On Sept. 4, an exhibition including 23 of the recovered items, along with videos of the painstaking restoration effort, will open at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.The politics of dealing with the Iraqi Jewish archive have not grown less complicated over the years. This article covers local politics in the Los Angeles area, plus this report on the current views of the State Department:
The 2,000-square-foot exhibition, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage,” will continue through Nov. 15 at the Orange County site.
Among the show’s highlights are a Hebrew Bible with commentaries published in 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793, a hand-lettered and decorated haggadah, and a lunar calendar in Hebrew and Arabic.
One section of the exhibition shows how the moldy mass of material was saved by the National Archives experts. “Every page had to be vacuumed, freeze-dried, preserved and digitized,” Hamburg said. On the Sept. 4 opening day, Hamburg will give a free public lecture at 10 a.m. at the Nixon Library.
The Journal asked the State Department for its view, and the same day received a lengthy response from spokesman Michael Lavallee, who made the following points:Background here with links going back to the recovery of the archive in 2003. I have given my own thoughts at that link and here and here, and I have nothing to add at present.
As agreed to by the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Jewish Archive (IJA) is in the temporary custody of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for conservation, preservation, digitization and exhibition in the United States.
In May 2014, the Iraqi government extended IJA’s stay in the United States to allow its exhibition in more cities. After its Nixon Library display, the exhibit is due at the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach in December.
There are no definite plans for subsequent exhibits, but the United States “remains committed to the return of the IJA to Iraq, as per prior agreement,” Lavallee stated.
To the Journal’s question regarding the security of the IJA material should it be returned to Iraq, Lavallee responded diplomatically: “We will continue to partner with the Government of Iraq in countering the threat that [Islamic State] poses to the Iraqi people and heritage. Iraqi forces continue to make progress against [Islamic State] and it is impossible to speculate what the security situation would be at the point in the future when the collection would return to Iraq.”