On the Eve of the Return of Tammuz
The Assyrian year 6757 is officially upon us. Tammuz is back from a few months of “hellish” life in the Netherworld only to find life on earth equally revolting. His Babylon is not the same, neither is his Nineveh. Even the ruins of these two capitols are more dismal now than they were a few years back. It’s getting worse every year, he may be saying to himself: “Bring back the dictators who respected the Past, the vultures who built and did not destroy, the killers who murdered when told and not when paid.”
On the bright side of things to come there is something so intriguing about the new year beginning on the first day of spring. For those of us living in the northern hemisphere we are visually satisfied as simple images of flowers blooming and trees blossoming remind us of nature’s return to life. It is a beatiful end to a series of dull and morbid events mired in death and pain.
In the very very old days, when just kings ruled Mesopotamia and brave queens defended the rights of our ancestors in battles across the lands of Ashur and Babil, people experienced the same calamities as we do now. They saw foreign armies invade their homeland, alien rulers changing the names of their cities and towns – even historic events were erased from memories, strangers forced our forefathers to convert to new beliefs and so on. However, every year on the first day of Spring, the blooming flowers and the trees reminded them that in the midst of darkness light exists and in the midst of despair hope exists. No matter how powerful, prosperous,or dominant the enemies appeared, at the end Marduk always won. He fought a good fight and victory was his and his people’s. The land of Ashur was returned to its righteous owners until the next cycle of death and rebirth.
These days I find myself spending too many hours asking our activists, artists, authors, leaders, and guides to believe again and to have faith in our future. Many among us, even the best and the strongest, are gradually losing their confidence and in the power of the people. People don’t care any more, they say. They just watch and read, but don’t act. My response is always the same: “Ordinary people watch and do not act. It’s the extra-ordinary people, the Marduks, Ishtars, and Tammuzes among us that stood tall before the enemy and pushed them back to the Zagros Mountains, Anatolia, and the Mediterranean Sea.”
This feeling of despair is the effect of a prolonged lack of guidance from our political chiefs. They are confused and unable to lead. Some of them are engaging directly with the Kurdish leadership in an attempt to win some favor should there be a confrontation between the Arabs and the Kurds, Sunni and the Shi’ai, Moslems and Christians in Iraq. Some are trying to create alliances with the Kurds, against other Assyrian groups, and still calling it a “diplomatic strategy” while keeping a straight face. I admit that the situation is dire.
Less than a month ago, Dr. Emmanuel Kamber resigned from his post as the Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (click here). Zinda has learned that the Executive Board of the AUA is now considering attending Sargon Dadesho’s 8th Meeting of the Assyrian National Congress. How warm is this AUA-Dadesho relationship, you ask? Dadesho has been sending invitations on behalf of the AUA Asia Secretary, Mr. Yonatan Bet-Kolia, to individuals in the Bush Administration and the State Department.
The miracle of miracles. The man whose mouth foamed on Friday nights on his one-man television shows, insulting every fiber of the AUA and its affiliates, including the Assyrian American National Federation, may be sitting next to the AUA surplus members this coming weekend and discuss national unity, an Assyrian parliament, Miss Assyria contests, and a new world order according to “Chairman Dadesho”. However, behind the closed doors there will be a different agenda discussed. One that involves the munificence of Masoud Barzani and his Assyrian devotee, Sarkis Aghajan, the darling of the Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac patriarchs.
Dadesho has been stirring conflict between the Assyrian Church of the East and the supporters of the most popular Assyrian political party in Iraq, the Assyrian Democratic Movement or Zowaa, by labeling the latter “anti-Assyrian” and “followers of an ex-bishop”. AUA’s attendance of this meeting will be nothing less than a complete blunder, a mistake that should be viewed as a direct challenge to the ADM in Iraq and the ADO in Syria.
Dadesho’s extremist form of Assyrianism that does not include Chaldeans and Syriacs unless they disavow their former selves and become new-born “Ashurayeh” is racist and should not be acknowledged. Sadly for the Assyrian Church of the East, through a close contact between its reckless bishops in Australia and Europe the Church is now also seen as a pawn played by this “Assyrian Rasputin.”
The Assyrian identity is inclusive of any heritage that traces itself to that of ancient Mesopotamian and Syrian cultures. While some Assyrian extremists deny their Chaldean and Syriac past, a true Assyrian embraces these jewels of his or her heritage and lovingly receives others who profess a common origin. Imagine the rainbow without any of its concentric bands of multi colors; neither can I perceive of my Assyrian identity without the full spectrum of my religious and linguistic tones.
Dadesho’s meeting in Ceres, California is planned to follow another worthless meeting which took place last week in Ankawa, near Arbil in north Iraq. At the end of this earlier meeting, where several Assyrians known publicly for collaborating with the Kurdish Regional Government met to discuss the future of the Nineveh Plains in a place outside of the Nineveh Plains, a final statement was released. No fireworks or delightful surprises here either. Yet again, it was the behind the closed doors negotiations and hand-shakes that mattered the most. Thanks to this gathering, the collaborators are now marked.
Before Tammuz begins strolling through the ancient Assyrian cities of Arbil, Nineveh, and Kirkuk, let us be very clear about a few important points on this first day of the Assyrian New Year:
First, Assyrians are impatient with the U.S. government and especially the State Department that seemingly is acting as the facilitator of the annexation of the Nineveh Plains to the KRG-controlled areas in North Iraq. The Bush Administration is using the excuse of avoiding the Moslems’ wrath against the Christians to force Christians out of Iraq and either into the hands of the Kurds or in refugee camps across the Iraqi borders. The only entities profiting from this policy are the Churches whose payng membership in the diaspora will increase and the immigration lawyers (yes, Assyrian) who will be busy processing the refugees' paperwork in the next five years. Some 7,000 visas have already been issued to Iraqi refugees this year.
Second, a significant majority of the Assyrians in north Iraq are not members of the Church of the East. Neither they nor most Assyrians in the Diaspora are willing to live under a Millet system whereby the headship of the Assyrian nation is assumed by a Patriarch. Attention the Assyrian Hezbollahs defending the leadership of Mar Dinkha last week in Ankawa! Your place is in Qom or Karbala, not in the Nineveh Plains. Assyrians have come a long way not to return 300 years back to the time of Ottoman rule. Repeat this mantra of the new Assyrianism over and over again in Assyrian and in Kurdish: No religious patriarch shall ever become the political or temporal head of the Assyrian nation again.
Third, if one or more AUA members attend this weekend’s “Dadesho Fest” in California, their decision to participate should not be perceived as a new direction for the Assyrian Universal Alliance. Sources to Zinda Magazine indicate that the AUA is now split among several party lines from the old rank-and-file and the new “Kurdish collaborators” who have aligned themselves with the Assyrian Rasputin. Former Assyrian representative to the Iranian Majlis, Mr. Homer Ashurian and former State Senator and AUA Secretary General, Mr John Nimrod are opposed to participation of the AUA members at the 8th meeting of the ANC. So are Mr. Simon Mirza, Mr. Pierre Toulakany and Mr. Shmouel Warda. These men have also held executive roles in the Assyrian American National Federation – an organization vilified by Dadesho.
Fourth, if any member of the Bush Administration or the State Department staff attends the meeting in California, in response to the invitation of Mr. Yonatan Bet-Kolia, the current Assyrian representative in the Iranian Majlis, then the U.S. officials are attending an event in response to an Iranian government official. The repercussions of such an act, shortly after the UN threats against Iran, will have grave impact on the well-being of the Assyrians living in Iran. Zinda Magazine has learned that Mr. Bet-Kolia’s request for visa to enter the U.S. was denied earlier.
On 1 March Mr. Praidon Darmo, Acting Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance emailed members of the executive board and informed them that Dr. Kamber resigned a few weeks prior to the next AUA Congress in April when he and Dr. Kamber were planning to submit their resignation and a new Executive Board would be elected. Mr. Darmo indicates in his email that he had asked to resign 6 months earlier, but his request was dismissed by Dr. Kamber.
Mr. Darmo has called for an emergency meeting just prior to the ANC meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to elect a new Executive Board which will decide whether to attend Dadesho’s meeting.
Mr. Darmo was the subject of a Zinda Magazine’s investigative report on January 29 th (click here). On Wednesday, January 17, he and Mr. Fawzi Hariri, a senior Assyrian member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the appointed Minister of Industry in Baghdad, met with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and her staff. The result of the meeting was the Congresswoman’s temporary shelving of the congressional resolution, called the Nineveh Plains Resolution, that would support the creation of an administrative area for Assyrians and other minorities in northern Iraq.
The report has since set off a fire-storm between different groups in the AUA. One group accuses Darmo of defacing the AUA by meeting with Rep. Eshoo on a crucial issue without the full consent of the Executive Board, while others praise him for being tough on the indecisive Assyrian-Kurdish relations. Less than a month after the publication of the Zinda report, Dr. Kamber resigned from his post. Mr. Darmo has since threatened to take legal action against Zinda Magazine for publishing this report.
Confused? Then please permit me to summarize the current situation for the returning deity, Tammuz, who is about to explore Mesopotamia in the next six months prior to his return to the Underworld. This synopsis, I hope, may shed some light on this situation for the mortal readers of my unforgiving opinion:
There are two competing visions for “Assyria” today: one is a vision of complete administrative autonomy in the region called the Nineveh Plains, the other is a vision of existence under Kurdish control. The first group – let’s call them the Idealists – believe in a fully democratic house of Iraq, built upon the four major pillars of Assyrian, Kurdish, Sunni and Shi’ai populations. Neither of these groups controls the human and natural resources of the other and all are equally subject to the will of the central government, democratically represented in Baghdad. The second group – the Collaborators – believe the Idealists are naïve in believing that a Christian state can ever exist autonomously in the Middle East. They propose working with the Kurds (not the Arabs) to form a semi-autonomous region under the Kurdish rule which can be protected against extremist Moslems in case of an all-out civil war in Iraq.
The Collaborators in turn are split into two groups: one that wishes to see a civilian authority in the Nineveh Plain reporting to Arbil and the other group – whom I have nicknamed the Assyrian Hezbollahs– who believe in the temporal leadership of the Assyrian Church of the East patriarch, Mar Dinkha IV.
Who are these Collaborators? They are primarily successful land and business owners from Chicago, California, and London pursuing long-term trade and business relationships with the Kurdish authorities in north Iraq. Some have already been identified as former Baathist collaborators. With Saddam gone, they have turned to the Kurdish Regional Government and Masoud Barzani's KDP. Whether collaborating with Saddam or Barzani, the last thing on their senseless minds is the future of the Assyrian heritage, language, and history. Thanks to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, working with the Kurds has afforded them ample opportunity for making money in north Iraq. These parasites from Chicago in particular, cloaking themselves under the tunic of the Patriarch of the Church of the East, travel regularly abroad to receive the blessings of their new Assyrian superiors working for the Kurdish government.
The Assyrian Hezbollahs in turn have a network of closer personal ties and kinship within the collaborators group, mainly tied to the Patriarch’s tribal group – the Nochiyas (click here). These include Mr. Fawzi Hariri, Mr. Sarkis Aghajan, Mr. Praidon Darmo and many working in Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Where do AUA, ADM, Dadesho, you and I fit into this picture then?
The real question is, of course, how does Washington think we fit into this kaleidoscope? With the backing of the Pentagon (since Condoleezza Rice has intensely warmed up to the idea of a Kurdish State) anything is possible. But the support of Pentagon also means the Christian West helping the Christian East. Another Crusade is all Tammuz can handle before he permanently decides to stay in the Underworld.
The AUA and the ADM, you and I, must heed the lessons of history and remember the golden rule of the regional balancing of power: love thy neighbor and love his enemy even more.
The new Executive Board of the AUA, the less ambitious ADM leaders in Iraq, and you and I should be considering all options before the return of Tammuz in Fall 2007. But instead of Ceres, California, we should be turning our heads to Ankara, Tehran, and Damascus to establish "selective partnerships" from among all our Moslem neighbors who are the real centers of power in the region. These governments share the same interest as Assyrians do – a stable Iraq is in their best interest.
Collaboration with the Kurds may save us in the near future, but the same history books remind us of what the Kurds have done to their Christian neighbors, over and over again, when forced under the pressure of Turkey and Iran. The Kurdish regional government is already preventing Assyrian businesses from using Assyrian names or putting up signs using the Assyrian language on the front of their stores. The owners of these businesses were informed that they could only use Kurdish or English. The State Department continues to go easy on Kurdish leaders’ human rights abuses.
No region administered by the Assyrians under the direct control of any other "regional" power in Iraq can ever be called AUTONOMOUS. The autonomous region of the Nineveh Plains shall be only subject to the direct influence of a central government of Iraq. Arbil is not Baghdad and the Nineveh Plains under the Kurdish control is not an Assyrian region.
It will not take long before Tammuz realizes that the people of Ashur are facing very difficult times. The dispute over the future of the Nineveh Plains has exposed divisions within our political and religious layers since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
For every Assyrian writer decrying the dangers of mass exodus from our homeland, pummeled by threats and lawsuits, there will always be an immigration lawyer relishing the opportunity offered by the 7,000or more visas granted to Iraqi refugees.
