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Iraqi first lady visits Wiesenthal Center

The wife of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani visited The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Hero Ibrahim Ahmed on Sept. 26 toured the center’s Museum of Tolerance and recalled her friendship with the Jews of her Kurdish hometown. She also briefly recalled the killings and torture inflicted on her fellow Kurds during the regime of dictator Saddam Hussein.

“In every person’s mind there is a small Saddam,” she said. “Killing Saddam is nothing, but killing the Saddam in our minds is everything.”

JTA, the only media outlet admitted to the event, asked whether the Iraqi government had approved her visit to the high-profile Jewish and ardently pro-Israel institution, which plans to build a Center for Human Dignity in Jerusalem.

Ahmed, the owner of an Iraqi media group and a strong advocate for children’s rights, answered quickly, “I don’t ask for permission. I go where I want to go.”

Her visit reciprocated a dinner she had hosted at her home in Sulaymaniyah, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, for Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, and Liebe Geft, the director of its Museum of Tolerance.

Cooper and Geft had been invited to come and consult on plans for a traveling exhibit to commemorate the murder of 5,000 Kurdish men, women and children in the town of Halabja.

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