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Jewish Vultures Circle Iraq

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    Days of Plunder Tuesday, September 07, 2004 2:36 PM Dear Professor Bahrani, I read with interest your article Days of Plunder published in The Guardian on
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12, 2004
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      Days of Plunder
      Tuesday, September 07, 2004 2:36 PM

      Dear Professor Bahrani,

      I read with interest your article "Days of Plunder" published
      in 'The Guardian' on 31st August this year.
      [http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1293931,00.html%5d.

      A friend of mine who lectures (English literature) at a college in
      Rome reported the following to me last year:

      > From: [name deleted] <[deleted]@...>
      > Date: Fri, May 9, 2003, 12:13 pm
      > To: Martin WEBSTER <martin.webstir@...>
      > Subject: Confirmation
      >
      > Dear Martin,
      >
      > This morning I was talking for a long time to a person I know who
      is one of Italy's IT wizards and a man of integrity. He & his
      company are frequently called in by sundry ministries to set up
      databases and various other computer-technological things about
      which I am utterly ignorant.
      >
      > In this case, he had just been talking an important man from the
      ******** Ministry (I do not identify him), who had just returned
      from Iraq, where Italy is to play an important role in
      reconstruction, and who had seen the results of the Rape of Baghdad
      and its antiquities. He reported that the cases in the museum were
      clearly cut open with a diamond laser (whatever that is) and that
      although it looked a mess, the objects were stolen to order.
      He also volunteered that Western dealers were probably behind it and
      that their design was not only to steal and sell the objects, but
      also to annihilate traces of Assirio-Babylonian culture, so that
      eventually it would be the story of Moses which predominates in the
      area.
      >
      > I make no comment on this but only pass on what was said to me.
      >
      > Best wishes,
      >
      > [name deleted]

      It seems that the reason for this looting was not the obvious
      reason - venal greed - but a long-term strategy by elements in
      Israel who are bent of creating a "Greater Israel" whose borders
      would be defined by "Biblical authority" and which would reach not
      only towards the suburbs of Cairo but well into Iraq. Quite part
      from their ready access to sophisticated high-tec tools, the fact
      that the looters had a "shopping list" marks them apart from the
      usual type of looters who emerge during periods of law and order
      breakdowns. The artefacts being stolen not only establish the
      Iraqi's long occupancy of their homeland, but establish the
      existence of a settled Iraqi civilisation and culture long before
      the wandering tent-dwelling Jews started to make their impact in the
      Middle East. The looting is part of a long-term Zionist cultural
      imperialism being perpetrated to further Zionist land-grabbing
      aspirations.

      I append a recent report on the topic of Iraqi artefacts being
      stolen and Jewish archives being found in Baghdad following the U.S.
      invasion. These are interesting, if only because they illustrate the
      marked contrast between the U.S. occupation administration's neglect
      in the matter of preserving Iraq's heritage with its pro-active
      policy in the matter of finding and preserving sundry Jewish
      archives, which are now being employed by the Israeli authorities
      for much more significant purposes than mere compensation claims by
      Jews expelled from Iraq since the 1950s.

      I would be glad to receive any thoughts you may have on these
      matters.

      Yours sincerely,

      Martin Webster.
      ============================

      <http://www.dailystar.co.lb/>
      Daily Star (Beirut) - Saturday 4th September 2004

      Israel tallies up compensation claims by Iraq's Jews
      By Michael R. Fischbach*

      On May 6, 2003, the same day that Paul Bremer replaced Jay Garner as
      head of the US Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance
      (ORHA) in Iraq, 16 American soldiers from the US Army's Mobile
      Exploration Team Alpha, along with personnel from ORHA and the Iraqi
      National Congress (INC), descended into the flooded basement of the
      bombed-out Iraqi Department of General Intelligence in Baghdad.
      Although the army team's job was to search for Iraqi weapons of mass
      destruction, that day they were seeking something quite different.

      A former Iraqi intelligence official had tipped off the INC a few
      days earlier that an ancient copy of the Jewish Talmud lay deep
      within the General Intelligence headquarters. The INC then told the
      Americans, who decided that finding such a valuable cultural relic
      merited the diversion of the army search team from its normal task.
      Although the troops did not uncover the Talmud, they did discover
      something else: thousands of manuscripts, documents and books, some
      of them hundreds of years old, dealing with Iraq's ancient and once
      thriving Jewish community, which is now virtually extinct. What the
      troops had found were the archives of the General Intelligence's
      Israel-Palestine and Jewish Sections.

      It appears that many of the manuscripts, Torah scrolls and books
      were confiscated from synagogues and libraries after the mass exodus
      of the Iraqi Jewish community in 1950-51. Most went to Israel. With
      the permission of the interim Iraqi Culture Ministry, the Coalition
      Provisional Authority had the water-damaged documents shipped to
      Texas, whereupon they were freeze dried and sent to the US National
      Archives and Records Administration in Washington for restoration
      and preservation. Archives officials are presently seeking between
      $1.5 million to $3 million in donations to further the restoration
      work. The final disposition of the documents remains an open
      question.