For every Father Yusuf Akbulut there will always be a double-crossing bishop like Mor Severios Hazail Soumi of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who defends his Turkish masters and denies the Assyrian Genocide.
For every ADO leader jailed in Damascus for speaking against tyranny, there will always be a Fawzi Hariri speaking against the Assyrian rule in the Assyrian homeland. The oil pumping through the pipes from Kirkuk speak louder than my editorials, I am afraid.
Call me crazy. Call me a romantic. But I tend to agree with the Idealists that a greater willingness to take a tough line with Arbil and Baghdad is necessary without souring any alliances. As Assyrians and Christians we will always be vulnerable to the social and political abuse from our neighbors in the Middle East. Neutrality is therefore essential, as is our strength in numbers. Attending any meeting that would further polarize our power is a mistake, so is the blind pursuit of religious authority under any condition.
Affiliations may shift over and over again; Baathists become Barzanists, qibla moves from Baghdad to the new epicenter of conflict - Arbil, mavericks are accepted as the establishment, and the seekers of truth are punished for their dutiful love of a forgotten people. So stop wallowing in despair and let’s fight a good fight. The promise of Spring, Neesan, Tammuz, Easter, and the cyclical reality we call life is the same. At the end, Marduk always wins, Ishtar blesses the land with blossoms and newborns, and the occupiers of Assyria surrender to the followers of Ashur. Such is the promise of Neesan, the source of inspiration of all that we do and fight for - every day.
Happy Kha b’Neesan 6757!
The Assyrian Genocide Memorial Wall
Shaded by trees, an outdoor courtyard nestled in the center of St. Mary’s Parish in Tarzana,
And then the magic began. Brick by brick. Layer upon layer. Those coarse raw inanimate
But how can a Wall made of mortar and concrete speak of anything that can jar the emotions?
An old inhabitant of the courtyard that lived across from this newly erected Wall was a multitiered
By 10:00 a.m., the air began to thicken with sounds distinctly familiar. Crowds of Assyrians and
The winter sun kept its promise of a warm day as rows of white chairs began to fill. Countering
Photographers and filmographers stirred about snapping pictures and capturing the moments.
The ceremony began with a Parade. Students from the Assyrian American Catholic School,
Father George delivered the Opening Prayer and then signaled for the unveiling. The massive
A waterfall softly splashing the Assyrian Flag set in glass tile in a double fountain framed by two
A beautiful blue sky with patches of soft white clouds became the perfect backdrop for the
A quiet gasp from the audience. Tearing eyes hiding behind sunglasses. Young students from
The splendor of the moment was completed when Father George lit the two brass torches. The
The engraving on the dedication plaque in black marble read:
THE ASSYRIAN GENOCIDE MEMORIAL WALL
The soft rippling water that flowed into the pool below the Wall was already speaking for the
That morning, I spoke of the slow continuous genocide that has gripped our nation. It began
Mr. Yosip Bet-Yosip, presented a poem in Assyrian entitled Assyrian Exodus of 1918 recounting
Mr. Dennis P. Zine, a Los Angeles City Councilman of the third Council District spoke of his
promise to support the Assyrian effort now that he was made aware of the issues both past and
Representing the Assyrian Universal Alliance, Mr. Ninoos Benjamin presented Father George with a Crystal Cross in gratitude for the building of this Assyrian Memorial. Mr. Edwin Tekmar was also acknowledged with a plaque in appreciation of his work in overseeing the construction of the Wall.
The Assyrian American Christian School Choir performed The Assyrian Wall Song and the event concluded with Father George’s Closing Prayer.
As the courtyard observed the parting guests returning to their daily lives, the quiet of early afternoon descended upon it.
Turning to leave, I saw an Assyrian woman with an apron still on sitting at the back near the
Before leaving, I stood in the middle of the courtyard one last time and closed my eyes for a
The Persecution of the Copts and the Plight of Christians in the Middle-East
Joining the list of keynote speakers at an open forum discussing the persecution of the Copts and the plight of Christians in the Middle-East, Rosie Malek-Yonan, author of The Crimson Field, spoke about the Assyrian Genocide and the current treatment of Assyrian Christians in the Middle-East. Other noted speakers included Dr. Wafa Sultan on religious minorities in the Middle-East, author Nonie Darwish on terrorism in the Middle-East, writer Ahmed Abaza, and journalist Mohammad Ghazoly. The event was sponsored by The Truth Broadcasting Network and held at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in Southern California on Saturday, February 24, 2007.
Deliver Us From Evil…
Good and Evil lives in everyone. The choice is ours.
Everyday, I pray for my people in Occupied Assyria. You know it as Iraq. I am one of them. I am one of the Christians of Occupied Assyria. Though I’d rather be called an Assyrian, for I was Assyrian long before I became Christian. My nation was the first to accept Christianity in the first century A.D.
Throughout the centuries, my nation has had to endure a lot for its Christian faith. Christianity for the Assyrians in the Middle-East has been a double edge sword. We have been persecuted for it and it has saved our identity.
I take the Iraq War personally because a war is raging against my nation, the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, the original inhabitants of the land between the two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. I am from that cradle of civilization, yet today civilization is crumbling in its own cradle.
I’ve never been to Iraq, my ancestral homeland, but my thoughts drift there everyday since America, the country I call home, invaded it in 2003 without the slightest consideration and empathy for what this war would mean to the Christians of the region. Any war in the Middle-East, will inevitably become a religious war.
In June of 2006, I was invited to Washington D.C. to give a testimony on Capitol Hill about the plight of the Assyrians of Iraq. I testified about the results of the U.S. imposed democracy upon Iraq and its direct effect on the Assyrians.
We all witnessed the ongoing civil war in Iraq progressing at a fantastic pace, while Washington’s continual denial baffled us with catchphrases such as, “We’re winning the war!” What was clear to me was that this great nation of ours had no idea what it was dealing with when it came to the Middle-East.
There are about four million Assyrians worldwide with the largest concentration in Iraq. Before the war, 1.4 million Assyrians lived in Occupied Assyria as one of Iraq’s minorities representing about 3% of the population. Today less than 700,000 Assyrians remain in terrorist-driven democratic Iraq.
I don’t have to be in Iraq to understand the pain my Assyrian nation is enduring. Assyrians are not the only minority under siege in Iraq, but I have a spiritual bond to my own people and naturally feel their pain. It’s personal.
Reciting my habitual Lord’s Prayer, one morning I stumbled on the line Deliver us from evil... I chanted it repeatedly, selfishly wanting God to hear my prayer over everyone else’s. I wanted God to deliver the Assyrians from the evil that besieges them because I can’t find noble men with courage to do that.
The Assyrian news is flooded with accounts of lives devastated. The images haunt me. And then I think about what it must be like for those who see with their own eyes. I prayed for Ayad Tariq, a fourteen-year-old Assyrian from Baquba who cried, “Yes, I am Christian, but I am not a sinner” while Moslem insurgents chanted, “Allah-u akbar!” and beheaded him.
I prayed for Father Paulos Eskandar, the Metropolitan of Mosul. Kidnapped for ransom, he was beheaded and had his arms and legs hacked off. I don’t have to know him to feel the moments of fear that gripped him before his decapitation.
I prayed for the crucified fourteen-year-old boy from the Assyrian neighborhood of Albasra whose name I don’t even know. He was Assyrian. That makes him my brother.
I prayed for my Assyrian sisters choosing to commit suicide after being abducted for ransom and raped by Islamists. I feel the terror of the hours they were gang-raped. I wrote about this practice of suicide in my novel, The Crimson Field, when during the 1914-1918 Assyrian Genocide young Assyrian women chose death over submission to Islam. I never imagined I’d write and speak about it again so soon.
I prayed for the courage of 22 year-old Luanna, an Assyrian woman, who came forward with her own story after being raped by an Iraqi soldier following a raid on the house she shared with her brother. When Luanna’s brother, Khalil, discovered she was pregnant, he took her to get an abortion.
I prayed for the 30 bombed Assyrian churches. These were not casualties of war. They resulted from a deliberate and systematic religious war targeting Assyrians who represent the face of Christianity in the age-old war of the sword against the cross.
Yoel and his father Emmanuel worked as interpreters for the Coalition Forces in Habbaniya when they were kidnapped. Yoel’s mother paid the $20,000 ransom with donations from relatives in America and Sweden. It’s been over a year since the release of Yoel, who is still awaiting and holding on to hope that his father, too, may be returned.
Clearly, Yoel’s father will not return. But what do you say to a son who wants nothing more than to look into the eyes of his father.
The Assyrian nation that has remained an enigma since the fall of the Assyrian Empire, still faces what I call a continual slow genocide that began long before the Iraq War.
In 1895 in Diyarbekir, an estimated 55,000 Assyrians were killed and another 100,000 were forcibly Islamasized.
This event paved the way for the Assyrian Genocide in the shadows of WWI where two-thirds
In 1933 the Assyrian Genocide’s resurrection was in the form of Iraq’s Semele Massacre of 3,000 unarmed Assyrian men, women and children by the Iraqi army and Kurdish warlords. This would be the first of many attacks on Assyrians in Iraq.
The 1979 the Iran Revolution saw a huge migration of the Christian population from Iran. It also witnessed the persecution of countless Assyrians and the destructions of lives of young and old for no other reason than their faith.
The 1991 gulf war and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq brought back the attacks on the Assyrians once more because they are symbolic of Christianity in insurgent dominated Iraq.
This violence against Assyrians that has now escalated with the liberation of Iraq, shows no visible signs that the crimes against the Christians in Iraq will let up any time soon. Today a systematic ethnic cleansing of the Assyrian Christians has once again picked up momentum in Iraq.
Washington’s decision to rid the world of evil thrust America into the battlefields of Baghdad. In the process Assyrians were delivered into the clutches of a greater evil than that to which they had ever been subjected during Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror.
But the protection of the Assyrian Christians never entered into this equation before the invasion of Iraq. The Assyrians were of no importance. They were a 3% minority whose voices could be ignored.
In 1921 the British and the French molded Iraq out of the vestiges of the Ottoman Empire in a region rich in ancient Assyrian history, artifacts, and culture. The original inhabitants of that land, the region’s 1.4 million Christian population, which has today been reduced to about 700,000, are not just antiquated remnants of the past. They are living breathing legitimate heirs to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates.
The highly anticipated Baker-Hamilton Commission Report earlier this year, disregarded the Assyrian ethnic cleansing in Iraq by referring to one of the world’s oldest nations as nothing but a mere footnote, contributing to the continual negation of the human rights of this most vulnerable nation. The denial of the Assyrian massacres in Iraq mirrors the denial of the Assyrian Genocide of World War One.
Regardless of the ongoing conflict between the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds, the attacks on Assyrians are not isolated incidents, but systematic patterns of aggression targeting that nation.
It doesn’t take much to provoke Islamic violence. Any excuse will do. From caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address in Germany last year in which the Pontiff coupled Islam with violence, there was an immediate rise of attacks on Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Attacks on university students. Priests carted off for ransom and beheaded. Young Assyrian women harassed and assaulted. Infants snatched from their mothers and burned.
As a portrait of a new and improved but chaotic democratic Iraq emerges, it witnesses the thousands of Assyrian families fleeing their homeland in the largest mass exodus this century has witnessed while the ongoing campaign of terror against Christians in Iraq silently takes its toll.
Since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the unremitting attacks on the indigenous Christians of the region, it is amazing that the Assyrians have not replied to violence with violence. Had they done so, Assyrians would certainly have made the headline news.
When our churches are bombed, we don’t attack mosques. When our youth are bludgeoned to death, we don’t practice an eye for an eye. When our priests are beheaded, we pray for their souls and know they are entering the Kingdom of God. We don’t have the blood of vengeance on our hands.
We may be a nation without a country, with no political standing, no oil fields to use as bargaining chips, our human rights ignored, endlessly marginalized, terrorized and brutalized. Yet we do not seek reprisal. That has never been our way. We are not stained with the blood of retribution.
In the shadows of WWI, the Ottoman Turks, Kurds and Persians carried out a systematic ethnic cleansing and genocide against the three Christian nations of Assyrians, Armenians and Hellenic Greeks, between the years 1914 and 1918 in the Ottoman Empire and Northwestern Persia.
Two-thirds of the Assyrian nation totaling 750,000 souls perished in the Ottoman Empire and Persia as a result of the genocides, starvation, dehydration, disease and exposure to elements while thousands fell victim to kidnappings, forced assimilation and forced migration.
Ironically, by the conclusion of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire’s desire to become homogenous by way of the genocides it committed against its Christian subjects resulted in the collapse of the Ottomans and the end of the Young Turks’ movement including the reduction of its territorial stretch.
Reeling back from this darkest period in Assyrian history, the cycle of brutality against these Christians would return time after time. I learned of the Assyrian Genocide from early childhood. Not because someone actually sat me down and explained it to me. I, like most Assyrian children, grew up learning about it by hearing adult conversations. It was part of the daily dialog in every Assyrian
More than remembering my grandmother’s words, I recall her profound grief and sadness. I remember the loud periods of silence. As a child, I didn’t know how I could comfort my grandmother. By the time she died, my grandmother had already passed her pain onto me.
