Where Assyrians Get Their News.
101 San Fernando Street, Suite 505
San Jose, CA  95112  U.S.
Voice (408) 918-9200
Fax (408) 918-9201
Khzeeran 12, 6751
Volume VII
Issue 14
June 12, 2001
return to zindamagazine.com

This Week In Zinda

  On The Dole In North Iraq: Kurds, Christians, And The Status Quo
  Ankara Says Assyrians Can Return To Turkey
Greek Diplomat, Turkey Violates Human Rights

Zowaa U.S. Rep Discusses ADM Activities
Syria Begins Pulling Out Of Lebanon
Assyrians Support Gary Condit's Reputation

  "Their self-esteem is extremely low"

Beth Mardutho Launches The Syriac Digital Library
Syriac Studies at the University of Toronto
Journal Of The Assyrian Academic Society Upcoming Issue
Assyrian History Class in San Jose

  Dr. Kelly Ross
  When An Educator Crosses the Line
  Paul Newey Feted By Chicago Chapter Of The Baker Street Irregulars
  Jealousy & Violence
  Abgars and the Astronomical Tablets
  Malik Yacoub d’Malik Ismail
  CSSS Symposium in November



The Lighthouse


The powers opposing Saddam Hussein’s regime (consisting principally of the U.S., the U.K., Israel and Kuwait) continue their feverish search for a plan to topple their nemesis. Washington’s confrontationalists have rested their hope on a London-based rump group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC). This umbrella organization includes representatives of most Iraqi groups (Shi’a, Sunni, Kurdish, Christian). Like certain Assyrian individuals and organizations, the INC unfortunately lacks credibility.

For years, the focus of news accounts has been the tug of war pitting the confrontationalists with the accommodationists (Russia, France, China, and most other nations). This latter group wants to lower the rhetoric of violence; it seeks a gradual resumption of full relations with Iraq, regardless of who may be at the helm of the country. It is true that some accommodationists (e.g., Amnesty International; Médecins Sans Frontières) are motivated by humanitarian concerns. But the most powerful accommodationists are primarily motivated by the lure of lucrative commerce, and in some cases by the repayment of debts long overdue from Iraq.

Somewhat lost amid the policy dispute is the likely consequence to the population of north Iraq if the status quo could be toppled. The Kurds currently constitute the vast preponderance of this population, and they will be losers if the status quo should be toppled. On the other hand, Christians are a minuscule presence in the north, while the vast percentage of them live in the rest of Iraq. For that minuscule number in the north, it is less clear how a change in north Iraq’s status quo would play out. In all likelihood, a nation-wide reunification would diminish the Diaspora’s focus on the north, and the relatively small numbers it represents. While attention on Assyrian/Chaldean leaders in the north might somewhat wane, the lot of the vast Christian population which does not live in the north would presumably improve dramatically.

Most reports conclude that Northern Iraq has become a virtual UN welfare state. In large measure, this is due to the U.N. Security Council’s “Oil-for-Food” Resolution (No. 986). A number of studies have correctly pointed to the devastation wrought on the Iraqi population by Western actions. But these same studies show that living conditions (availability of food and medicine, and the control of disease) are better in the north than in the rest of the country. There are important reasons for this.

The three Kurdish provinces (Dohuk, Arbil, Suleymania) contain 13% of Iraq’s population. They are therefore entitled to 13% of the supplies that reach Iraq under the “Oil-for-Food” measure. But as the next paragraph explains, this is a highly favorable 13%.

The rest of Iraq (87% of the country’s population) should be benefiting from the remaining 87% of the “Oil-for-Food” supplies. It doesn’t quite work out that way, because this 87% is subject to several deductions not applied to the northern share. Thus, this 87% share is reduced by 30% for war reparations, and it is also charged a 3% assessment for U.N. operational costs. In other words, 87% of the population ends up receiving 54% of the food and medicine.

Another significant player in northern Iraq is the group of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These arrived in 1991, in the wake of the Gulf War and following the repatriation of the massive numbers (mostly Kurds, but including Assyrians/Chaldeans) who had fled across into Turkey. These NGOs continue to make a critical contribution to the welfare of the northern population. Except during the Iraqi offensive of 1996, when these NGOs temporarily fled the area, they have been continuous players in ministering to the needs of the northern population. Since passage of the “Oil-for-Food” Resolution, these groups have sought to complement the benefits of Resolution 986, and they have been especially active in promoting literacy programs and the creation of new community organizations. These NGOs operate without the permission of Baghdad, which explains why they are reluctant to be identified by name. Nonetheless, a number of the major NGOs operating in the north signed a letter last year in protest of the sanctions, and they referred to “the culture of dependency being created by the UN program.”

In addition to Resolution 986’s economic tilt favoring north Iraq, there is the matter of black market revenues derived from the lucrative smuggling of oil from Iraq to Turkey. The Ibrahim al-Khalil frontier crossing is well-known to the US and the UK, but these two countries rarely refer to it. Black market trade is a sop to Turkey which lost Iraq as a trading partner, and Washington depends on Turkey’s goodwill to operate from the Incirlik airbase in patrolling the no-flight zones.

