Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Edward Peck on the Iraqi Jewish Archive

PRESS TV (IRAN) interviews Edward Peck, "former US chief of the mission in Iraq" (in the Carter Administration), about the Iraqi Jewish Archive: US should send back Iraqi antique and historical treasures: Analyst.
Iraq says it wants back all the archeological treasures, stolen by US forces in 2003, but Washington has offered to return only half.

Iraq rejected the offer made by the United States to bring back half of the Iraqi Jewish Archive, previously transferred from Baghdad to the United States during the US-led invasion of the country, insisting that Baghdad had to restore the whole archive.

The archive includes centuries-old Torah scrolls and plenty of other documents in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

Last month Iraqi media reported that America has transferred Iraqi antiquities to Israel.

The latest reports I have seen on the archive were noted here, here, and here. None of them say anything about an offer to return half the archive or about Iraqi antiquities having been transferred from the US to Israel. Neither point is raised in the Peck interview and I am skeptical about both until I see verification.

As for Mr. Peck, his answers are rambling, nonlinear, and even somewhat evasive, and he also gets in some subtle digs at both the current Iraqi Government and the US. He does in the end come down firmly in favor of the archive being safe in Iraqi hands if it is returned, although he does not quite say he himself is in favor of doing this. I hope he is right. The very confusing saga of the traditional Tomb of Ezekiel (start here and follow the many links back; see also here) raises some cause for concern whether Jewish antiquities would be treated with the same care as others. Last I heard, everything has turned out fine with the Tomb of Ezekiel. But were it not for the national and international uproar by Jews, Muslims, and Christians over reports of the tomb's mistreatment, I am not entirely confident that it would have. I hope my concerns are unfounded. See also my comments in the background links, especially the last paragraph in this post and the links therein. As always, I think the major issue is where the artifacts would be safest and best cared for as part of the heritage of humanity.