The Assyrian Genocide is a chapter in history that has long been neglected by the world. As an Assyrian, it is very difficult to fathom how the Genocide of a people, can so easily be dismissed and intentionally ignored by the international community.
In 1915 the Assyrian Patriarch, Mar Benyamin Shimon, saw no choice but to declare Assyrians, a nation without a country, the Smallest Ally of the Allies.
In exchange for this allegiance, the Assyrians were promised an autonomous region in Mesopotamia by the conclusion of the war. But this British promise to liberate them never came to pass. By March of 1918, the Assyrian Patriarch was assassinated along with 150 of his men and a nation was left to mourn its losses in silent anguish.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the crime of Genocide against the Assyrian nation and the Armenians and Hellenic Greeks, the Turkish government’s vehement denial is a sobering reminder that history can and will repeat itself unless confronted and finally laid to rest.
Archives are overflowing with proof corroborating these crimes against Christians; Eyewitness accounts and testimonials, newspaper articles, war correspondences, family documents, photos and even film footage.
But the greatest evidence of all is the absence of lives that once were. The hauntingly silent voices. Denial will never erase the memories of the devastation of the Assyrian nation. These events never leave us. The Assyrian Genocide has affected every Assyrian family. How could it not when two out of every Assyrians were killed?
For the past several months I have been interviewing elderly Assyrians who are in their late 90s and some over 100 years of age. I wanted to record their stories and their recollections.
Most can’t remember what they had for breakfast or how many grandchildren they have. But the events of the Genocide and the Exodus are embedded in their minds as clear as if they were occurring that very moment. The grief is so immeasurable that when these eyewitnesses begin to recount the sights and sounds of the Death Marches, they are transported to a place that no human should have to revisit. But it is these memories that keep history honest and in check.
The effects of the post-traumatic stress syndrome are irrefutable. This condition affects not only those who saw, but an entire nation that cannot sever ties with its painful past.)
Our past has made us who we are today. Our past haunts us and the voices from the past beg never to be forgotten. And now voices from the present ask the same.
So we build monuments in their memory. We write books, give lectures and attend conferences. We hold vigils and teach our youth never to forget. All the while we know that the violence will not cease.
If there was no genocide, then what happened to members of my nation? What happened to members of my family? Was it mass insanity that made Assyrians run into the wilderness and the open fields to be attacked and killed?
What made them run in the middle of the night leaving behind their homes, lands, businesses, farms, orchards, churches, communities, villages, cities and possessions?
What made them leave behind their loved ones, the elderly, the sick, the cripple, the blind
These same questions apply to the Assyrians of Iraq in present day. Why are there more than 300,000 Assyrian refugees stranded in Syria, Jordan and Turkey since the liberation of Iraq?
The answer is that the liberation of Iraq became the oppression of Assyrians by no fault of their own.
I am certain that there will be future attacks on the Christians of the Middle-East as I know with certainty that there will be more attacks on the West. It would be naive to believe otherwise. It would be equally naive not to recognize that these attacks began with the first declaration of jihad against Christians in the Middle-East in the form of the Christian Genocides which then set a precedent for the Jewish Holocaust.
Wasn’t it Hitler who asked, “Who remembers the Armenians?” By then Assyrians had ceased to be even a faint memory in the collective consciousness of the world.
Assyrians today living in the Middle-East don’t choose war. War chooses them because they represent Christianity and by proximity, they are the closest targets of aggression against the people of the cross.
Though Assyrians still make Middle-East their home, the exodus and forced migration of
Assyrians from their homeland has dispersed the four-million population to live in
diaspora in their adopted countries across the globe.
So, tonight, as always, I will light a candle and when I close my eyes, I will whisper in quiet prayer that my nation be delivered from evil...
Muslims Forcing Christian Assyrians in Baghdad Neighborhood to Pay 'Protection Tax'
Courtesy of the
Assyrian International News Agency
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Muslims in the Dora neighborhood of Iraq are forcing Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) to pay the jizya, the poll tax demanded by the Koran which all Christians and Jews must pay in exchange for being allowed to live and practice their faith as well as being entitled to 'Muslim protection' from outside aggression.
At least two cases have been reported to a government employee -- who wishes to remain anonymous -- in which the Christian Assyrian wives were instructed to go to a certain mosque and pay, which they did out of fear. The stated reason for the payment was "we do the fighting and you pay to support."
The jizya has been collected since the arrival of Islam in 630 A.D. The last systematic collection was by the Ottomans (Turks), which came to an end only in 1918, when the Ottoman empire was defeated and partitioned in World War One.
Assyrians Against Kurdish bid on Kirkuk
Courtesy of Today's Zaman
(ZNDA: Istanbul) Iraqi Assyrians wrapped up a three-day meeting in İstanbul on 13 March with a statement opposing Kurdish attempts to establish control over the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.
In a statement released after the meeting, the Assyrians said Kirkuk was part of Iraq, not of the Kurdish region.
"The Kurdish region is not as big as claimed (by Kurds)," said group member Barem Behram. "If you look at the history, you will see that Assyrians were populating the area that is claimed to be the Kurdish region today."
Iraqi Assyrians discussed the overall situation in Iraq during their three-day meeting at the Conrad Hotel in İstanbul. The meeting was originally planned to be held in Baghdad, but the plans had to be changed after participants from other countries were denied entry visas by Iraqi authorities.
The meeting was attended by some 43 participants, 17 of whom were from Iraq. The participants included US, Australian and German citizens.
Report of the 15th Annual Meeting of the "Solidarity Between Tur Abdin & North Iraq"
2 & 3 March 2007, Conference Venue of St. Ulrich in Augsburg, Germany
“We will not stay silent anymore!”
By Tuma Abraham MD reporting from Germany
(ZNDA: Augsburg) The 15th annual meeting of the Solidarity Between Tur Abdin & North Iraq (SG) took place in Augsburg, Germany on March 2 and 3.
The SG was founded in spring 1993. It comprises a soft merger of groups and individuals from human rights organisations, Assyrian organisations and representatives of the Catholic, Evangelical and Syrian-Orthodox churches taking on the preservation of Tur Abdin.
In the recent years also North Iraq was added to the terms of reference. The Board of the SG consists of Rev. Horst Oberkampf and Rev. Thomas Prieto-Peral from the Evangelical Church of Baden Württemberg and Bavaria in Germany; Janet Abraham, vice director of the Society for threatened People from Munich, Germany; and Dr. Shabo Talay from the Institute of Oriental Philology at the University Erlangen, Germany.
In his opening speech Rev. Horst Oberkampf from the Evangelical Church of Baden Württemberg, Germany introduced the two guest speakers, H.E. Archbishop Mor Filoksinos Saliba Özmen from Mardin, Turkey with his secretary Yusuf Begtas and the journalist Nuri Kino from Södertalje, Sweden.
Archbishop Filoksinos was ordained four years ago and has his seat in the parishes of Mardin and Diyarbakir. Rev. Oberkampf described him as a dynamic personality full of ideas and visions for Tur Abdin. He pointed out that Bishop Filoksinos was the first priest from Tur Abdin following the invitation of the SG.
In his introduction of the freelance journalist Nuri Kino, Mr.Oberkampf honoured the courage and dedication of his work.
Bishop Filoksinos then presented the main lecture of the first day on the political and religious situation of the Assyrians in Turkey. He started with the quotation “If you don’t know your past, you can’t see your future” and explained the reasons and results of the exodus from their home countries in the middle of the last century. He emphasized the decline of the cultural, spiritual and economical level of the whole area due to the migration of the Christians. None the less the experience of Diaspora, education and the dialogue with the world would have opened the chance to the Assyrian people to bring round the idea of a national consciousness.
He further stated the importance of the monastery Mor Gabriel under the head of Bishop Mor Timotheus Samuel Aktas for the re-opening of the monastery Deyrul Zahfaran after 34 years of vacancy. He explained his aims to enhance the monastery of Deyrul Zahfaran and Mardin to reinforce its former position and role as a gate to Tur Abdin. Recent projects are the restoration of the buildings, the issuance of a bi-lingual newsmagazine and instructions in language and religious studies. Future plans imply the inclusion of the monastery and the town of Mardin into the UNESCO world heritage and the establishment of a professorship for theological and religious studies at one of the countries universities.
Bishop Filoksinos underlined the importance of these efforts to second the changes in Turkey and support its path to a democratic society. Despite of the rather grim impression of the minorities’ recent situation he described the climate of public opinion as very positive towards the Assyrians. He relativized the influence of the reactionary forces compared to the development of the reform process. Yet he stressed the role of the European countries and the Assyrian organisations outside of Turkey to impel these changes.
Benjamin Demir then reported on the state of the return project in Kafro, Turkey. Last year 17 houses were build and 11 families from Europe settled down in the village in summer of 2006. Future assignments include the restoration of the villages’ chapel and the integration of the families into the social and working environment of the area.
Mr. Abdulmesih Bar Abraham introduced the second guest speaker Nuri Kino, a freelance journalist engaged with subject matters on the situation of the Assyrian people around the world.
Nuri Kino was then recognized by representatives of the Syriac People Portal for being elected “Suryoyo person of the year 2006”.
Nuri Kino then reported on his movie “Assyriska – A National Team without a Nation” which plots a picture of the Assyrian peoples struggle for recognition based on the story of the soccer team from Södertalje, Sweden. The movie was awarded as the “Best Picture 2006” at the Beverly Hills Firlm Festival.
During his speech on the second day of the meeting Nuri Kino depicted the recent situation of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Refering to the gruesome execution of a young man he drew a grim picture of the terror Assyrians have to face, as they represent a weak target in the ethical conflict burdening the country. By terming figures of the UNHCR he stated that more than 30% of all Assyrians have left the country since the invasion of the allied troops. As a solution to this exodus he considered the acceptance of the systematic dimension of this expulsion by the commonwealth and the establishment of an autonomous administrative area in the Nineveh Plains.
He further explained the contentious issue among the Assyrian parties and organisations relating to the legal claims for such an administration either to be autonomous or under the influence of the Kurdish Regional Government. Also he addressed the difficulties with the Kurdish people in North Iraq and their offers for support of the Assyrians seeming beyond belief due to their intimidate and repressive politics.
He finally pointed out as essential for the fate of the Assyrian people, the silence on all the unjustness has to come to an end.
Together with Bishop Filoksinos he phrased the final thought for the meeting: “We will not stay silent anymore, but shall become ambassadors of peace!”
Assyrian Refugees To Be Resettled Before End Of Year
By Afram Barryakoub reporting from Sweden
(ZNDA: Stockholm) In the 10th issue of Zinda Magazine in May 2006 when a report on the tragic fate of the Assyrian refugees in Turkey appeared, things were still unclear for the refugees and help was scarce. Today, almost one year after the report in Zinda the refugees are finally being heard. They are now receiving a refugee status.
"We have been promised visas to the U.S says," George Oraha Mansur, Chairman of the Iraqi Christian Refugee Community in Istanbul.
There have been many rounds of meetings and visits to the Assyrian refugees in Istanbul by different delegations. The refugees owe most probably much thanks to themselves for finally attaining enough attention.
"We have been writing appeals to different organizations for years and they have come and met us from the U.S and Europe. We wrote to the American Congress, to Jewish organizations in the U.S. and others," says George O. Mansur.
It has turned out that the Jewish organizations have probably been the most instrumental in helping the Assyrian refugees. According to Mansur it was the Chaldean Federation of America that asked the Jewish organizations for help.
"A Jewish group came here and they saw our situation, took our statements and took pictures and then went back to the U.S and wrote to the Foreign Office and the Congress about our status."
There have been media reports in the U.S who confirm that the American Jewish organizations have acted politically to bring the Assyrian Christian refugees to the U.S.
Felice Gaer of the American Jewish Committee is one of the persons involved in this issue. Zinda Magazine has on several occasions sought comments from Felice Gaer without any success.
All Assyrian refugees are not heading for the U.S. as some families are waiting to obtain visas to Canada or Australia.
Next month the European Union will conduct a meeting to discuss the refugee situation caused by the Iraq war. George O. Mansur hopes that even European countries will open their borders for the refugees. "By the end of this year there will be no more Assyrian refugees stranded in Turkey," hopes George O. Mansur.
Receiving refugee status includes a process of three steps. The refugees first receive a refugee certificate by the UNHCR. Then they are interviewed in Istanbul by the International Catholic Emigration Committee which also prepares the applications to the American embassy in Turkey. After yet another interview the refugees finally receive a visa (stay permit) to the U.S.
To start this process the refugees must have valid entry visas to Turkey. But most of the Assyrian refugee’s entry visas have expired because of their long stay in Turkey. Getting a valid entry visa anew includes paying a fee to the Turkish authorities, a fee many refugees cannot afford.
"Because of this people are still in despair, they don’t have the money. We really need people with diplomatic connections to help us by convincing the Turkish government to take away the fee for those who can’t afford it," says Mansur.
But the refugees are happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel after all hardships.
"We are happy, because there are so many problems for us here in Turkey. Honestly speaking the Turkish people have not welcomed us at all; they are discriminating against us and don’t help us because we are Christians," continues Masnur.
