The Cultural Property Advisory Committee of the State Department will meet on July 31, 2018,to review an Memorandum of Understand (MOU) request from Algeria which would validate Algerian claims to confiscated Jewish property and heritage.
Under the Cultural Property Implementation Act, our government has been signing similar MOUs – agreements between the US and foreign governments that blockade the entry of property to the USA. The MOUs claim to be about looting, but their broad scope and limited evidence of success suggests their real impact is providing a legal vehicle to legitimize foreign confiscations and wrongful ownership claims. Legitimate efforts to curb looting are essential, but they must be targeted to preserve archaeological resources, and not to disguise the brazen property confiscations of tyrants.
US cultural agreements with Arab governments are based on a flawed premise – that Jewish cultural property constitutes the national heritage of Arab countries. In fact, Jewish cultural property in Arab countries was expropriated from private homes, schools, and synagogues. No such agreement should be made with a state where Jews were subjected to state-sanctioned Anti-Semitism, Nuremberg like laws and in some cases ethic-cleansing.
Below are links to comments and testimonials urging the state department to reject the Algerian MOU request. Further background can be read here.