      The Americans also discovered documents in the General Intelligence
      headquarters basement relating to Jewish property in and around
      Baghdad, property that had been sequestered by the Iraqi government
      beginning in 1951, during the mass emigration. The Israeli
      government has long campaigned to have the value of Jewish property
      abandoned in the Arab world deducted from any compensation the
      Israelis may one day pay to Palestinian refugees for the property
      they abandoned in Israel in 1948. Indeed, Israeli Diaspora Affairs
      Minister Natan Sharansky asked the Americans in 2003 to look for
      anything relating to Iraq's Jewish community after conquering the
      country.

      After the property records were discovered in Baghdad, the State
      Department in late May 2004 passed along to Sharansky 800 black-and-
      white photocopies of the Arabic-language documents. After
      translation, they will be turned over to the Israeli Justice
      Ministry, whose director-general, Aharon Abramovitz, co-chairs the
      Israeli government's Compensation Committee for Jews Who Left Arab
      States. The Justice Ministry maintains an archive of 12,000 files
      dealing with property claims of Jewish immigrants from Arab
      countries and Iran. The unit responsible for this archive was first
      established in 1969, disbanded in the early 1990s, and recently
      revived.

      The Israeli government has not been alone in discussing compensation
      for Jewish property taken over in Iraq. This was just the latest
      example of the interest in such property that arose in 2003, soon
      after Iraq's defeat. Iraqi Jewish exiles in the US began discussing
      lawsuits. Groups like the World Jewish Congress raised the issue
      with the US Congress and the British Parliament. Another
      organization, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, issued a lengthy
      report entitled "Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for
      Rights and Redress" in June 2003.

      The publicity and lobbying worked: The US House of Representatives
      held hearings on Jewish emigrants from the Arab world in June 2003,
      and later passed a resolution of support for these emigrants in
      October. In March 2004, both the House and the Senate adopted a
      joint resolution calling on the US government to raise the issue
      whenever it brings up the Palestinian refugee question in diplomatic
      discussions.

      Beyond talk, there even has been one specific success in the
      campaign to compensate former Iraqi Jews. In April 2004, French
      insurance giant AXA agreed to pay $130,000 to three Israelis who had
      bought policies decades ago when they were living in Iraq, and added
      that four others were eligible for payment. AXA's interest in this
      issue actually predates the invasion of Iraq. The firm agreed in
      late 2002 to look into old insurance policies taken out by Jews in
      the Arab world, and in October 2003 the Israeli Justice Ministry
      published in the Israeli press information from its files regarding
      approximately 200 cases of Iraqi Jewish insurance policies that were
      never paid out.

      Nor has all the talk of Jewish property compensation been restricted
      to Israel and Western countries. Discussion of Jews and property has
      also surfaced within Iraq itself. In late December 2003, a source
      within the Iraqi Governing Council told the Jerusalem Post that the
      council was considering restitution of Jewish property seized as of
      1951. Rumors of "foreign Jews," presumably former Iraqi citizens,
      seeking to buy land in Iraq, were rife. The exiled Iraqi Shiite
      cleric Ayatollah Qazim al-Husayni al-Hairi issued a fatwa from Qom,
      Iran, as a result. The decree sanctions death for any Jew seeking to
      buy land in Iraq.

      Jewish property claims have also emerged elsewhere in the Arab
      world. Perhaps as part of Libya's attempts to emerge from its pariah
      status, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Moammar
      Gadhafi, stated in March 2004 that the Libyan government would pay
      compensation for property seized from Jewish emigrants after 1948.

      Turning over captured documents on Jewish property was not the first
      example of American sympathy with Israeli and Jewish interests in
      Iraq. In July 2003, the Jewish Agency, in coordination with the
      Israeli prime minister's office and other international Jewish
      organizations, was allowed to fly six, mainly elderly Jews from
      Baghdad to Israel. Despite their attempts to stop the illegal export
      of objects stolen from Iraqi museums, the Americans one month later
      handed over to Israeli authorities in Jordan the helmet of an
      Israeli aviator shot down over Iraq in June 1967 that they had taken
      from a Baghdad military museum. This past March, Secretary of State
      Colin Powell assured a delegation from the World Jewish Congress
      that he would work for restoring citizenship to Iraqi Jewish
      emigrants who were denationalized, as well as for property
      compensation.

      Such attention on compensation could also heighten global attention
      on compensation and-or restitution of the property abandoned by
      Palestinian refugees in 1948 and later confiscated by Israel. So,
      too, might Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision earlier
      this year that Israel would compensate any Jewish settlers evacuated
      from settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Where might this money
      come from? Sharon's disengagement plan calls for an international
      body to take possession of the buildings left behind in evacuated
      Jewish settlements, and determine their value for potential
      compensation payments to Israel.