As for the Assyrian organizations George O. Mansur has this to say: "All the organizations that belong to our nation - Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs have failed to submit any assistance to our Christian refugees in Turkey. We haven't heard or seen any aid or assistance or advice from them. Our parties are too busy in-fighting. What those organizations are able to do and succeed in is their singing parties in Ishtar and Ashur TV, and they also succeeded in collecting money using our names, but it went for other purposes," says Mr. Mansur.
In Jordan, Christians from Iraq Harassed
Courtesy of the Associated Press
(ZNDA: Amman) Iraqi sisters Nasrin and Rihab enjoyed a relatively peaceful life in Baghdad until the night almost a year ago when militiamen tortured and beheaded their only brother.
Then came threatening phone calls, said the sisters, both members of Iraq's small Christian community. And not long afterward, armed men broke into their home and beat them.
They "started hitting us, pulling our hair and pounding on my sister's stomach with their boots," wailed Nasrin, now 51, in an interview in their tiny apartment in Amman.
Rihab's gallbladder burst, and blood came out of her mouth, the sisters recalled. She was rushed to a hospital and when she recovered, with a large scar still across her middle, the two fled to Jordan.
"We escaped after that. They vowed to kill us," said Rihab, 56, who like her sister would not allow her family name to be used for fear of more attacks.
Their story is a chilling reminder of troubles faced by minority Christians in Iraq amid sectarian fighting between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Churches have been bombed, and businesses - particularly hair salons and liquor shops -destroyed.
As a result, many Christians have joined the flood of Iraqis fleeing their country. There are an estimated 750,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan, including about 2,000 Christians. An additional 1 million Iraqis have fled to Syria.
Jordan has been especially worried about the influence of Shiite refugees, who are seen as a menace to the country's security and predominantly Sunni character. But Christians - most are Chaldean Catholics - have also faced a tough time here.
Rihab and Nasrin, who have put several locks and deadbolts on the door of their two-room apartment, say they are haunted by memories of Baghdad.
Militants kidnapped their brother, Muhanna, tied him up in a deserted house and tortured him, then killed him.
"He tried to call us from his phone, but the line went dead," Rihab said. "They took his cell phone and made threatening calls to us. .. We realized that something terrible had happened."
Police later discovered his body.
"Now we have no one at all to care for us and protect us," wept Rihab, clutching pictures of the bloody body.
The sisters, neither married, can barely afford their $200 monthly rent here. They have no family left in Iraq. A niece lives in Australia; the sisters were recently denied permission to settle there.
"I help an old woman. ... I'm tired. ... but we trust in God," said Nasrin.
Rihab believes Christians no longer have a future in Iraq, and thinks militants targeted her family because of their faith.
"'We will kill you, like we killed your brother,'" she said the militants threatened, over the phone, after the brother's death. "They shouted obscenities at us, telling us, 'You are Christians.'"
Afterward, the family home was attacked and they fled.
Leila Salman, a Christian whose two daughters were killed by Shiite militiamen last year, is also now living in Jordan and is grim about the future.
Her daughters, Linda and Rita, both in their 20s, were killed when men fired on a minibus taking workers home from a U.S. military facility in Baghdad. The two had washed clothes and worked at a dispensary for the U.S. military.
"We're being persecuted because the allied forces are Christian, and they think we are collaborators," their mother said.
Iraqi Mandeans Face Extinction
Courtesy of the Religion & Spirituality.com
(ZNDA: Damascus) Leaders of Iraq's Sabian Mandaeans - one of the oldest religions in the world - say they face extinction as Islamic extremists try to wipe them out through forced conversions, rape and murder.
Sabian Mandaeans in Iraq Face Annihilation
Based on a Report by the Mandaean Human Rights Group
The Mandaean Human Rights Group is a self organized group dedicated for the help and protection of follow Mandaeans in Iraq and Iran given the situation in those two countries. The Human Rights Group watches, investigates and exposes human rights violations against Mandaeans. We have volunteers in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Europe and Iraq. Our model, in our work is the United Nation's Human Rights Declaration of 1948.
We gratefully acknowledge the dedicated help and advice of many organizations, without which this work would not have been completed. Numbered among them for this edition are:
The Sabian-Mandaean religion is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the Middle East. It is independent of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It follows the teachings of John the Baptist; baptism being its central ritual. Like most religions it emphasizes marriage, family, and peaceful coexistence with other groups. Mandaeans (Sabians or Sub’ba, in spoken Arabic) are the people who believe in this religion. One is born a Mandaean; the group accepts no converts. Well before the Christian era, Mandaeans have lived in Southern Iraq and Southern Iran. In Iraq, after WWI, they migrated to large cities such as Basra and Baghdad. Like Hebrews and Copts, Mandaeans are both a religious and ethnic minority. The word Mandaean refers to their distinct Aramaic language, which is still spoken by Iranian Mandaeans. In Iraq on the other hand, the Mandaean language survives only in liturgy. Similar to what happened to the Coptic language in Egypt.
Although it is difficult to estimate, the Mandaeans are around sixty thousands at the present time. Their decreased numbers are due to continued persecution and forced mass conversions as well as relocation and assimilation. Currently, they live in large cities such as Baghdad , Umara and Bsra; few remain in other Iraqi cities like Nasiriya and southern Iranian cities like Ahwaz. During the past decade, and especially the past three years, thousands have escaped Iraq and Iran, choosing self-exile and immigration to death and persecution. There are about 15,000 Mandaean in different parts of Europe, 1500 in the United States, 1000 in Canada and about 4000 in Australia. There is also a large refugee population in various other countries: 1700 families in Syria, 650 families in Jordan, 50 individuals in Yemen, and 20 in Indonesia.
Short History of the Sabian Mandaeans
It is difficult to chart the origins and history of the Mandaean people because their literature does not deal with these topics. Presently only one Mandaean text has emerged which refers, but in a very confused manner, to their history. It is the “Diwan of the great Revelation, called ‘ Inner Haran’” or Haran Gawaita.
In Haran Gawaita there is a description of the Nasoraeans escaping from persecution and staying in the “Median Hills” under the rule of King Ardban. King Ardban has been identified with the Parthian King Artaban III, IV or V. This description shows how the Mandaean community, or part of it, penetrated into the Iranian territory of that time, that is during the period of the later Parthian kings, in the first or second centuries A. D. This same text describes how a Mandaean community was established in Mesopotamia and discusses its further history under the Sassanian rulers.
The emigration of the early Mandaean community from the Jordan valley in Palestine into eastern territories, brought about because of conflicts with the locals, must have taken place during the second century A.D. at the latest, because several Mesopotamian and Parthian elements presuppose a fairly lengthy stay in these regions. The emigrants went first to Haran, and the Median hills, and then entered the southern provinces of Mesopotamia.
Haran Gawaita attests to the foundation of a community in Baghdad, i.e. in Mesopotamia, and the appointment of Mandaean governors in this region. In contrast to the Parthian rulers, under whom the Mandaeans obviously prospered, relations with the Sassanians were bad. The same scroll refers to considerable reduction in the number of the Mandaean Mandis (Worship Houses) at that time. It is also clear from the inscription of the Zoroastrian high priest Kartar that those practicing non-Iranian religions – and the Mandaeans were among these – were persecuted during the reign of King Shahpur I.
With the rise of Islam there came renewed oppression. In spite of the mention of the Sabians as a “people of the book” in the Qur’an, Mandaeans were hardly ever tolerated. Thus, the afflicted community retired more and more into the inaccessible marshes of southern Iraq and the river districts of Khuzistan, where the Mandaeans are even now to be found.
During this journey in history, Mandaeans were faced with several massacres and genocide attempts. Examples of which are in :
In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Mandaeans returned to the large cities ( Baghdad and Basra), and found opportunities for education social improvement.
After the First World War and with the rise of Turkish nationalism, Arab nationalism took president over religion and the Arab Muslims fought against the Muslim Outman Empire. A new phase of persecution appeared where the ethnic identity of minorities in the Arabic Islamic rule had to dissolve in the pan Arab chauvinistic identity. This included the Mandaeans , Christians, Kurds and all other ethnicities . The Mandaeans lost their language (Mandaean Aramaic), distinctive dress and heritage to Arabic culture. This arabization process especially in
1950 to 1960’s took their religion for the worst . Mandaeans, were forced to deny certain Mandaean mandates. For instance as Mandaean children attended schools they are required to cut their hair, this is in direct violation to Mandaean rules. Since the sons of priests are barred from the priesthood if they cut their hair, this forced act has dwindled the pool of acceptable applicants. In addition they were drafted by force in the armed forces again against there religious mandate which prohibit carrying guns .
During the Baath and Saddam era the Mandaeans were under extreme pressure. The dictatorship affected the Iraqi society over the last several decades in a brutal way. This dictatorship held an iron grip over all Iraqis and stained the recent history with terror and the blood of the innocent. The Mandaeans took their share of misery and pain in the suffering that occurred. Several hundred Mandaeans died during Saddam rule for trying to express their thoughts in public. Hundreds of their young men and women were killed, condemned to horrible tortures, or simply vanished. Hundreds more were killed during the Iraq-Iran war under the forced drafting rules. This make s substantial portion of young male population. They were forced to go against their religious doctoring of not carrying weapons and never shedding blood, even in self-defence .
During the last decade and before the fall of Saddam regime, there was a surge in Islamic fundamental ideology both in the Sunni and Shia school of thoughts resulting from many factors out of the scope of this report. These extreme Islamic views carry, among other things, an extreme view of how Muslims should deal with other religions like Christianity, Judaism and Mandaeism. Un-acceptance and forced conversion is the only solution that these ideologies would accept. The followers of these sects used all the means available to them including money, threats and intimidation to convert other religious minority members like Mandaeans to Islam. These tactics were successful with a lot of Mandaean families in areas like in Faluja and Ramadi and some areas of Baghdad. The use of threats, intimidation, brain washing of children, and kidnapping of girls forced a lot of Mandaean families to surrender completely and accept their fate. During that period many Mandaeans where killed for their faith only .
Sabian Mandaeans after the fall of Saddam Husain regime.
Major changes have happened in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Husain. The situation has deteriorated further since our previous report in March 2006  . Chaos and civil war are in the horizon. The sectarian identity among Iraqis has preceded the national identity and the violence is increasing in scope and lethality . Sunni and Shia death squads are roaming the streets of Baghdad and other cities of Iraq. These death squads are killing based on the last name and religion presented on Iraqi ID . Mandaeans and other Iraqi minorities are targeted by both sides. Recent incidents include the disappearance of a Mandaean engineer after being stopped by armed militia on the road to an Escanderia factory near Baghdad. Another occurred on the road to Ramadi: insurgents stopped a car and killed the driver, a Shia passenger, and a Mandaean father and his child.
Mandaeans are pacifists and conscientious objectors by doctrine. They are not allowed to carry guns, knives or any other weapon. The Killers are sinners. There main self-defence are dialogue, knowledge, and escape. They managed to wither previous storms in their history through manoeuvring and discussion and paying “Jizia” or ransom to local tribes for protection or escape. All these methods seem not working in this time of mass sectarian killing in Iraq.
Forceful conversion is happening to an alarming degree. Boys are being kidnapped, forcefully circumcised (a major sin in Mandaean religion) and forcefully converted to Islam (case has been shown to representative of Amnesty International during their visit to Amman in 2006), Young girls have been kidnapped, raped, or forced to marry Muslims. Families receive threats demanding that they either convert or pay “Jizia,” a ransom paid allowing others to live among Muslims. Often these threats come in the form of phone calls, letters, or through direct contact. (All these cases and other similar cases have been presented to the UNHCR in Jordan and detailed accounts presented to UNHCR in Geneva in may 2006)
Confiscation of property is also becoming a common, unpunished practice. Mandaean houses are being taken in areas of Baghdad like Dora, Adamia, and Sidia, in addition to other cities like Basra and Baquba. Sabean Mandaeans first receive threatening letters. As they flee the area, their property is immediately occupied. Often, police and neighbours are unwilling to provide assistance. In one instance, a Mandaean family in the Adamia region of Baghdad went to the police to register the confiscation of their house. When the police questioned the neighbours, the neighbours said that the people who currently occupied the house had been there for 20 years and the Mandaean family was lying. Their case was immediately dismissed, and they later received a death threat advising them to either leave Baghdad or face the consequences. Other properties that have been taken belong to the Mandaean houses of worship. The Mandi (a Mandaean House of worship) in Qalaa Salih, Umara and the Mandi in Baquba were both taken by armed militia. In addition, a Mandaean community center in Baghdad and Mandaean land in Basra were all forcefully taken without compensation.
More than 80% of the Mandaean community has been displaced to outside Iraq.
The Mandaean community in Iraq has dwindled from more than 60 thousand in the early 1990s to 5-7 thousand today. Most have escaped to Syria and Jordon and others have also fled to Yemen and other countries. Those Mandaeans who are unable to leave Iraq are currently moving to different cities inside the country or moving together in houses in order to gain a sense of security and protection.
