Sen. Chuck Schumer: Iraqi archive belongs to Jewish community

( Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to stop the State Department from returning 2,700 Jewish books and ancient documents to Iraq. Sixteen American soldiers recovered the books during the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003. The Iraqi Jewish community, however, says the Saddam Hussein government originally confiscated the materials from a synagogue in 1984. 

Displaced Iraqi Jews arrive in Israel, 1951. Credit: CAMERA via Wikimedia Commons.

“This treasured collection belongs to the Jewish community and should be made available to them,” Schumer said, according to the New York Daily News , adding that since the exile of Jews from Iraq virtually no Jewish life remains in the country.”

The collection includes a 1793 Babylonian Talmud and a Zohar from 1815. Since its arrival in the U.S., the collection has been stored and restored in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. Twenty-four pieces have been on display since Oct. 11.

The State Department plans to return the archive to the Iraqi government, in line with a written agreement between the two governments. 

Posted on October 24, 2013 .