      Whether all this attention on Jewish and Palestinian property
      abandoned under duress long ago will lead to concrete action,
      however, remains to be seen.
      -----
      *Michael R. Fischbach is a professor of history at Randolph-Macon
      College in Virginia, and a consultant on refugee property issues.
      His book, "Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property
      and the Arab-Israeli Conflict," will soon be reprinted in the Middle
      East by the American University of Cairo Press. He wrote this
      commentary for THE DAILY STAR
      ============================
      http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/07/international/worldspecial/07FIND.h
      tml?pagewanted=print&position=
      New York Times - 7th May 2003

      Iraqi Documents on Israel Surface on a Cultural Hunt

      BAGHDAD, Iraq - What began today as a hunt for an ancient Jewish
      text at secret police headquarters here wound up unearthing a trove
      of Iraqi intelligence documents and maps relating to Israel as well
      as offers of sales of uranium and other nuclear material to Iraq.

      In one huge room in the flooded basement of the building, American
      soldiers from MET Alpha, the "mobile exploitation team" that has been
      searching for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in Iraq for
      the past three months, found maps featuring terrorist strikes
      against Israel dating to 1991. Another map of Israel highlighted
      what the Iraqis thought were the locations at which their Scud
      missiles had struck in the Persian Gulf war of 1991. The strikes
      were designated by yellow-and-red paper flowers placed atop the
      pinpointed Israeli neighborhoods.

      Team members floated out of the room a perfect mock-up of the
      Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, as well as mock-ups of downtown
      Jerusalem and official Israeli buildings in very fine detail. They
      also collected a satellite picture of Dimona, Israel's nuclear
      complex, and a female mannequin dressed in an Israeli Air Force
      uniform, standing in front of a list of Israeli officers' ranks and
      insignia.

      Of even greater interest to MET Alpha was a "top secret" intelligence
      memo found in a room on another floor. Written in Arabic and dated
      May 20, 2001, the memo from the Iraqi intelligence station chief in
      an African country described an offer by a "holy warrior" to sell
      uranium and other nuclear material. The bid was rejected, the memo
      states, because of the United Nations "sanctions situation." But the
      station chief wrote that the source was eager to provide similar
      help at a more convenient time.

      The discoveries, which American military officers called significant
      but which did not by themselves offer documentary evidence of direct
      Iraqi links to terror attacks on Israel, were the serendipitous
      byproduct of one of the strangest missions ever conducted by MET
      Alpha.

      The search began this morning when 16 soldiers from MET Alpha teamed
      up with members of the Iraqi National Congress, a leading opposition
      group headed by Ahmad Chalabi, to search for what an intelligence
      source had described as one of the most ancient copies of the Talmud
      in existence, dating from the seventh century. The Talmud is a book
      of oral law, with rabbinical commentaries and interpretations.

      A former senior official of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein's secret
      police, had told the opposition group a few days earlier that he had
      hidden the ancient Jewish book in the basement of his headquarters.
      The building had been badly damaged by coalition bombing, said the
      man, who is now working for the Iraqi National Congress, but he was
      still willing to take a group there to recover it. MET Alpha
      hesitated. Its mission was hunting for proof of unconventional
      weapons in Iraq, not saving cultural and religious treasures. But
      Col. Richard R. McPhee, its commander, decided that the historic
      Talmud was too valuable to leave behind.

      Early this morning, a seven-vehicle convoy pulled out of the Iraqi
      Hunting Club, a former Baathist retreat that is now the headquarters
      for the Iraqi National Congress. Accompanied by members of the
      Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, MET Alpha's
      chaplain, who has a strong interest in religious texts, and a
      reporter, the group arrived at Mukhabarat headquarters only to find
      the section of the building in which the precious document was said
      to be stored under four feet of murky, fetid water. Dead animals
      floated on the surface. The stairwell down to the muck was littered
      with shards of glass, pieces of smashed walls and other bombing
      debris.

      Temporarily daunted by the overpowering stench, MET Alpha's leader,
      Chief Warrant Officer Richard L. Gonzales, and two other MET Alpha
      soldiers eventually collected themselves and plunged into the mire in
      search of the holy text as the team chaplain shook his head in
      disbelief.

      What they found instead of the precious book was what the former
      Iraqi intelligence official said was the operations center of the
      Mukhabarat's Israel-Palestine department. Two Iraqi National
      Congress members joined the soldiers in the water as they inched
      their way by flashlight through the 50-foot hallway to the rooms
      where they happened upon the intelligence documents.

      Slogging down the dank hallway, the soldiers reached a room where
      they found hundreds of books floating in the foul water. There they
      rescued three bundles of older Jewish books, including a Babylonian
      Talmud from Vilna, accounting books of the Jewish community of
      Baghdad between 1949 and 1953 and dozens of more modern scholarly
      books mostly in Arabic and Hebrew - "Generals of Israel," by Moshe
      Ben-Shaul; David Ben-Gurion's "Memoirs"; and "Semites and Anti-
      Semites," by the Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis.

      But no seventh-century Talmud.

      In the end, MET Alpha collected and turned over one large truckload
      of intelligence documents to the Defense Intelligence Agency for
      analysis. As for the missing Talmud, Mr. Gonzales said his team
      believed that it might still be at the bottom of the Mukhabarat's
      flooded basement. That view was reinforced by the recovery of a
      wooden box with Hebrew writing, which the former Iraqi intelligence
      officer said might have contained the priceless artifact.

      *********************************************************************

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