The tomb of the Prophet Nahum and his sister Sara .
(photo credit: COURTESY KURDISH JEWS AFFAIRS REPRESENTATION)
The representative of Jewish affairs in Iraqi Kurdistan has launched an appeal to save the tomb of the Hebrew prophet Nahum, famed for having correctly predicted the fall of the Assyrian Empire and its capital Nineveh, as is recorded in the Bible.
The tomb has gained some attention in the past couple of years, with various Jewish groups visiting it and media warning about its close proximity to Islamic State activity.
The Kurdish Regional Government last year appointed Sherzad Mamsani as the Jewish representative of the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, with the aim of rehabilitating Jewish culture in the area, preserving the rights of Kurdish Jews there, as well as “for the grievances of Kurdish Jewish refugees with regard to the Arabization and genocide campaigns of the Iraqi central government.”
The tomb lies inside a synagogue in the Christian town of Al Qosh, whose doors are guarded by a Christian family who reportedly promised the town’s long-departed rabbi to safeguard it.
Mamsani warns that it could be just a matter of days before the ancient tomb crumbles to its ruin. He says he has been holding urgent meetings with the ministries of tourism, culture and religious affairs to ask for help in preserving the historical site.
He has also appealed to UNESCO and told The Jerusalem Post
he has a meeting scheduled with a representative in Erbil in the coming days.
UNESCO's office in Paris said it was looking into the matter and that it had reached out to its Baghdad office for information with respect to the tomb.
“We demand all the historical heritage preservation organizations, the United Nations, UNESCO, the KRG and all the representatives of countries in Kurdistan help to prevent the destruction of this historical monument,” Mamsani said.
He stressed that this is not just a Jewish battle but one for humanity and history: “Preventing the destruction of this building is the responsibility of us all.”
“Our call is not a call to ask for money or financial assistance,” he told the Post
. “Our call is just to tell the world that the Iraqi government destroyed many of the historic sites in Iraq and Iran.”
“Now we are like the Jews, the Kurds do not accept the continuation of the demolition and collapse of any [part] of our history,” he added.