For obvious reasons, there is no verification of the sums earned in this underhanded way, but they are substantial enough to have caused lethal clashes between Barzani’s KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and Talabani’s PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). The latter claims that the KDP is making over one million dollars a day on transit fees from the oil clandestinely going out and the consumer goods coming in.

In reaffirmation of the maxim that “politics makes for strange bedfellows,” in 1996 Barzani actually turned to Baghdad for help when the PUK - heavily backed by Iran - was inflicting serious damage on the KDP. The shooting war between the two parties continued for a couple of years, until Washington helped broker a truce. The cease-fire included an agreement to prepare for long-overdue parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan. But nary a word has since been uttered about the holding of elections.

Barzani and Talabani both insist they have no intention of establishing a Kurdish state in north Iraq. Their mantra is “autonomy within a democratic Iraq.” Maybe so. But a powerful symbol of a de facto “Kurdistan” is the massive oil refinery which the Kurds now operate. The region has also switched to daylight savings time, making it one hour ahead of Baghdad. Kurdistan has issued its own currency, and its own telecommunications system. At its border controls, Kurdish troops wear snappy new uniforms, a long way from the ragtag clothing of the fabled Pesh Merga. A handful of Assyrians in the West remain in deep denial, and they become apoplectic at the mere mention of an “Iraqi Kurdistan.” But this is not news to the A.D.M., the A.P.P., the leaders of the Chaldean and Assyrian communities in north Iraq, and anyone else who distinguishes between fact and fiction.

Surrounded by four states that do not wish it well, the Iraqi Kurds also understand that if they upset their neighbors they risk losing the Western good will that keeps them protected. As a Kurdish farmer stated to a correspondent: “If the government [of Iraq] comes back, we lose everything.” The Iraqi Kurds are walking a fine line, but even amid fratricidal conflicts their self-interest is well-defined. Moreover, the Kurdish Diaspora is in step with the homeland. Unfortunately, for the Christians of Iraq, whether in the north or otherwise, there is no consensus now or in the foreseeable future.

Francis Sarguis

Good Morning Bet-Nahrain

Courtesy of Kurdish Oberver (June 14)

(ZNDA: Ankara) The Turkish government has issued a circular, signed by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, inviting the Assyrians (referred to as Syriacs) to return to their homes and villages in Turkey. The circular asserts that Assyrians had left Turkey "of their own volition" but called on the government agencies to remove all obstacles in the process of returning the Assyrians families from aboard:

"The Interior Ministry will carry out the necessary works so the Syriacs who have left their villages for various reasons and taken refuge in or settled in European countries will be granted permission, upon request, to return to their villages under the authority of the Emergency Rule [OHAL] Region Governor's Office, including the neighboring provinces. The concerned state institutions must show the necessary attention and sensitivity for Syriac citizens to be able to freely take advantage of all their constitutional, legal, and democratic rights, which are under state guarantee, and use them… For our Syriac citizens to freely avail themselves of all constitutional, legal, and democratic rights is under our state's guarantee."

"Some circles have asserted that Syriac citizens who have left Turkey of their own free will and settled in other countries have encountered a set of difficulties when they want to return to their country," Prime Minister Ecevit said last Tuesday from his office in the capital Ankara. He continued: "Although these types of assertions are not true, it has been assured that the related institutions will show the necessary care in view that there may have been a set of wrong practices from time to time. For our Syriac citizens to avail themselves of all constitutional, legal, and democratic rights is under our state's guarantee. These dear citizens of ours who have settled in other countries for various reasons can come to our country and their villages without meeting with any difficulties or obstacles at all."

According to Zinda sources in Istanbul, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's issuance of the circular was in fact a quick public relations schema to divert attention from an earlier scandal in the Interior Ministry. Turkey’s IM had earlier banned any visits to Assyrian (Syriac) villages in Anatolia. This in turn drew strong reaction from Europe’s tourism companies and threatened Turkey’s robust tourism industry.

Courtesy of Macedonian Press Agency (June 12)

(ZNDA: Athenes) Greek right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy Euro-deputy Christos Zacharakis with a question to the European Union Council of Ministers condemned the Turkish foreign ministry decision to forbid European citizens of Assyrian and Syrian origin to visit the homes of their ancestors and their relatives in southern Turkey.

Mr. Zacharakis pointed out that Ankara is violating fundamental human rights with the legislative regulation it implements, while at the same time, it continues the systematic destruction of the Assyrian and Syrian cultural heritage by destroying monasteries and churches turning them into mosques and stables.

News Digest


(ZNDA: San Jose) On Sunday evening Mr. Rommel Eliah, the U.S. and Canada Representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) offered a small audience of Assyrians at the Church of the East Hall a brief report of his organization’s current activities in North of Iraq. Mr. Eliah began his talk with a cause-and-effect analysis of the apathy demonstrated by the Assyrians outside of the Homeland. Acknowledging the worldwide focus on the future of Iraq and the minorities in the North, Mr. Eliah’s comments were void of any specific reference to ADM’s current role in the Iraqi National Congress, alliances formed with other Assyrian political groups, and the on-going discussions with U.S. State Department.

The local members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement distributed several copies of the Bahra Newspaper, published by the ADM in North Iraq, and other pamphlets and books.

A total amount of two thousand dollars were collected at this meeting for the construction of a social building in Dohuk. Zinda Magazine contributed over five hundred dollars toward this construction project.



