Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How USA Is Helping Iraq Keep Stolen Jewish Antiques from Assyrian Days

Nadene Goldfoot                                                
                                                       Assyrian Empire
On October 11th, the National Archives in Washington DC will have an exhibit of Iraqi Jewish artifacts dating back to 721 BCE when the Assyrian Empire, an ancient Semitic state of western Asia,  attacked Israel and Judah, the 2 Jewish states,  and took away the loot they were able to procure.

At the time, King Ahaz, the Jews' 12th king,  ruled in Judah.  He died the the year before the attack in 720 BCE.  Jerusalem was the capital of Judah.  Eight more kings would follow him with the last being King Zedekiah who died in 586 BCE.

 King Hoshea (730-721)  was the ruler of Israel, their 22nd king,  died  in 724 BCE when he was imprisoned by King Shalmaneser of Asssyria who took the land in 721 BCE.  .  There were no kings following him, for that was the end of the monarchy.  Samaria was his capital.  Eventually the land surrounding this city also came to be called "Samaria."   King Hoshea had assassinated King Pekah of Israel (735-730 BCE) and had seized the throne.
Assyria had been in a slump.  It was an aggressive kingdom in the 20th century BCE and expanded rapidly in the 13th and 10th centuries with the successes of King David and his son King Solomon of Israel  against the Aramean states in Mesopotamia (Iraq)  and Syria contributing to their recovery.

In 735 BCE King Ahaz of Judah ( 735 to 730 BCE) was attacked by King Pekah of Israel (735-730) ,  who had an alliance with Damascus, Philistiaa and Edom. King  Ahaz asked for help from King Tiglath-Pileser. of Assyria.(745-726 BCE).   The result was that Israel lost its territory in what later became Transjordan (Israel)  and Galilee and  Philistia, Tyre, Moab and Edom became Assyrian provinces.  King Hosea of Israel, who followed Pekah, was king from 730 to 721 BCE.  In 726 BCE Hosea tried to throw off the yoke which led to King Shalmaneser V's of Assyria's siege of Israel-now called Samaria and its capture in 721 by his successor, King Sargon (721-712 BCE).   Shalmaneser died during the siege of Israel.  Shalmaneser was the last of a long line of kings of Assyria since 860 BCE.  .

Sargon annexed the country and deported 27,290 Israelites to Assyria and Media and replaced them with Syrian and Babylonian prisoners. Media was another ancient Asiatic country, descended by the sons of Japheth.  They would cooperate with the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE and were defeated by Cyrus of Persia.   Though during Sargon's reign he had many victories, he was assassinated in the end and was succeeded by King Sennacherib.

However, the city of Ashdod revolted with the support of King Hezekiah of Judah(720-692 BCE)  The revolt ended in 715 BCE.   King Sennacherib of Assyria (705-681 BCE)  in 705 came into power causing another uprising throughout the Assyrian Empire, giving King Hezekiah the opportunity to reassert his independence.  King Sennacherib marched south and took  the Phoenician cities as he came upon them and defeated the Egyptian forces at Elterkeh in 701BCE.  He took Ascalon and Joppa, sacked Lachish and Jerusalem in 700 BCE.  Judah was  destroyed along with their capital, but King Hezekiah was able to hold out, receiving moderate terms by paying tribute and ceding more land.

King Sennacherib of Assyria and his army were hit with a plague so returned to their home.  Judah's 14th king, King Manasseh of Judah (720-692 BCE) was exiled to Assyria in 652 because he had been complicit in a plot against Ashurbanipal (669-626 BCE).   Then Assyria declined quickly and was taken over by Babylon, the next conqueror.   Judah will continue on with 6 more kings before their decline.  King Zedekiah (597-586 BCE will be the last when the Babylonian Empire succeeds.

Jews have continued to live in what came to be called Iraq, land of the city Ur, where Abraham was born with his father Terah.   Central Mesopotamia, (Iraq)  where Jews had been deported to, became the center of Mishnaic and Talmudic learning.   Iraq gained independence in 1932 which brought about the immediate persecution of Jews. A pogrom broke out where hundreds of Baghdad Jews were killed and wounded in a revolt of Rashid Ali in 1941.  Iraq attacked Israel in 1948 when their statehood was announced.

In Iraq was the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters building loaded with Jewish artifacts in the basement.   The building had been hit in 2003 when American forces had come after Saddam Hussein.  A live un-detonated bomb had gone through the building and had destroyed the building's water system which caused the Jewish and  Israel sections to be under water.  American forces rescued religious books and a  tiq (box that held Torahs,  Much more was found later.  Money was needed to salvage all this that was under water.

Natan Sharansky of Israel, famous Soviet Dissident and a minister in the Knesset called the USA's VP Dick Cheney  Then Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense was called.  They brought  action to save materials.

On June 5, 2003, 2nd day of Shavuot when we recall how Moses received the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai,  pumps  were brought in to pump out the water.  These antiquities were then flown to Texas and brought to The  National Archives.  $3 million was spent to pack the material safely.  Found was a 400 year old Hebrew Bible, 200 year old Talmud from Vienna, published works dating back to 1568, sermons by a German rabbi in 1692, and lists of male Jewish residents, school records, financial records, applications for university admissions, all seized by the Iraqis.

Jews left Iraq in a mass exodus in 1950-51, and all their property was confiscated.   Those that stayed finally left in the 1970 and couldn't take anything with them either  but the few items  they could carry.  What they left was done under duress.  In 1984 Saddam sent trucks to their abandoned synagogue.  There were still some Jews there who witnessed the thieving.  He did it to humiliate the Jews.  By capturing Jewish archives, he was showing the loss of power of the Jews.

85% of the owners of these antique and old records live in Israel today.  The rest live basically in the UK and USA.  20 Jews still live in Iraq, similar to the 12 old Jewish women who stubbornly refuse to leave Egypt.

The USA plans to give the antiques back to Iraq, who are all Muslims.  They despise Jews and Israel and have never signed a peace treaty. Fighting there continues to this day.  This is like giving loot back to Germany who stole it from the Jews living there.  Iraq has right now a basement filled with ancient Torahs kept in deplorable conditions.  They don't even keep their own antiques in good condition let alone their people, so care less for Jewish things.  They will not preserve a thing.   It is an outrage for the USA to even consider giving things not a part of their personal culture back to them, unless they don't give a hoot as to whether they will be destroyed or not.  Why not give this to Israel, instead, where most of the owners reside?  These antiques were stolen by the Iraqi government from Jewish-Iraqi citizens.

Resource: http://pjmedia.com
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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