Some have tried to move to Kurdistan, however there is no system of support for refugees, and authorities there are not ready to accept refugee seeker. With recent regulations it has become even more difficult to enter the area. In addition Mandaeans fear that religious persecution in that area will start once their identity is known.
Employment in Iraq is now related to political, sectarian and ethnic affiliation rather than qualifications. The ministries are divided among the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish factions  and they deny all others, namely Mandaeans and Christians, any chances of employment. Large numbers of Mandaean are gold smiths they can not go to work to earn a living as they are easy victims, also their businesses were taken by Moslems, The same goes for Mandaean professionals like doctors and others.
Mandaeans have tried to express their concerns through the political process in Iraq. However, they have no voice in the parliament and no direct solid connection to any of the effective officials. Contacts with officials, religious leaders, and political party leaders have resulted in empty promises and no stop of any of the above atrocities. Many of Iraq’s most powerful and well-positioned leaders are not working toward a united Iraq any way . The police force is corrupt, often helping attackers, and has little to no role in protecting minorities .
According to the USCIRF 2006 Annual Report:
The situation of the Mandaean refugees in the middle Countries (where asylum seekers wait for approvals and resettlement)
Mandaeans are escaping mainly to Syria and Jordan.It is rather important to point out that the Mandaean situation is different from other minorities in Iraq as they do not have any identified geographical area to go to temporarily ,they have no choice other than LEAVE IRAQ AS REFUGEE
There are about 1700 families in Syria, mostly in the Germanha area of Damascus, and about 650 in Jordan, mostly in Amman. The conditions of the refugees differ only slightly between the two countries.
These countries are neither ready nor able to deal with a large influx of refugees by their own resources. They are not refugee accepting countries. Refuge-seeker are left to their own resources without any specific legal, social, medical, educational or financial support. At the border, they are given 3 months temporary stay, and after that time, they become illegal. Sometimes this stay can be extended for a maximum of an additional 3 months. Illegal residents are not allowed to work and have no legal or social support from the governments, and they are under the threat of deportation if they have an encounter with the police, even as victims. This leaves the door wide open for all sorts of abuse.
Abuse of refugees by employers is widespread. Refugees are forced to work for long ours and are either paid with meals or are denied compensation and are constantly threatened with deportation if their case reaches police.
Women and children are falling prey t o all sorts of abuse. Pressures of illegal employment, deportation, and even hunger forces women in the pit of sexual abuse. Some girls are being lured into the sex trade and some are kidnapped and married by sex traders to be sold in other countries as sex labourers. Such cases are known but will not be reported due to social stigma in the Middle East communities.
Children are not allowed to enter the education system easily in both countries. Private education is very expensive. Most of the parents cannot afford to put their kids in schools and thus many are left without education. Children are forced to go to work places to help their parents. Some factories take advantage of the government policies regarding refugees and employ children for nominal fees and long hours. Such cases are being reported on personal level never reach the police.
In addition, most of the refugees cannot afford the expensive health care systems in both Syria and Jordan. There is no system for providing proper health care for the refugees. Few humanitarian organizations in Amman provide some health care for free but they do not have medications to treat many acute illnesses much less chronic ones. Most malignancies are diagnosed late, patients are not treated, and some are left to die. To add insult, most families have no money to bury their dead. Some families started to beg in mosques and churches and some even search the dumpsters for food. Psychological problems including depression and posttraumatic stress syndromes are widespread among both adults and children.
Most Mandaeans have presented their cases to the UNHCR offices in Amman. They are usually granted temporary protection cards, but those cards have no value with the authorities in both countries. None of their cases have been processed for resettlement or presented to other refugee-accepting countries. Although the UNHCR office in Jordan is a regional office it has very little staff (only 4 officers) and very little resources to deal with large numbers of refugees . Conditions in Jordan and Syria are becoming inhumane and turning a blind eye and remaining silent have ceased to be acceptable options for the international community.
There are about 50 Mandaeans who had escaped to Yemen even before the fall of Saddam and have been there for more than five years. Their cases where processed by the UNHCR and presented to the United States for resettlement, but the process was put on hold after 9/11. They are under tremendous stress from the community around them who do not know, understand, or accept Mandaeans their religion. As their identity becomes known to the locals they are being deprived even of the meagre resources they gained over the last 5 years. Employment is denied, women are sexually harassed, and they face religious persecution. There are no facilities or running water for Mandaeans practice their faith. If such facilities were provided, many families would not want to use them because they would expose themselves to much danger. In the community, young Mandaean women are being pressured to marry Muslim men. Their refusal has caused many families to face many social difficulties and has forced many of them to relocate. The kidnapping of one Mandaean woman is still unsolved.
There are about 30 Mandaeans left without a solution to their cases in Indonesia. Most were victims of human trafficking on the way to Australia or other refugee accepting countries. They have been left in Indonesia for more than five years, where they have no legal status. The UNHCR has rejected their cases twice even though in other regions the UNHCR has found that the processed Mandaean cases were legitimate. Recently UNHCR reopened the cases but no final decision was ever taken.
What is the solution?
The international community and especially the United States Government, UNHCR, UK government, other Coalition Countries, Australia, the EU countries and all other NGO’s should act i to prevent the Humanitarian disaster in the making.
One of the oldest and most peaceful communities in the Middle East is being annihilated from its origins under the eyes and ears of the international community.
All articles of the U.N declaration that applies to protection of the endogenous, ethnic and religious minorities are compatible with their situation and should be applied.
Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments the government has made, the United States has special obligations least of which morally to step up and save the Mandaeans and other religious minorities in Iraq .
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has already urged Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Mr. Dobriansky to create new or expand existing options for allowing members of Iraq's Chaldo-Assyrian and Sabean Mandaean religious minority communities to access the U.S. refugee program, and to urge UNHCR to resume full refugee status determinations for all Iraqi asylum seekers and assess all claims without delay .
UNHCR has an immediate and urgent obligation to start processing these cases for resettlement. The Organization should take active steps to provide protection for the refugees in Jordan and Syria to give them a proper legal status to prevent abuses.
The UNHCR must grant all Mandaeans a full refugee status in all countries as group and not individual cases and give them complete protection from deportation to Iraq.
Proper Medical, and humanitarian assistance should be offered and financial support to any agency that can provide that help to the refugees.
The Iraqi Government should be held responsible for providing financial help for the Mandaean refugees through independent agencies to provide them with the necessary humanitarian support.
The Iraqi Government should be responsible on recording and saving the properties of the Mandaean community in Iraq including their archives, documents and history.
Militia leaders should be held accountable for crimes against humanity when they or their followers are caught by police in the future.
The Sabian Mandaeans in Iraq are looking for protection from the hate crimes that they are facing. They are looking for the USA and the international community to save their lives, their kids and their future and prevent the genocide that is happening.
for the mandaeans as endogenous people of iraq,and being religiuos and ,athenic are facing anhiliation ,all articals of the U.N decleration that applies to protection of the endogenous,athenic and religiuos mniorites are compatable with their situation and should applied.
Zinda extends special thanks to Dr. Salam Farhan in the United Kingdom for his assistnace in compiling this report.
The Diaspora Assyrians and Their Struggle for Iraq
“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.”
- Charles Caleb Colton, English cleric and writer
Reading the resolution from the recent conference in Ankawa, Iraq, discussing the Nineveh Plains policy for local autonomy, I think it is fantastic that Assyrians seem to be on the same page now. It is wonderful that a policy that has been pushed for 3 years, publicly, the idea of the Nineveh Plains Administrative Unit, was agreed to at a conference that its originators did not even attend. It is good news for the Assyrian nation – it means when they get together and talk through possibilities, they all eventually come to the same, realistic conclusions.
The essence of the new Ankawa Conference can be summed up in this excerpt:
Many Assyrians – including some known to this author – were offered or had friends or family who were offered full plane fare for themselves and their families so they could ensure high turnout at the Ankawa Conference.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement – the largest most able Assyrian political party in Iraq – did not attend this conference, although they were invited. According to Toma Khoshaba of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, after weeks of talks with the Assyrian parties responsible for this Ankawa Conference, they asked several things – mainly, who was paying for the conference, and how would the decision making process work (what was the agenda, proceedings, etc.) None were answered, and the ADM asked for more time to settle these issues. They were denied the time, and therefore they declined to attend.*
In October of 2003, the Assyrian Democratic Organization, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, Assyrian Patriotic Party, Patriarchs and Bishops of every Assyrian church, Assyrian delegates from all over the world where the Diaspora live – attended a conference that filled the Sheraton hotel in Baghdad. Dignitaries, even American politicians, attended this conference – the hotel held almost two thousand people. The final resolution that came from that conference, 3 years ago, can be seen here.
It is noteworthy to mention that the Assyrians in Diaspora who went to the now-famous Baghdad 2003 Conference paid their own way to make the journey.
Since the 2003 Conference, there have been other policy options floated by various Assyrian organizations, some larger than others, but most of them without any sort of presence in Iraq. Many of these policies culminate to the ultimate success of a “Kurdistan”, with the hopes that any form of a strong Kurdish government/state will afford Assyrians the opportunity for autonomy that Iraq will not. The policy assumes Iraq will either be a failed state, or that the Iraqi government will not abide by their Constitutional guarantee that administrative areas can be formed within the sovereign state – something carried over from the TAL in 2005, and lobbied for, heavily, by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the largest Assyrian political organization in Iraq. It also assumes that the Kurdish government will, indeed, keep such promises without any such language for local autonomy within “Kurdistan’s” borders in the “ Kurdistan” Constitution.
The very recent transgressions by the Kurdish regional government against the Assyrians in the forms of human rights abuses, voter intimidation and fraud, apartheid-like economic policies, KDP militia intimidation, and even slow cultural genocide, is simply dismissed, or forgotten, by those excited about the prospect of a mini-Assyria in “Kurdistan”.
Kurds, having confiscated almost all Assyrian land in the North and renamed it “Kurdistan”, have politically marginalized the ADM – and with the ADM, their demands to restore those confiscated lands, and to be referred to as one nation – and appointed their own Assyrians to represent this minority – the most famous being the Finance Minister Sarkis Aghajan. Other smaller political groups, such as the Assyrian Patriotic Party, the Bet Nahrain Democratic Party, etc. who could not win in the national Iraqi elections, also took high profile jobs with the Kurdish Regional Government as their future in Iraq was non-existent. They began to participate in the Kurdish campaign to marginalize the largest Assyrian political party, and allow the Assyrian nation to be sliced into three separate nations.
The Kurdish Regional Government, with their own separatist visions that leak into Turkey, Syria, and Iran, recognized quickly that the Assyrian Democratic Movement’s vision for an administrative region in the Nineveh Plains – and their insistence on Kurdish return of confiscated Assyrian villages in North Iraq - would cut them off from eventual expansion, and therefore exacerbated and exploited internal Assyrian problems, such as the national name (Assyrian vs. Chaldean vs. Syriac), the push for separation of church and state (making Patriarchs uncomfortable), and other such issues.
Kurdish authorities have shown, through their intimidation tactics and economic and political discrimination that they will accept Assyrians in “ Kurdistan”, but as a loyal minority, to a Kurdish state, and live quietly and happily, speaking our language, maybe, with no visions of separatism. And certainly no sentiments of nationalism. The Kurds are in a very good position to claim independence – and they are the largest nation in the world without their own state. They are also surrounded by enemies in the Iranians, the Turks, and the Arabs – they do not have the luxury of allowing minorities within their borders seeking their own autonomy, even if the land is, in fact, theirs. The Assyrians have no place in the Greater “ Kurdistan”.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish authorities cry foul at Turkish interference with the Kirkuk referendum, as they meddle in the affairs of the Nineveh Plains.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish authorities anger at the non-recognition of Turkish genocide against the Kurds, while they in turn deny their own participation in the Assyrian genocide of last century.
Meanwhile they claim their inherent right to their land they call “Kurdistan”, whose borders are arbitrarily drawn by where the oil lies and where the Kurds have multiplied, while they deny Assyrians their inherent right to lands whose borders are drawn by historians, archaeologists, theologians and museums.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish authorities lay claim to Assyrian history, owning their symbols, signs, and historical names, changing the names of our cities from their ancient Assyrian names to Kurdish ones – while they work adamantly to “de-Arabize” their own culture.
These outrageous acts of hypocrisy are going unnoticed by a world who is buying into the dream of “ Kurdistan” – to use Jalal Talabani’s own words.
But it isn’t entirely the fault of Kurdish authorities. The saddest characteristic about the Assyrian nation is our hand in our own failures and betrayals – since we began recording history. The Sudanese, in Darfur, will look to the world and ask for help, ask the world to save them from hunger, famine, disease, and war, and the world will oblige, acknowledging their sufferings. The Assyrian nation, which is being attacked physically, economically, politically, and culturally, will ask the world to help them keep their lands, help them keep their language and culture from Arabization and Kurdification, to help them survive what is turning into a Kurdish version of a Ba’athist regime in Northern Iraq….and an Assyrian like the KRG’s Minister of Tourism Nimrod Beitou will be given a platform in this very publication to say “no no, dear World, we are just fine, these other Assyrians are just spreading propaganda”. Assyrian churches will write letters to the Iraqi government and claim “no, no, this political party doesn’t really represent Assyrians – please do as we ask and keep the identity of my parish separate from those Catholics and Orthodox”, and Assyrian Finance Minister Sarkis Aghajan, will tell think tanks and NGO’s “Oh, it’s just silliness – look how many churches the Kurds have built for the Assyrians”. And the people? Well, the people will remain under the thumb of their oppressors, helped by those who sell the future of Assyrians, their testimony of persecution tossed aside by those they would call blood brother, by those Assyrians with more money, more time, and more power. It is a nation which betrays itself.
