

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The Orthodox Union is the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization; the OU Advocacy Center, formerly the Institute for Public Affairs, is the non-partisan public policy arm of the OU and leads its advocacy efforts in Washington, DC and state capitals.