The JTA has reported over the weekend that the Iraqi Jewish Archive will return to Iraq in September 2018 with the end of its exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Baltimore. According to the article, the State Department announced that the return of the archive to Iraq can be delayed as long as there is an agreement between the Iraqi government and an institution that will exhibit it. The Iraqi government claims that the archive is part of the country's patrimony and could serve as a domestic education tool of the country's Jewish history. I need not tell readers of this blog the Iraqi government came into possession of the archive by looting it from the Iraqi Jewish community. The issue is what to do about it.
As a stopgap, it is possible that another institution could make an agreement with the Iraqi government to host it for another period of time. However, that would only be a stopgap. To permanently prevent the archive's return would require either the United States Government to renege on the agreement or for the Iraqi government to decide to waive its rights. There have been voices in Congress pushing for the US Government to do exactly as I describe. However, their voices have not gained traction for wider publicization. Without broad awareness of the archive's existence, let alone the travesty of it returning to Iraq, the State Department will not consider holding the archive without the Iraqi government's permission.
Similarly, the Iraqi government will not consider waiving its rights unless they are shamed into acknowledging that their possession of it is a result of looting the Jewish community. Shaming them will require mass awareness. A few things we need in order create this mass awareness. One is that we need protests at Iraqi diplomatic missions highlighting that the archive is looted. The second part is to get friendly voices in the media to write about and broadcast about it in outlets that are viewed by the large public. This isn't to claim that doing so will definitely prevent the archive's return to Iraq, but can anything think of a better approach than shaming the Iraqi government and is there any way to shame the Iraqi government without creating mass awareness?