* In an interview on Ashur TV on Saturday, March 10, 2007.
Attiya Gamri Re-Elected to Provincial Parliamentary Seat
(ZNDA: The Netherlands) Ms. Attiya Gamri, member of the Labour Party or PvdA in Holland and representing the Province of Overijssel, has once again won election to the Provincial Seat in the Dutch Parliament.
Several other Assyrians hold offices at the local levels in the cities of Enschede and Hengelo.
According to a report by the Assyria Foundation in the Netherlands, Ms. Gamri received 3519 "preference" votes, a 43% increase from her previous election in 2003. Preference votes refer to the votes cast for specific members of a party.
Ms. Gamri has been a tireless Assyrian human rights activist for much of her adult life and in particular during her tenure as a provincial representative of the Dutch Parliament. She has traveled to Iraq, Syria, and Iran on several occasions to closely observe the situation of the Assyrians and speak directly with the officials of those countries on ways to improve conditions.
BARSOM J KASHISH (March 6, 1925— December 18, 2006)
Barsom J. Kashish, 0f North Falmouth, formerly of Milton, Massachusetts has been known to his loved ones and to those who have truly witnessed his life, as an extraordinary spirit, a Christian of profound faith, and, indeed, a very mighty Assyrian. Barsom, through his absolute faith in God and the teachings of Jesus Christ, had a valiant and most remarkable spiritual journey on earth, marked by numerous heroic battles in which be defied man’s earthly struggles, including that of death, time after time. Barsom almost seemed invincible, as he had visited death’s door many times, however finally, he entered God’s kingdom, to rest, on December 18, 2006. Barsom, a cherished reflection God’s love and goodness, is forever in the hearts of his devoted wife, Margaret (Jano) Kashish, his loving daughters, Lisa Kashish of Hoboken, New Jersey, and Cindy Hazerjian of Plainville, Massachusetts, his dear sons-in-law, Brian Assadourian and George Hazerjian, his beloved grandchildren Aram Barsom Assadourian and Jeremy and Joshua Hazerjian, and his dear “kid brother,” cousin George Donabed, of Milton, Massachusetts. Barsom is also survived by his sister, Charlotte Correia, of Cape Coral, Florida.
Barsom was born to Maritza (Kazar) Kashish and Jurjies Kashish of Kharput, Turkey, in Watertown, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1925, and grew up in the Boston area. Maritza and Jurjies named him after his grandfather’s brother Barsom Kashish, father of Assyrian activist/author David Barsom (Kashish) Perley, whose life was taken by the Ottoman Turks, in Kharput, as described in the book Shall This Nation Die?
Throughout his youth, Barsom was affectionately referred to as “Barsie” by friends and family members. He was a straight “A” student, and, initially, intended to pursue studies to become a diesel engineer, however, before Barsom was able to attend his high school graduation ceremony, he went to serve in World War II, as a front-line combat medic, in the Battle of the Bulge. Barsom, merely a teenage boy, refused to carry a weapon to protect himself, in spite of the urging of his comrades. He placed his full reliance on God for protection. This critical slice of Barsom’s early years encapsulated who Barsom would be throughout his life...He would always possess the pure heartedness of a youth, the bravery of a great man, and the relationship with God of a higher spirit. Barsom would always be ready to come to the aid of his fellow man, particularly in times of crisis. He was the stuff heroes are made of.
After his service as a combat medic, though Barsom now had ambitions of medical school, he would incur a lengthy recovery from be trauma of war, and his life would take various turns, until be reached his ultimate destiny, which was enlightenment on the spiritual, rather than the medical, nature of healing, and a life driven by absolute reliance on God.
Initially, Barsom returned home to the Boston area, to recuperate after the War. Subsequently, he and his father ran the family clothing/export business, together, for a number of years, while Barsom would often spend his free time at the Boston Public Library, studying the history of the Assyrians. Barsom would later tell his own children how inspired he was to find that all that his father had told him, over the years, of the greatness of the ancient Assyrians as the cradle of civilization, as conquerors, and as Christians, was, indeed, true.
Barsom’s pride in and passion for his Assyrian heritage motivated him to become active in the Assyrian community. He served as the Executive Secretary of the Assyrian National Federation,
In 1960, Barsom married Margaret Jano, and, together with his “Marge” raised daughters Lisa and Cindy, who were blessed to know the unconditional love, self-sacrificing support and nurturing respect, at all times, of their divine father, their cherished friend, their guardian angel…their hero, who demonstrated to them, time and time again, the power of God and how to confront life’s challenges, and conquer all fear, through Him.
Barsom, a graduate of Burdette Business School went onto enjoy an outstanding thirty year career in commercial real estate in the Boston area, earning himself the reputation of a consummate professional, a skilled negotiator, and a charismatic man of honor and integrity. Toward the end of this career, Barsom manifested his love for antique collecting by opening his own Antiques by Barsom, in Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA.
In 1972, Barsom, by chance, came upon the book, Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science (not to be confused with the Church of Scientology). The mere reading of the powerful truths about God and healing, contained in Science and Health, spurred Barsom's first dramatic spiritual healing. Unbeknown to Barsom, he had just embraced on a most inspirational journey of spiritual healing after spiritual healing, which would span over the next thirty years of his life. Finally, Barsom would share testimony of these healings as a legacy to "those who would like to have their lives changed, dramatically, for the better,” in his book, The Revival of Spiritual Healing, which was published in 2002. In his book, Barsom draws a critical link between the practice of “primitive Christianity” which Christian Science believes to have rediscovered, and the ancient Assyrian Church of the East, which Barsom documents to have been the most powerful and dynamic healing based church, with its unparalleled missions extending throughout the Middle East and Asia.
Barsom was highly respected for his understanding and application of metaphysics by fellow members and colleagues of the Church of Christ Science, both in Quincy, MA, where he served as a First Reader, and, at the First Church of Christ Science, Copley Sq., Boston, where he worked as a Real Estate Administrator, and, later, as the Supervisor of Mail and Copy Services, until his retirement in 1992.
Barsom, a seeker of knowledge, who was always learning, growing and discovering new realms, will also be remembered for his very sweet heart, his thoughtful ways, his warm, gleeful smile, his friendly manner, his no-nonsense talk, his gentlemanly way, his feisty moments, his generosity, his love of humor and telling jokes, his adoration of children, his enjoyment of festive gatherings, music and dancing, the Christmas season, old movies, sporting his captain’s hat, Old Silver Beach, his keen knowledge of history, politics, and foreign languages, his appreciation for all forms of beauty, the relish with which he enjoyed his wife’s fine cooking, chocolate ice cream, hot cocoa, and Mounds bars, his impeccable dressing, and his favorite colors…blue… and purple, which Barsom would proudly identify as the color of the Assyrians.
Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Council of Australia Established
13 March 2007
A NATIONAL organisation to help Hume's fastest-growing migrant population has been launched. The Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Council of Australia, an umbrella organisation representing the major Christian communities from Iraq, was launched last month.
Up to two-thirds of Iraqis coming to Melbourne under Australia's humanitarian scheme settle in Hume. Iraq's Christians' situation is uncertain because of the country's civil war. Council chairman Sleiman Yohanna, who lives in Broadmeadows, said he hoped the organisation would help new arrivals settle into the Australian way of life.
"One of the things we want to do is make new members of our community more aware of the culture and laws here in Australia," said Mr Yohanna who fled Iraq in 1990.
"A lot of newcomers have been through a lot," he said.
For more information phone council secretary Nihal Hana on 0403 032 944.
Hume is located just 20 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne and bordering rural Victoria, Australia.
Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Council Meets Minister For Immigration
(ZNDA: Melbourne) On Friday 16th March, 2007 representatives from the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Council of Australia were invited to speak with Kevin Andrews, the Australian minister for Immigration and Citizenship at his office in Treasury Place, Parliament House in Melbourne.
After highlighting the current plight of the Christian minority in Iraq they requested that the minister prepare a contingency plan for the refugee crisis that will engulf Iraq once the US and Australian troops retreat from Iraq.
The main point given to Kevin Andrews was that Australia was morally and legally - according to the Hague convention - responsible for the deaths and displacement of the Christian minority that have occurred under its watch. According to one of the representatives David Chibo, "As we all know Australia was a member of the invading forces, which helped secure the Liberal Party's corporate sponsors the coveted Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S. Well it's now a simple case of 'You break it - You buy it.' "
Citing a precedent for the request Mr Chibo continued, "We requested that Mr Andrews consider our previous defeat in Vietnam, another illegal war, which led to the then Liberal government accepting over 200,000 Vietnamese boat people in 1975."
Sleiman Youhana continued, "We requested that the government give special consideration for our people during the predicted refugee crisis that will eventuate once US and Australian forces retreat from Iraq."
Another representative Nihal Hanna wished to continue to lobby other Parliamentarians in Canberra during the coming months with the hope of creating grass-roots awareness of our peoples' plight.
Chaldean Man Convicted of Molestation in San Diego
Courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune
(ZNDA: San Diego) An El Cajon man who ran a door-to-door reupholstering business was convicted yesterday of molesting three girls and two boys whose families had hired him to work on their furniture.
A jury took less than a day to find Said Zia Shaya, 57, guilty of multiple counts of committing lewd acts on children under age 14.
Shaya, a Chaldean who speaks limited English, did business primarily in East County's Chaldean community and got much of his business by word of mouth. The prosecutor said he chose victims he thought wouldn't talk because of their age, and a culture in which frank talk on sexual matters is discouraged.
The girls Shaya molested were between the ages of 6 and 8 at the time and the boys – two brothers – were 11 and 13.
Shaya faces a maximum penalty of 15 years to life at an April 11 hearing scheduled by Judge Allan J. Preckel, prosecutor Brian Erickson said.
Testifying with the help of an interpreter, Shaya on Friday said he never touched the children inappropriately and couldn't have molested them because in every case adults were either present or nearby.
One girl who said Shaya had sex with her when she was 8 “was never close to me,” Shaya testified.
Asked by defense attorney Victor Eriksen if he ever kissed the two boys as they alleged, Shaya said, “No, that's a lie.”
One of the boys said Shaya had sex with him in the bedroom of the apartment Shaya shared with his 87-year-old mother. But Shaya said that was impossible because Shaya's mother and another relative were in the next room “all the time.”
Prosecutor Erickson told the jury that aside from the brothers, the children victimized by Shaya didn't know each other, yet they gave eerily similar reports on how Shaya gained their confidence to molest them.
The prosecutor asked the jury, “Why would these children come in and make this up?”
Erickson said the girls reported that Shaya enticed them by showing them a staple gun and other tools he used. “They trusted him,” the prosecutor said.
Happy New Year Everyone!
I extend to all Assyrians around the world my sincere and warm greetings on the happy occasion of the glorious ASSYRIAN NEW YEAR 6757.
Long live Assyria FOREVER. Khay’ya ATOOR L’ALAM.
The Nisan Project 2006-A success!
Nisan Project Directors
It is with great pleasure that we announce the completion of the Nisan Project 2006. The Nisan Project was founded by university students that are deeply committed to education and the preservation of the Assyrian language, culture and identity. In an effort to raise funds for needy Assyrian students and schools in the Diaspora and in the Homeland, we hope to build a prosperous future for Assyrian children worldwide through a commitment to education.
The Nisan Project for Spring 2006 was focused on providing adequate computer and internet resources for the schoolchildren in the only Assyrian village of Russia, namely, Urmia in the Krasnodar territory near the city of Armavir.
The local school educates150 students ranging from 1st grade through high school in subjects such as math, science, and the Assyrian language. This school lacked the appropriate computer and internet facilities necessary to meet the demands of the current national curriculum, especially that which pertains to university preparation.
Through the generous donations of individuals, Zinda Magazine, the Assyrian Academic Society (project sponsor) and the Assyrian American Association of Southern California, over 3,000 U.S. dollars was raised for this Project. The funds went towards purchasing, installing, and maintaining a satellite dish, several computers, a server, a printer, and computer chairs/desks (click here for photos).
We are currently developing plans for this year’s Project. If you have suggestions for future schools where there is a significant need or would like to join in our efforts, please contact us at email@example.com. Stay tuned for future announcements!
We and the children of Urmia thank you for your support.
For more information about the village of Urmia, Russia, click here.
Cultural Heritage of Iraq Threatened
Last December, Dr. Donny George Youkhanna gave a lecture at George Washington University entitled “The Iraqi Museum: Past, Present and Future”. Dr. George, formerly Chairman of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, is currently a visiting professor at Stony Brook University in New York. While at Stony Brook, Dr. George will be teaching courses on the Archeology of Mesopotamia and the Cultural Heritage of Iraq.