Reuters English News Service (June 15); by Afif Diab

(ZNDA: Beirut) Syria is gradually moving tanks and armored vehicles from Beirut to the border, cutting its military presence in Lebanon in a sudden and unexpected redeployment.

Witnesses saw more than 25 Syrian tanks and armored personnel carriers and vehicles rolling through the eastern Lebanese town of Chtaura, heading towards the Lebanese-Syrian border. "There were more tanks and vehicles leaving than last night," one witness told Reuters. Most of the Syrian troops on the move appeared to have withdrawn from Christian neighborhoods and areas near the presidential palace and other Lebanese government buildings.

Lebanese security sources said Syrian troops had left 14 positions in mainly Christian east Beirut on Thursday and Friday and planned to complete their redeployment within the next few days. The sources did not know whether all those soldiers were leaving the country. Syria has about 35,000 troops in Lebanon.

Lebanon praised Syria's surprise redeployment - which began on Thursday after months of complaint from Lebanon's substantial Christian minority which resents Damascus's dominance of Lebanese politics. Thirty percent of Lebanon's 4.3 million population is Christian.

Maronite Christian Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who has spearheaded the campaign against Damascus's influence, expressed relief but said discontent remained.

Diplomats in Lebanon said the eventual decision was the result of dialogue which President Emile Lahoud has conducted with Syria's critics, mainly Sfeir who has assumed the political leadership of the Maronites since their defeat at the end of the war. They also linked the timing to Assad's visit this month to Paris, the traditional patron of the Maronites. Last month, Pope John Paul II visited Damascus and met with the heads of the state and the Christian churches in Syria.

“This is a cosmetic move aimed at absorbing the anger against the Syrian presence," exiled Maronite rebel leader Michel Aoun - who lost a quixotic 1989 battle to drive out the Syrians - told Lebanese television.


USA Today (June 14); John Ritter

(ZNDA: Modesto) Rep. Gary Condit, 53, a conservative Democrat representing California's 18th District, and a friend of Assyrians is in trouble. But his popularity appears to be undiminished in the wake of publicity about his friendship with Chandra Levy, 24, an intern who vanished six weeks ago in Washington, D.C. She's from Modesto, just north of Ceres.

Condit has a reputation as an elected official whose door is open to his constituents, Assyrians in particular.

The congressman is entwined in what has become a major story in Washington. Police have knocked on doors in Levy's neighborhood, interviewed friends, combed through her e-mails and phone records, and searched parks and riverbanks. Levy's friends distributed hundreds of missing-person flyers. Her parents spent several days in the capital talking to police and asking the public for help. But a case that has drawn national attention plays to a sympathetic audience at home. Assyrian voters here and in Modesto and Merced, the 18th District's two largest cities, defend Condit as a family man rooted in his community, a gregarious but sincere politician focused on issues that affect the valley.

The headquarters of the Bet- Nahrain Inc, KBSV Television (AssyriaVision) and Bet-Nahrain Magazine are located in Ceres. A career politician, Condit was elected Ceres' youngest mayor while still in college. He was a Stanislaus County supervisor and California assemblyman before winning the House seat in 1989. He typically wins re-election with at least 65% of the vote. Whether he's helping elderly Assyrian immigrants obtain citizenship, Vietnam War vets win disability claims or crime victims with their battles in the criminal justice system, voters here vouch for his character.

Surfs Up!

“This Jean-Paul Sliva guy is obsessed with us! First he claims that he "knows better" than us darkies about our Calendar, then he insults our past leaders (Agha Petros).

This guy reminds me of Kelley Ross because he arrogantly assumes that by reading one book about us, he automatically knows more than we do about our own history and origins.

Please, do not post any more of his e-mails.”

Jeff Atto

“I read the article in your magazine titled "Proud Assyrian of Lebanon" that was published in a Lebanese newspaper.

That article does not have a complete picture of Assyrian Lebanese current living situation. About 2 years ago, I visited Lebanon, my country that has become a banana republic.

My encounter with our people was wonderful. After almost twenty years of my absence, I was greeted very well. I felt wonderful. However, I was very unhappy to see our people living in poverty, unemployed, and at the mercy of others.

Assyrians in Lebanon are not OK. They are suffering daily. They don't have jobs because of two factors, one is political, and the other is qualification. Politically because they are Assyrian, and since they are Assyrian it is not important to others such as Lebanese government, or social agencies to help them, since they are not from their cultures or from their religion. Cultural and religious discrimination are well alive in Lebanon. For example, the Muslim Shia’s spend ten millions US dollars every month paying only to their people. The Druze organizations help only their people, the Armenian also do the same in helping their own people, as well the Muslim Sunni, and others as Maronite. They cover the cost of education, medicines, housing, food and other necessities.

The second obstacle is that they don't have much qualification, since their self-esteem is extremely low due to being poor and unable to go to school, college or university to specialize in a particular field of study. If you have a relative, or a friend, don't say they don't need your help! They will not ask you for help! It is you who have to understand that twenty years of war in Lebanon, which in my opinion has not yet ended, and the psychological pain and suffering caused by war and political objectives of others drove our people to be nobody. Their self-esteem has been destroyed, and I found hardly any Assyrian using his/her own Assyrian language. They are under mercy of others, like dogs waiting for their owners to give them food. That is the fact and the truth. Our Assyrian Lebanese are hopeless, and some of them even homeless, and many are mentally sick because of the twenty years of war, along with pain and suffering.

