US National Archives readies a trove of Iraqi Jewish treasures for return to Iraq

The government of Iraq has been adamant about retrieving a trove of Jewish documents and books assembled by Iraqi intelligence before 2003. After the US invasion of Iraq, the US sent this material stateside for safekeeping and preservation.

The “repatriation” of this material to Iraq seems absurd, as no Jews remain there, and the Iraqi state has yet to compensate any Iraqi Jews or their descendants for expropriated property. But technically it’s “cultural property” taken in a war, and the Iraqis have insisted that if it isn’t returned, American archaeologists will lose access to Iraqi sites.

Left: A book from Livorno, Italy, from 1814, with hand-drawn figures