Dr. George spoke about the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. He presented a historical overview of the museum from its founding under Gertrude Bell in the 1920s up through the present day. As a repository and showcase for Iraq’s historical treasures it is a cultural institution of world importance. From the dawn of history to the civilizations of Sumeria, Assyria and Babylon to the Greco-Roman era, through the Abbasid empire and extending up through the world wars of recent times, Mesopotamia has witnessed the rise of the world’s greatest empires and participated in their greatest cultural achievements while also witnessing the great wars of history fought over this land. Dr. George and his colleagues at the Iraqi Museum have been at the forefront of efforts to preserve this tremendous cultural heritage.
Unfortunately, recent events seriously threaten this cultural and historical legacy. Wars, sanctions, looting and violence have all taken their toll on this venerable museum as well as endangering the many archeological sites and institutions in the country. Yet, despite the current difficulties and dangers, people both in Iraq and around the world feel a solemn obligation to persevere this great cultural heritage, whose loss would be an irredeemable loss for all mankind. The current situation is very serious indeed, however, efforts are being made to cope with it. Law enforcement agencies around the world are stepping up efforts to prevent the trafficking in stolen artifacts from Iraq, stolen artifacts are being tracked down and returned to the museum, damaged antiquities are being meticulously restored and plans are being discussed for future additions to the museum once the security situation is brought under control. However these are all long-term efforts and will require a major commitment from the world community as well as from the Iraqi political and intellectual leadership. This legacy is too important to all of humanity to be allowed to perish and must be preserved at all costs. Dr. George has been intimately involved in this task of preserving the great cultural legacy of his homeland throughout his career and will continue to be so in the future as well. He has stated in a recent interview that his new position at Stony Brook “will enable me to serve the cultural heritage that we – all of mankind – have in Mesopotamia, today’s Iraq, with my experience, as well as the great international efforts that are being led by Stony Brook to restore Iraqi education.”
The event was hosted by His Excellency Samir Sumaida’ie, Ambassador of Iraq to the United States, and Dr. A Hadi Al Khalili, the embassy’s Cultural Attaché. This was the inaugural event of the embassy’s Cultural Office. Many more such cultural events are being planned. The aim is two-fold; first to present a picture of the cultural heritage of Iraq to the American public whose only image of Iraq is the violence they see on the nightly news. The other purpose is to give Iraqis of all backgrounds living in the US the chance to interact and network with one another. Future events being planned will include art exhibits, musical concerts, as well as lectures on the cultural heritage of Iraq.
Now or Never: Kurds and ChaldoAssyrianSyrianees
When the Ottoman Empire was in decline in 1918 the land known as Fertile Crescent was divided into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan by the powers of the day, mainly Britain and France.
The Kurds and Assyrians were not allocated any territory following this division. We missed this RARE opportunity.
The Kurds in Iraq had leaders within their ranks who worked and fought for a section of land for their peoples making human sacrifices. The final road to victory came only after all the Kurdish peoples united behind their leaders; as a result, they managed to secure part of northern Iraq for themselves to live in peace under their own administration. Their case is advanced, but their struggle is not finished.
Similarly ChaldoAssyrianSyrianees had leaders within their ranks who worked and fought to secure part of the land of their ancestors for their peoples also making human sacrifices, however, because of disunity and other factors, we best leave in history books, the result was defeat and dispersion, then the masses of our people endured resettlement and all the hardship that goes with it.
Many movements were established they all served useful purpose in awakening the masses, some bowed out gracefully after serving their purpose and others lingered on outliving their usefulness, and then Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) appeared in Iraq, again they worked against the odds, also gave human sacrifices. Our struggle is advanced, but the biggest hurdle is yet to come.
Thanks to the ADM leaders and leaders of Iraqi minorities and others together they managed to insert in the New Iraq constitution article 125 which states:
‘This Constitution shall guarantee the administrative, Political, cultural and educational rights of the various Nationalities such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other constituents, and this shall be regulated by law.’
Step one is secured, now we all must spend our energy finding ways to support the people who are on the ground in Iraq risking their lives working for all our people whether living in Nineveh Plain (NP), other towns and cities within Iraq and us living outside Iraq.
As well as supporting our representative, we should be establishing companies and partnerships ready to start nation building projects in NP.
Let us go back one step and focus on the current Kurdish struggle. The Kurds have managed to secure a referendum in Kirkuk to decide which territory Kirkuk will belong to, more than likely, if democracy is established in Iraq, Kirkuk will fall within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) boundaries.
Added to this, they are trying through the Assyrian Churches and the KDP Assyrians to include the NP into KRG, it must be stressed here that a large portion of NP is in ( Mosul) Nineveh province which is not part of KRG.
KRG is now governing the provinces of Sulymania, Erbil and Duhok soon part of, if not all of Kirkuk (Altammim) province will be added to their territory.
We must congratulate the Kurdish leaders and peoples for achieving all this for themselves,
Let us now look at our situation, Our elected representative in the Iraqi parliament and ADM leadership are working with the Iraqi politicians/authorities to secure part of the land of our ancestors, the same land where most of our people are living today, Our representative/negotiators are seeking, legally achievable option, and that is for ChaldoAssyrianSyrianees to administer their peoples’ affairs in their own territory within Federal Iraq, as allowed within the constitution, in other words a lawful and peaceful way of achieving good outcome for our people.
We will be deceiving ourselves if we think the interest and welfare of our people will be better served if NP territory is to be under the KRG jurisdiction. We only have to look at the Bosnian experience to know what happens in situations similar to ours.
Now the struggle of the Kurds and that of ChaldoAssyrianSyrianees is on a dangerous, destructive collision course unless Kurds, the KDP Assyrians and Assyrian Church of the East (ACOE) who are enhancing Kurdish efforts to add extra territory namely NP to their KRG, they stop and rethink their position, change their ways and side with their people, and the Kurds show respect for our struggle and support our parliamentarian for good and lasting friendship, in the long run having a ChaldoAssyrianSyrianees administered territory besides their territory will be beneficial to them as well.
The ACOE and the Ancient Church of the East made a major error of judgment when involved themselves in politics by their joint nomination of Mr.George Jackob Bakos to the interim Iraqi Parliament, as detailed in their letter dated 12/8/2004.
It is pleasing however to know that when the Ancient Church of the East leadership was alerted that they are on the wrong side, they heeded the outcry of the people and mended their ways. It would have been more than pleasing if the ACOE leadership also listened to peoples’ cries and mended their ways, unfortunately they are still doing their utmost in undermining the efforts of our elected representative. We must remind the church leadership that they are NOT our elected representatives. The respect and authority given to them by our tradition is to only conduct the church and spiritual services for our people.
We must also remind them that church affairs are far from being harmonious; instead they should concentrate on church affairs rather than allowing themselves to be used as they are.
We cannot escape the fact that they are NOT politicians, they are NOT good managers, and they will go down in history as those who worked against their own people, those who collaborated with the Kurds who are actively causing confusion in order to crush our struggle and dream.
The many decent Assyrian men and women who are standing with the ACOE leadership be it reluctantly, must speak out now to convince the church leadership to side with their people, with the passage of time as our struggle evolves and matures they will find themselves left behind, not enjoying the description of decent Assyrians.
Congratulations are in order for Mr. Fawzy Harriri and Mr. Sargis Aghajan and others for diligently, honestly and relentlessly working for Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
They represent KDP interests very well and they are hard at work for achieving Kurdish goals. It is clear that without them, the Kurds would not have been able to achieve as much as these individuals have done in causing confusion and division through their supposedly patriotic actions.
This RARE opportunity does not come often. If NOW we can’t fulfill our dream and ambitions and those of many generations before us, then our dream will NEVER be realized.
I have listened to the radio all my life. What has drawn me to it as if to a warm sunrise is more than just one thing: music, news, special features all have played a part. I think, though, most of all it is the profound intimacy I have found in the voice on the radio. Think of it: you turn on the radio and out of the box a voice speaks to you directly. You and only you, it seems. What’s more, especially listening to distant radio stations on shortwave radio, the chances of meeting the person behind the voice are as slim as discovering a long lost treasure. Yet the intimacy persists.
When just a boy, with the lights off in the family room where the old Philips reigned, basking in the soft glow from the dial, I spent hours transported by the radio to lands I doubted I would ever see. Listening to the radio opened windows into languages and cultures I could only dream about: Would I ever stroll the streets of Tashkent, devouring the exotic air about me? Would I savor a simple meal at a lonely inn somewhere on what had once been the Silk Road?
All this went on inside my home while outside life went its own way. I scanned my wonderful and yet elusive world with one hand on the radio knob, a glass of tea on the table beside me. I listened to the radio for the comfort it gave me, and for the nourishment to my sense of curiosity. Radio fed my hunger for everything.
In Vietnam, while I served as a U.S. Army combat correspondent, my little transistor radio helped me escape to corners far away from the war’s cruelty and stupidity, ugliness and waste, death and destruction. I found peace for however long I could, whenever and wherever I could. Every day my little radio gave me one more chance to hear exotic music and voices just in case it would be my last. I still craved Bach and Brahms, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. And, oh, how I would have loved to hear an Assyrian song – the sweet music of my own people. Any Assyrian song would have been my symphony. That never happened, of course. But it was a sweet dream in a bitter place. No matter, for I lived from moment to moment, tomorrow as far away as my home back in America.
An Assyrian growing up in Tehran, Iran, I discovered early on that our radio was my ticket to places I had only read about, or seen in Hollywood movies. I imagined myself as the fifth Musketeer, fighting for justice alongside D’Artagnan. I saw me falling in love with the portrait of Gene Tierney, the way Dana Andrews did, in the film classic Laura. And I was William Holden dancing by that river in Kansas with the stunning Kim Novak, in Picnic. Radio fed my imagination as well as all the stories I had read in the great books.
Like all youth, mine had its own joys and sorrows, curiosities and anxieties, and my radio was the doorway that made my dreams more magical. I would turn the dial and find my own private box seat in the world’s concert halls. The music was as diverse as the languages I heard, and as colorful. I especially recall a radio station broadcasting from Baku, Azerbaijan, where Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky were the staple. How many times did I marvel at the lush and beautiful strains of Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov? Or envisioned exquisite ballerinas floating in the air in Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky?
And I still remember the announcer’s closing lines: “Bizim concertimiz gutaldeh” – or something that sounded close.
The music on my radio opened my ears to sound. That same sound created in me a thirst for music as diverse as the lands that composed it. The languages I heard filled my ears with tones which years later I would use as a writer and classical music radio announcer in America.
I still listen to radio. Not as much as I did when I was a boy with a head full of dreams and all the time in the world to play with them. Radio has lost part of its luster in this age of explosive technology, where you can link up with any part of the world in an instant. But I still see it sparkle.
My old radio, the one from the old country, is gone along with many of the other things from my youth. My new radio is a big black box with enough buttons to decorate a troop of dragoons. It probably pulls in far more radio stations than I ever could in the old days. But it is not the same.
Some late nights now when I take a break from writing, I brew a pot of tea and sit in the dark pushing the buttons and spinning the dial on my new radio. From the study in my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I once again travel to places beyond my reach. In those late hours, I dust off the gallery of images tucked away in my memory, taking flight once again to the far away places I visited as a child.
The only thing missing is the glow from the old Philips’ dial.
ARAM Society Conf. in Chicago: Modern Syriac Literature
10-12 April 2007
ARAM Society for Syro-Mesopotamian Studies is organising its 22nd International Conference on the theme of Modern Syriac Literature, to be held in Chicago, 10-12 April 2007. The conference will start on Tuesday 10 April at 9 am, finishing on Thursday 12 April at 5 pm. Each speaker’s paper is limited to 30 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for discussion.
If you wish to participate in the conference, please contact our Oxford address:
ARAM, the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE, England. Tel. ++1865-514041. Fax ++1865-516824. E.Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
TUESDAY, APRIL 10
Chairperson: Ms. Linda Wheatley-Irving ( Chicago)
09.00-09.40 Prof. Martin Tamcke, ( University of Göttingen): “The difficult way to becoming an academic. Lazarus Jaure’s distress during his study at the University in Germany.”
09.40-10.20 Dr. George Kiraz (Gorgias Press): “ Tabetha Syriac: Child Language Acquisition of Classical Syriac-The First Five Years ”.10.20-11.00 Dr. Robert Paulissian , (Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies): "The continuity and maintenance of modern Syriac in Iran, after the exodus of Assyrians from Urmia, in 1918 to the present time."
11.30-12.10 Dr. J.F. Coakley ( Harvard University): “ Assyrian printers in the United States, 1915-1943 ”.
12.10-12.50 Mr. Daniel Benjamin (Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies): “The Assyrian printing presses in Iraq during 20th Century.”
14.30-15.00 Tea/coffee at the Oriental Institute
Chairperson: Dr. Stuart Creason ( University of Chicago)
15.00-15.40 Prof. Heleen Murre-van den Berg, ( Leiden University): “Syriac writing in the Church of the East between 1500 and 1800.”
15.40-16.20 Prof. Amir Harrak ( University of Toronto): “ The Garshuni inscriptions of Iraq: appearance, style, and development.”