How can you help is a question that has a simple solution. I myself send every month about $75 US dollar to a relative. Sometimes I forward the funds as a lump sump which comes about $75 a month. My relative uses the fund to pay for education only. Personally, I spend $150 every month on coffee, and $40 on my magazines! You don't have to suffer to help your relative.

I call upon all Assyrian Lebanese to send fund to their relatives. Funds can be as low as $50 a month. Today average wages for an employed person in Lebanon is about $400 US a month. You can send them money easily, by UPS for example (secretly) and the fund can be there within three days, plus there are many ways to send your love to them. Your relatives may refuse your money, so, don't stop there. They need your help but they don't want you to see them that low! Help them to be alive now.

Assyrian Lebanese have no one to help them in Lebanon. All so called Assyrian organizations or churches cannot help. They may talk and talk, but their talking does not fill an empty stomach or send a child to school. It is now the duty of the Assyrian Lebanese living abroad to help. Will you do that? ”

Khoshaba Atniyal

Our regular contributor from California, Mr. Ramin Daniels, has submitted the following letter in response to an article published in the U.S. News and World Report magazine’s April 16th Issue, “The Triumph of Christianity…”. Mr. Daniels’ letter was published under a later issue’s LETTERS section:

“I read with interest your article on “the Triumph of Christianity…” Unfortunately, your “global” viewpoint is biased toward the West. Yes, the story of Christianity’s triumph is a fascinating one, but it happened in the West. In North Africa, Far East, and in its birthplace, the Middle East, Christianity is a marginalized and oft-persecuted religion. I urge you to take a look at the East where Christianity did not triumph, and explore the reasons why. I assure you that it is an equally fascinating story. ”

Surfers Corner


(ZNDA: New Jersey) On June 6, Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute launched Project eBeth Arké: The Syriac Digital Library. The project aims to bring 3,000 out-of-copyright books, journal articles, pictures, and audio recordings to the Internet in an eLibrary form. The Syriac name of the library, eBeth Arké, literally means 'house of archives' and denotes a library. The project is directed by Dr. George Kiraz.

The Institute initiated the project and is leading it in partnership with major university libraries, including Brigham Young University, The Catholic University of America, Brown University, Dumbarton Oaks Library, Princeton Theological Seminary, and others. Associated with the project is a Library Partnership program that gives public and private libraries the opportunity to complete their collections, or start a collection from the ground up.

Publications on Syriac studies are usually scattered over so many libraries and are hard to obtain. eBeth Arké will bring all this material to every library, classroom and home through the Internet. The eLibrary contains books like the work of the Maronite scholar Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis from 1719, to this date the most comprehensive survey of Syriac literature. Grammars and dictionaries are also featured such as Nöldeke’s Syrische Grammatik from 1880, with its English translation from 1904, and Smith’s Thesaurus Syriacus from 1879, with its English version Compendious Syriac Dictionary (1909). Included are the various editions and publications of the Chaldean scholar Paul Bedjan, the Catalogues of Wright, and many text editions by Cureton, Lamy, and others with English, German and French translations. Works from the Middle East and India are an important part of the eLibrary, such as the dictionaries of Toma Oudo from 1897 and Awgen Manna from 1900, and the grammar of the Syriac Catholic scholar Iqlimis Y. Daoud from 1896. Books on the late period are included such as Wigram's The Assyrians and Their Neighbours from 1929, and Southgate's Narrative of a Visit to the Syrian [Jacobite] Church of Mesopotamia from 1856. The 3,000 item collection will include publications in English, German, French, Syriac, Sourith, Arabic and other languages.

The project was welcomed by many scholars and libraries worldwide. "How frustrating it is that important literature on Syriac studies is scattered over so many periodicals and books, with the result that even a good library like Oxford University's Bodleian Library does not cover anything like the whole range," said Dr. Sebastian Brock, reader of Aramaic at Oxford's Oriental Institute. "To have all this material that is out of copyright collected together and made available in this way would be an immensely valuable service, not only to scholars working in this and the many related academic fields, but also to the wider public and above all, to people belonging to the different Churches of Syriac tradition," added Dr. Brock.

The Institute is making use of the latest in eBook technology. Books are being digitized using high quality digitization equipment. The images are then converted into eBook form, and when possible Optical-Character Recognition is applied in order to allow readers to search the text. Links are added from the table of contents and indices to pages, making navigation a click away. A Web version is created to allow readers borrow (i.e., download) eBooks from any place around the world. Sample eBooks are now available on the Institute's web page.

The scope of this project is not limited only to one readership. "The Syriac Digital Library Project," commented Prof. Susan Harvey of Brown University "speaks to needs shared by an entire spectrum, from scholar to interested reader, from student to one whose heritage this is. It is a worthy undertaking indeed."

Beth Mardutho is hiring two professional digital content firms whose task is the digitization of books, the creation of corresponding eBooks, and the building of a web-based virtual library. The average cost of digitizing a book is $250. The Institute calls upon individuals and institutions to adopt books in order to build this eLibrary of 3,000 items. Various contribution plans are available, giving everyone the opportunity to be part of the project. A secure on-line donation form is available on the project's home page.

