Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Did the U.S. Really Offer Half of the Iraqi Jewish Archives to Iraq?

Following up on recent Iraqi allegations that the U.S. refuses to return the Iraqi Jewish archives to Iraq (and even charges that the U.S. has sold a portion of the archives to Israel), there are now new allegations coming from the Iraqi Minister of Tourism that he has rejected an offer from the United States to return half of the Iraqi Jewish archives to Iraq provided that the Iraqis agree not to claim the remaining portion of the archives (see hereherehere, and here - the original Arabic article in Al-Sabah on which the other reports are based is here).

The State Department did provide one earlier denial (stating that the Iraqi Jewish archives were in the "temporary custody" of NARA and that "all the material will return to Iraq at the conclusion of the [conservation] project"). Otherwise, however, the U.S. has not been actively rebutting the steady flow of questionable allegations from the Iraqi Minister of Tourism, which has reportedly had the not insignificant consequence of Iraq suspending cooperation with U.S. archaeological teams (see here and here).

I asked public affairs at both NARA and the State Department for comment on these most recent allegations, but have not received a response from either.