For further information, to read sample eBooks, and to support this project, please visit www.bethmardutho.org (click on eBeth Arké).



(ZNDA: Toronto) The University of Toronto offers a number of credit courses in Syriac Studies at the undergraduate level. NMC-350Y (Syriac Literature in Translation) for example does not require any prior knowledge of Syriac. It will be offered in 2001-2002 on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 pm. The course surveys various literary genres, such as hymns, historiography (chronicles), hagiography (acts of Martyrs and lives of Syriac saints), spirituality and mysticism, etc. Such authors as Aphrahat and Ephrem (4th Century), Philoxenus of Mabbug and Babay (5th Century), Isaac of Nineveh (7th Century), Joseph Hazzaya (8th Century), Bar Hebraeus (13th Century) will be studies. Undergraduate students a the University of Toronto can enroll in it as an elective course. Call (416) 978-3184 or email a.harrak@utoronto.ca or click here.

Information provided by the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies Newsletter- Summer 2001


Appearing below is the Table of Contents for the forthcoming issue of JAAS. For subscription information and rates, please contact the AAS at: jaas@aas.net; or mail your request to:

Assyrian Academic Society
P.O. Box 3541
Skokie, IL 60076
(773) 461-6633

Forthcoming in July

Journal of the Assyrian Academic Society---Volume 13, No. 1, 2001

Table of Contents

I. English Section
Abdul-Massih Saadi
"From Survival to Revival: In the Aftermath of the Assyrian Genocide"

Eden Naby
"The Persian Cultural Setting and the Diversion of Assyrian Culture"

Peter BetBasso
"30 Assyrian Folk dances"

Abdul-Massih Saadi
"A Treasure Trove of Syriac Literature: Unearthing, Demystifying, and Cataloguing A Wealth of Manuscripts at the Lutheran School of Theology "

Oraham Yalda Oraham
"The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt in Us: A Homily by Mar Narsai (?-502 AD)."

II. Assyrian Section

Oraham Yalda Oraham
"Miltha Hwa Bisra Wag-ginban: Mimra de-Mar Narsai (?-502 AD)"
[The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt in Us: A Homily by Mar Narsai (?-502 AD)]

Zaia Canon
[Evening] This poem is translated from its original in Arabic written by Abu-Mathi.

Malko Khoshaba
"Qa’im de-zmerta Atureta" [Modern Assyrian Song]

III. Arabic Section
Saad Saadi
"Dirasa Etmologia Fi at-Tasmia as-Syriania" [Etmological Studies of Syriac Appellations]

Zaia Canon
"Abrohom Nuro wa Kitab 'Tawldotho'" [Abrohom Nuro and 'Tawldotho', a book analysis]

Saad Saadi
"Oufakkiro Fik" [Thinking of You]

Hurmiz Aboona
"Mathbahat Badr Khan fi Tiyari wa Hakkari" [Badr Khan Massacres in Tiyari and Hakkari]

Nadia E. Joseph



Did You Know that:

1. An Assyrian kingdom existed for nearly 1000 years after the Fall of Nineveh.

2. A patriarch of the Church of the East was not Assyrian, rather Mongolian.

3. One of the first modern newspapers in the Middle East was published by Assyrians.

4. Until a few hundred years ago Assyrian patriarchs could marry and have children.

5. Two out of every three Assyrian living in Iran, Turkey, and Iraq was killed or died of starvation and cold between 1914 and 1923.

The chronicles of the Assyrian nation after the Fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. are indeed some of the most fascinating chapters of world history.

How do we account for the survival of the Assyrian language, Christianity, and traditions in the Middle East?

When and why did the major Assyrian religious schisms happen in the past 2000 years?

How do we know that Assyrians survived the Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, and Mongol attacks on Bet-Nahrain?

Join Wilfred Alkhas, Editor of Zinda Magazine, for an intriguing visual presentation of the history of the Assyrian nation from the Fall of Nineveh until 2001. This unique class will include discussions, video, extensive handouts, a study-guide written by the instructor, and refreshments.

Registration Fee: $ 10.00

Mondays: 7:00-8:30 PM; July 9 - August 20 (seven sessions)
Location: 20000 Almaden Road, Assyrian American Association of San Jose Beta
No prior knowledge of Assyrian history required.

To register please email your name, address, and phone number to historyclass@zindamagazine.com.

Reflections on Assyria


Dr. Kelly Ross is a professor at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys, California. He teaches Philosophy with an emphasis on logic. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy and admits to not being an expert on Assyriology or Linguistics. You would think that this combination of skills would render a man philosophically averse and logically disinclined to make the sort of sweeping statements about us as he did. Dr. Ross apparently had a rather heated discussion with a student from our community and the upshot was that he produced a "paper" on the Ancient Assyrians in which he discounted our "claims" to any sort of greatness, while barely agreeing that we "might" exist. He did this in order to not waste class time on the subject again, to set the record straight, according to him and the Old Testament. This paper was also posted on a Philosophy Website he hosts, which is not affiliated with the College. Dr. Ross' basic position is that he likes us when we became Christians, but hates us before that because we were nasty to the Jews.

This was brought to our attention by Jeff Atto and posted where we could see it. Peter BetBasoo at "aina.org" set up an "e" campaign and the college received 150 "hits" ranging from the very learned to the "up yours" variety. Even one Aramaen ( Armenians who can't spell) wrote completely agreeing with Dr. Ross. We felt that some further response was called for from us, especially when Ross took out the more insulting passages and added an even bigger offense by claiming he had done so because it wasn't worth the "grief" of dealing with people like us. The head of the Faculty Senate, a Mr. Marzillier mailed us that they had given all the consideration they were going to and as far as the college was concerned, the matter was closed.

Our next step was to print petitions and appear at the state convention in Los Angeles over Memorial Day Weekend. Many more people signed the petition there and at the picnic on Monday. Tuesday was the start of finals week, but being Assyrians and having no sense of propriety at all, I appeared at 9:00 A.M. at the President's office. I told the reception staff I was there to see Dr. Wieder, that I WOULD see Dr. Wieder, and that I wasn't leaving until I SAW Dr. Wieder.( at this point several of you will be hiking your skirts up, climbing onto chairs and yelling..."it"s HIM, It"s Him again!!!).

The long and the short of it is that I met with Dr. Wieder, Dr. Carleo, Mr Marzillier and Dr. Ross. I was the only one not in white. We went round and round the subject for an hour and a half and finally agreed upon a debate, which they opted to call a "forum", to be moderated by Mr. Marzillier , with Dr. Ross and yours Trooly squaring off. We told them we did not want Dr. Ross to modify anything in his original paper, that we wished to place no chill on academic freedom. We simply wished to respond and provide a counter-argument alongside Dr. Ross' paper.

The debate will take place sometime in the first week or two of the fall semester at the college. Los Angeles Valley College is in the middle of a very Jewish neighborhood so there should be a good turn out. I fully expect our people, most of whom dislike me intensely (the feeling is mutual) to stay away in order to "show their disaproval". This will leave me in an auditorium full of Jews, attacking their Bible as a source of misinformation and gross inventions about the Assyrians (and a whole lot more). A good time should be had by all.

Fred Parhad



Is it proper for an educator to express his personal and defamatory opinions to a student when those opinions are on the ethnic identity of that student? Is it proper for and educator to express those opinions under the guise of scholarship?

The Assyrians don't think so, and they are hopping mad about Dr. Kelley Ross, a Philosophy teacher at the Los Angeles Valley College. Dr. Ross wrote a paper (http://aina.org/ross/ross-article.htm) specifically addressing the ethnic identity of Assyrians. In Dr. Ross own words, "I originally wrote these remarks in order to have something to which I could refer Assyrian students, who might make some of these claims in class, so that I wouldn't have to argue with them and waste time in class about it." What is disturbing about this sentence is its predatory intent. Dr. Ross seems to be targeting his Assyrians students

From a scholarly perspective, the article is poorly researched and cites dated sources. Dr. Ross admits that he is not a "specialist in ancient history, Assyriology, or linguistics", yet he does not hesitate to draw conclusions based on secondary and tertiary sources, make sweeping generalizations, and quickly pass judgment. Several Assyrians have contacted him, referring him to more authoritative and up to date sources, but he has summarily dismissed them.

The more fundamental issue is the tone of the article, which contains derisive, insulting and condescending language, bordering on racism. For example, Ross states: "Beyond the questions of ethnic mixture or purity, it might strike one as unseemly that Christians should be at pains to get too excited over descent from a people who not only were not Christians but whose terror and brutality were a byword in the ancient world". The most important, yet subtle, transgression in this statement betrays Ross's true feelings: he uses the word "Christian" to refer to Assyrians, implicitly denying their ethnic identity, and proceeds to question their link to their ancestors. Why should an Assyrian think it unseemly to have pride in his heritage, which predates Christianity? Should an Assyrian discard his pre-Christian heritage? Do we ask the Greeks to discard their pre-Christian heritage? What impression would Assyrian students in Ross's class receive upon being told this by their instructor, whom they perceive as an authority figure? They surely would walk away feeling ashamed of their own heritage.

In another passage, Ross states: "This was a typical example of exemplary terror in Assyrian policy, measures that could not even be portrayed today outside of horror movies, but boasted of by the King. In Sacred History, where it involved Israel, this would make the Assyrians as much the moral equivalent of Babylon, Pharaoh, and worse -- not even Hitler got rid of so large a percentage of all Jews." Upon reading this kind of diatribe, one begins to seriously question Ross's motivations. This passage, with its comparison of Assyrians to Nazis, can hardly be construed as scholarly, yet it is passed of as such.

The principle of academic freedom is crucial and vital to the pursuit of scientific research, as researchers should be free to explore ideas without censure and without limits. But one gets the feeling that this is not what is going on in this case; there is clearly a biased tone -- an Old Testament, religious based perspective of Assyrians is being presented in the guise of academics. Since Ross is a teacher of Philosophy, one questions why this religious perspective is being taught.

Dr. Ross has responded to Assyrian criticisms dismissively. He has removed the offensive article from his web site, and replaced it with the following Editorial Note: "I have withdrawn this part of the page because, really, it isn't worth the grief. I am not interested in offending the Assyrians. If they can't tolerate some criticism, this may of itself make my point about proprietary ethnic claims." In other words, he did not change his opinion, he merely wishes to avoid the inconvenience, and secondly, he reasserts his original, offensive hypothesis (that Assyrians have a bogus ethnicity) based on their "behavior" and reaction to his article. Mister Ross is showing no remorse or change of heart in his reply. As a matter of fact, Ross has published a letter from a non-Assyrian which supports his views, and which contains web links to various anti-Assyrian sites (see here http://www.friesian.com/assyrian.htm)

Paragraph II of the Los Angeles Valley College Code of Academic Rights and Responsibilities (http://www.lavc.cc.ca.us/ethics.html ) states that "faculty members demonstrate respect for the student as an individual, and adhere to their proper role as intellectual guides and counselors." When Ross compares Assyrians to Nazis and belittles, insults and ridicules them, how can this not be construed as disrespect for his Assyrian students (and a violation of Paragraph II)?

Two Assyrians, Fred Parhad and I, have been in official contact with Ross and his superiors. The first reaction we received was less than warm, and the subject was unilaterally declared "closed" by Leon Marzillier, Academic Senate President (see here for full details: http://aina.org/ross/kross2.htm). This memorial weekend we gathered 1200 signatures on a petition and hand delivered it to the president of L.A.V.C on Tuesday (5/29). The president, Dr. Tyree Weider, along with Kelley Ross, Leon Marzillier, and Harold Ravitch (Head of Philosophy Department), graciously met with Fred Parhad. Kelley Ross did not change his position. There is much work to do here. All parties agreed to a "debate" to be hosted on the college campus, although the rules, format and topic have not been agreed to.

It is disturbing to learn that this kind of hate mongering, by an educator in a publicly funded college, still exists in our time. Assyrians have a large population in Los Angeles (17,000) and many of their students attend the Los Angeles Valley College (at least one Assyrian student has taken Ross’s class and been exposed to his views). It is not only Assyrians that are exposed to this kind of hate-mongering, it is the community in which the Assyrians must live and work; through the pervasive reach of the internet (where Ross published his article) this community is made even larger. Assyrians expect their culture, history and ethnicity be afforded the same respect and consideration given to other minorities. It is not much to ask for.

Peter BetBasoo


Assyrian Surfing Posts

Nestorian Grave Stone in Frunze, Kirghistan

Gateways to Babylon

Pump Up the Volume

Jealousy Khas/sa/moo/ta Feminine Khassamta d’khassama: Jealousy of the jealous
Violence Qar/soo/ta Feminine Takhmanyate qarseh: Violent thoughts



(ZNDA: Chicago) On May 19, 2001, Paul Davis Newev. former chief investigator for Cook County States Attorney Benjamin Adamowski (1956-1960), and a Senior Counselor of the Illinois State Bar and the Chicago Bar Association, was presented with a Baker Street Tankard Award by Hugo’s Companions, one of several local chapters of the Baker Street Irregulars in the Chicagoland area. The Companions were founded in 1949.

Mr. Newey, An Assyrian resident of Chicago, was honored by the venerable club as one who “hungers and thirsts after justice for justice sake.”

The prestigious award followed publication of a cover story written by Ben Joravsky and Richard Lindberg about Mr. Newey in the Chicago Reader. In it, the writers recounted Mr. Newey’s distinguished career in federal and local law enforcement, and revealed for the first time, the startling information that the Federal Bureau of Investigation deliberately withheld information from Newey that a faction of Chicago organized crime had targeted him for assassination in 1960.

At the time, Mr. Newey was exposing corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of Chicago city government, and was placed in harm’s way by “outfit” hoodlums operating in connivance with a highly placed official within City Hall.

Mr. Newey reluctantly concluded that all of this was done for the express purpose of enhancing the reputation of the late J. Edgar Hoover, at the expense of his own life. No direct attempt on the life of Mr. Newey was ever made, however, and he entered private law practice following the defeat of Mr. Adamowski in the 1960 general election.

This sensitive information came into Mr. Newey’s possession several years ago, when a team of researchers who were assisting him on a book project about the life and times of the late Richard Cain, stumbled upon these de-classified FBI documents at a govermnent archive in College Park, Maryland.

Mr. Newey then approached author and journalist Richard Lindberg. who authored the original drafts and guided the story to final publication, a process that took two full years.

Mr. Newey was greatly honored to receive the award from the Companions, and afterward he explained to assembled members and guests the curious history of the tankard, while N4r. Lindberg related the essential facts of the case.

Back to the Future

132 (B.C.)

The last Assyrian royal dynasty was founded at the city of Urhai (Edessa). The famous kings of this dynasty (referred to as the Osrhoene kings by Romans) were the Abgars of whom the most famous is the contemporary of Jesus Chrisit. Known as Abgar Okama (Black), he is said to have corresponded with Christ who remotely treated his leprosy.

Histoire Politizue, Religieuse et Litteraire d’Edesse, Duval

1888 (A.D.)

The first astronomical cuneiform texts were found by J. Epping, J.N. Strassmaier, and F.X. Kuglar. The texts were dated by Babylonians to the birth of individuals dating from 410 B.C. to 69 B.C. in which the sequence of the planetary positions are given as Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Mars - nearly two thousand years before the time of Copernicus and Galileo.

Babylonian Horoscopes, Bochberg

This Week In History

JUNE 12, 1894

Born, Malik Yacub d’Malik Ismael in the village of Chamikta. As an Assyrian tribal and military leader, Malik Yacub played an important role during the events of the two world wars in the past century.


Calendar of Events

 Share your local events with Zinda readers.    Email us or send fax to:  408-918-9201


Dance Party



June 17

Hosted by the Assyrian Church of the East
under the patronage of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV

Hanging Gardens Banquet 
8301 W. Belmont, River Grove

Deadline for registration is June 10, 2001 
Click here, then print, complete and mail the application 
For more information call:   Tina Yousif               847-699-1931 
                                         Shmeran Youkhana   773-465-1629 
                                         Sarah Royal              773-777-7370 
                                         Jenny Soro                847-470-9786 

June 24

Sponsored by: 
Assyrian Academic Society 
Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation 
Assyrian American Civic Club of Chicago 

6:30 PM
Eden 's Banquet Hall 
6313 N. Pulaski (Between Peterson & Devon) 

Ticket Price: $30

To reserve/purchase tickets call: 

Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation
Homer Ashurian:   773-274-9262 

Assyrian American Civic Club of Chicago 
Joseph Tamraz:     773-743-4027 

Assyrian Academic Society 
Tony Khoshaba: 630-285-0633

June 25-27

Conference Under one sky: "Astronomy and Mathematics in the ancient Near East- Babylonian and Egyptian astronomy and its mathematical background"

Contact Department of the Ancient Near East
British Museum

July 2-6

International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology 
"Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East"
University of Helsinki

Registration Form:  click here

Until July 15

" Between the Tigris and the Euphrates: Mesopotamia" 

About 300 artworks on loan from Le Louvre in Paris celebrate the great civilization of Mesopotamia. The show spans different periods, from the emergence of the first villages of the Fertile Crescent during the neolithic period to the encounter with the Greeks and Alexander the Great. 

For more information: (2) 2361-0270

Closed Mondays!

July 22 

A festival celebrating the descent of the god Tammuz to the Underworld and the end of spring in Bet-Nahrain.  It is customary to sprinkle water on friends and family members, wishing for Tammuz' safe return to his beloved Ishtar.

August 7

A day to commemorate the Assyrian martyrs throughout history.

August 28 - Sept 3

September 19

The Zi-Pang Trio
The Kufa Gallery
26 Westbourne Grove

Entrance Free
Contact  fran@hazelton.greatxscape.net

November 8 thru
March 17, 2002

Revealing Agatha Christie the archaeologist and how her discoveries in the Near East influenced her detective writing. 

The hitherto unknown interests and talents of the great crime writer are told through archaeological finds from the sites on which she worked with her husband Max Mallowan at Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Important objects from these sites in the Museum's collections are combined with archives, photographs, and films made by Agatha Christie herself. 

Personal memorabilia and souvenirs of travel in a more leisurely age are only some of the exhibits which range from first editions of those novels inspired by her other life to a sleeping compartment from the Orient Express, from a lethal 1930s hypodermic syringe to a priceless first millennium ivory of a man being mauled to death 

Admissions £7, Concessions £3.50

West Wing Exhibition Gallery Room 28

November 17-20


Middle East Studies Association of North America Panel
"The Assyrians of Iran - From Contributions to Diaspora" 
co-sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society
& the Society for Iranian Studies

Hyatt Regency Hotel, San Francisco

Dr. Arian Ishaya - Urmia to Baquba: From the Cradle of Water to Wilderness 
Dr. Eden Naby -: Zahrira d Bahra - The First Newspaper in Iran 
Dr. K. Shakeri - Living in Purgatory: The Assyrians of Iran in the Twentieth Century 
Mr. Ronald Thomaszadeh - Iranian Assyrians in the Azarbaijan Crisis of 1945-46 
Discussant:   Prof. Houshang Chahabi - political science - Boston University 

Zinda Article:  CLICK HERE
For more information CLICK HERE

November 21-23

Sponsored by the British School of Archaeology in Iraq
British Museum's Clore Centre
Gt Russell St WC1

Cost To Be Determined

Contact Dept of Ancient Near East 020 7323 8315
or email:  TheBSAI@aol.com, tel 01440 785244.

Coincides with Ancient Near East week at the British Museum: 
"Whodunnit in Assyria. For full details contact: Sam Moorhead, Education
Department, The British Museum, London WC1B 3DG, tel. 020-7323-8432

November 24

Sponsored by Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS)
Five Lectures on the Origins of Syriac Christianity
Syriac hymns by two Church Choruses
Middle Eastern Food
University of Toronto
More information to be provided in the upcoming issues

Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Dr. George Kiraz
(New Jersey)

Petr Kubalek
(Czech Republic)



ZINDA Magazine is published weekly.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of  the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals.  ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium.  All letters and messages  require the name(s) of sender and/or author.  All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s).    Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news.  To subscribe, send e-mail to:  z_info@zindamagazine.com.

Zinda Magazine™ Copyright © Zinda Inc., 2001 - All Rights Reserved