16.20-17.00 Dr. Shafiq Abouzayd ( Oxford University): “Maronite contribution to modern Syriac literature.”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11
Chairperson: Prof. Rifaat Ebied ( Sydney University)
09.00-09.40 Mr. Youel A. Baaba (Baaba Library): “The evolution of short story in modern Assyrian literature.”
09.40-10.20 Dr. Samuel Fox , ( Chicago): "Some features of neo-Aramaic oral narrative".
10.20-11.00 Prof. Geoffrey Khan ( University of Cambridge): “The syntax and discourse structure of neo-Aramaic narrative texts from Barwar.”
11.30-12.10 Dr. Eleanor Coghill ( University of Cambridge): “Neo-Aramaic folk-stories.”
12.10-12.50 Prof. Istvan Perczel ( Tübingen University & Central European University Budapest):“Classical Syriac as a modern lingua franca in South India between 1600 and 2006.”
14.30-15.00 Tea/coffee at the Oriental Institute
Chairperson: Donald Whitcomb ( University of Chicago)
15.00-15.40 Dr. Florence Hellot-Bellier: “Inscriptions engraved on the gravestones of the villages in the Urmia’s region. ”
15.40-16.20 Dr. Sebastian Brock, ( Oxford University): “ 'The use of Modern Literary Syriac in Qolo Suryoyo over the years. ”
16.20-17.00 Prof. Yona Sabar ( University of California at Los Angeles): “ Romantic songs in Christian neo-Aramaic as preserved in Kurdistani Jewish Folklore. ”
17.00-22.00: Banquet at the Middle Eastern restaurant
THURSDAY, APRIL 12
Chairperson: Dr. Shafiq Abouzayd ( Oxford University)
09.00-09.40 Dr. Abdul Massih Saadi ( Notre Dame University): “The translation of the Bible into modern Aramaic dialect of Tur ‘Abdin.”
09.40-10.20 Dr. Zomaya Solomon ( USA): "The use and lack of use of the definite and indefinite article in the Assyrian Aramaic language.”
10.20-11.00 Dr. Helen Younansardaroud, (Freie Universität Berlin): “Assyrian proverbs and idioms”.
11.30-12.10 Prof. Alessandro Mengozzi ( University of Bergamo): “A Neo-Aramaic poem on the Russian-Turkish war (1876-1978): Modern Syriac literature from Northern Iraq at the turn of the 20th century.”
12.10-12.50 Prof. Bruno Poizat (University of Claude Bernard-Lyon 1): “ La collection de lettres aux Pères de Mar Yaqo, conservée à la Bibliothèque du Saulchoir .”
14.30-15.00 Tea/coffee at the Oriental Institute
15.00-15.40 Mr. David G. Malik ( Chicago): “ Modern Assyrian Hymns in the Church of the East. ”
15.40-16.20 Mr. Daniel Wolk, ( University of Alabama at Brimingham): “Qasha Shmuel Yosip bet Kulya and Discourse against the Hachaqoghe Thieves of the Cross.”
16.20-17.00 Dr. Shawqi Talia , ( Catholic University of America): “The socio-cultural history of some Dorekyatha from Northern Iraq.”
AUOC Offers Scholarship to California Assyrians
AUOC Executive Board
Attention: A.U.O.C. Affiliates, Delegates and Californian Assyrians
The Assyrian United Organizations of California (AUOC) is pleased to formally announce the offering of a scholarship program dedicated to the College students of California.
Please take some time to visit our new website at: www.auoc.org. By clicking on the SCHOLARSHIP tab in the left column, you can read and print the guidelines, requirements and applications needed to submit for consideration. We are excited to review our college student’s submissions and posting the finalist’s results on the website. The first round of awards, Fall/Winter 2007, deadline is scheduled for May 4th, 2007.
The website is currently being constructed – we have hopes to have it fully completed prior to our Annual State Convention, held during the Memorial weekend in May, 2007 in Turlock, California.
AAS-Santa Clara Annual Walkathon
AAS-Santa Clara Valley Chapter
The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Assyrian Aid Society of America is once again participating in the Human Race Walkathon. This is a benefit event where thousands of people gather every year to support charity organizations of their choice. Through the wonderful support of the Assyrian community in the Bay Area, last year we had over one hundred and fifty people who either participated or donated money, enabling our chapter to raise a total of over $15,000. These funds provided for the housing, medical and educational needs of the Assyrian people in our Homeland. With your help we can make this year's Walkathon another successful and fun event.
You can participate in this great cause by either walking 5K on behalf of the AAS or making a pledge to sponsor our participants. National Semiconductor is again sponsoring our chapter this year and will match your donations. The Walkathon will start at 8:00 am on Saturday May 12th, 2007 at the Shoreline Park located on 3070 North Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View. Your support is crucial to preserving our nation and our cultural heritage in our beloved Bet-Nahrain.
If you would like to sponsor this event, please make your check payable to the Human Race and mail it to the address below by April 20th. Your donation is tax deductible. For more information regarding the registration or making pledges, please contact Jermaine Soleymani at (408) 460-4957 (email@example.com), or Nora Joseph at (408) 963-8612.
The Assyrian Aid Society of America (www.asssyrianaid.org) is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. Federal ID # 94-3147517. All contributions are tax deductible.
Bar Hebraeus (Bar Avraya)'s Book Published by Gorgias
Gorgias Press would like to announce the following book (click here):
Title: The Book of the Dove
Bar-Hebraeus was a prolific writer for his age. Among the many treasures he produced was his ascetical training guide known as The Book of the Dove. Written especially for those in Eastern Christianity who aspired to be hermits, this treatise offers practical spiritual advice for those in his charge in the Syriac church. The study is divided into four parts, treating the training of the body, training the soul, the spiritual rest of the perfect, and a section including Bar-Hebraeus’ spiritual autobiography. A classic of monastic literature, The Book of the Dove retains valuable insights into spiritual exercises, including prayer, fasting, repentance, humility, and alienation from the world. Presented here in the original Syriac, this text will be of interest to the historian as well as readers interested in the Medieval Eastern Church. In a world frantically seeking a spiritual center, the wisdom of one of Orthodoxy’s most erudite writers on spiritual development is always welcome.
Gregory Abulfaraj Bar-Hebraeus (1226-1286) was a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Trained as a physician, Bar-Hebraeus made his way to the life of the church, being consecrated as bishop at the age of 20. His writings encompass philosophy, grammar, poetry, and theology as well as what was generally the science of the day. A noted compiler of information, he was a prolific writer and is recognized today as one of the most notable figures in the history of Eastern Christendom.
We Must Not Condone the Hypocrisy of Our Political and Religious Institutions
What is becoming most apparent to this writer is the outrageous and repulsive hypocrisy of many of the Assyrians' political and religious institutions. While many of the leaders of these institutions claim to be, or try to give the impression that they are, Assyrian nationalists, their actions and questionable associations and dealings prove that they are far from being truthful. I am not going to talk about the negative consequences of this unconstructive behavior since that is obvious to the readers. But, I would like to point to few examples to justify what I just said. Furthermore, I would like to pose few questions and hope that the reader would ponder them.
In his 1987 book "The Assyrian National Question", Sargon Dadesho writes the following in the book's "conclusion" on page 293, quote: "We often expect the world to adjust to our course, but alas, we find we must adjust to the realities around us. I would go further—I believe it is the duty and the obligation of each Assyrian generation to perceive the realities of their times. It is easy to be wise in retrospect. Anyone can tell you yesterday's issues, yesterday's realities. But our challenge, and certainly the challenge of every generation of policy makers, is to confront today's and tomorrow's realities." Later, Mr. Dadesho states: "…The task of the Assyrian National Congress is based on real formulas and not on false equations. I would like to tell you why I should be a pessimist and why I am an optimist regarding the efforts of the Assyrian National Congress to bring unity among the Assyrian ranks…" End quote.
My questions are:
Since 2003, Mr. Dadesho has made it his almost daily mission to unfairly attack, attempt to belittle and smear the reputation of certain Assyrian politicians, organizations, activists and/or writers, whether directly or indirectly, and refer to them as "traitors," among other demeaning adjectives. All these actions were contrary to his claims of bringing unity among the Assyrian ranks mentioned in his book. He and/or those in his circle have based their accusations on claims that those who use "ChaldoAssyrian" for example have sold out the Assyrian nation and name because they have adopted, promoted, accepted, or supported the compounded name at the expense of the "Assyrian" name and that they are inventing new ethnic group by using ChaldoAssyrian.
Interestingly, on page 30 of his same aforementioned book, Mr. Dadesho personally promoted a compound name when he referred positively to the term "Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church." Meaning, he linked the religious name "Chaldean" to the national name "Assyrian" through a hyphen. Furthermore, on pages 53, 72, 78, 79-80, 88, 91-93, 94, 100, 159 he promoted, whether directly or indirectly, the compound title Assyro-Chaldeans (which is the French equivalent of ChaldoAssyrians). Additionally, Mr. Dadesho did not criticize or attack those Assyrian leaders who used the compound name during and after WWI and did not explain anywhere in his book that such compound name was wrong or that those who used it at the time were "traitors" as he has done lately.
A man of principle who is, for example, against a compound name must be always against anyone who promotes, uses and/or supports (directly or indirectly) a compound name. This man of principle must be firm, fair and should not talk with both ends of his mouth at the same time. I would understand if a person clearly declares upfront that he distinguishes between the historical and political aspects of the name. I, for example, decided three and half years ago to support the political compound name ChaldoAssyrian because I understood how important unity was during this crucial period. Historically, meanwhile, I use only the Assyrian name and the proof is in both my 2004 book Assyrians: The Continuous Saga, and 2006 book Assyrians: From Bedr Khan to Saddam Hussein.
In his working paper titled Cultural Rights and Democracy: Iraqi Assyrians A Case Study for Government Intervention, Michael Youash of Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project explains it best how and why the title ChaldoAssyrian was used by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) in 2003's Baghdad Conference. He writes, quote: "The term ChaldoAssyrian did not mark the formation of a new identity or people. Its purpose was defensive in a chaotic political arena. The hope was to present a unified political name to keep the community counted as one while their problems of divisions and historical challenges were dealt with internally." End quote. Mr. Youash too understands the significance of unity at this time. But Mr. Dadesho refuses to use logic and commonsense in dealing with this matter. Furthermore, if Mr. Dadesho is against a certain compound name, he then should attack all those who promote, use and/or support (directly or indirectly) any version of a compound name. A fair person would not only attack the ADM and Younadam Kanna for using "ChaldoAssyrian," but also should attack Sargis Aghajan, Minister of Finance in the Northern Iraq Kurdish Regional Government, Nimrod Baito (APP), Romeo Hakkari (BNDP), Fawzi Hariri, or others that use or support a different version of a compound name, i.e., "Chaldean Syriac Assyrian."
Additionally, as the editor of his Bet Nahrain Magazine, Mr. Dadesho made a mockery of Yosep Dero in the December – February 1979 issue of that magazine and drew a caricature of the "Assyrian stooges" as he called the three Assyrians from Iraq who poisoned the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) delegates in Australia for taking money from Ba'athist Iraq. However, He returned in recent years to make that same Mr. Dero a hero and referred to him as Raabi when the latter calls AssyriaSat live repeatedly to converse with Mr. Dadesho and attack the ADM? I wonder, would Mr. Dadesho take a moment and explain to AssyriaSat viewers and/or to the readers of Bet Nahrain Forum or his Assyria Times these hypocrisies?
Few of the AUA officials that are within the camp of the Acting Secretary General of the AUA Praidon Darmo support the recent Ankawa gathering held in March 12-13, 2007. I guess this explains the recent peculiar and sudden cooperation between Mr. Dadesho's BNDP and the AUA? I am not against any cooperation between Assyrian groups, but this one chuckled me. I realized that our churches are capable to bring groups together if they really worked on it. If that was the case, why didn't the Churches do that before the 2005 Iraqi national elections? The latest reports indicate that two members of the Executive Board of the AUA have resigned during the past six months. Then came the unexpected resignation of Dr. Emmanuel Kambar, AUA Secretary General. Another one is expected soon. The AUA has received a personal invitation from Mr. Dadesho to attend the 8 th General Assembly of the ANC in Ceres, California. While few members of the AUA have initiated new ties recently with Mr. Dadesho's ANC, others within the AUA have their strong reservations from such ties. On March 1, 2007, Mr. Darmo asked for an emergency AUA congress in California to take place prior to Mr. Dadesho's ANC gathering, to discuss the AUA mess, elect a new secretary general and a new executive board. Most importantly, the AUA new congress would discuss whether to attend Mr. Dadesho's gathering or not. Are we seeing another break up in yet another Assyrian institution?
Mr. Dadesho needs supporters to survive, thus, when he felt isolated and desperate he, as a politician, offered his unconditional services and support to a religious institution, i.e., the Assyrian Church of the East (ACOE). Why? It is because Mr. Dadesho's ANC and BNDP are politically bankrupted institutions and the groups that he supported in the 2005 Iraqi national elections failed miserably; therefore, he needed to back up a religious institution to get the sympathy and support of the ACOE members. The late Ivan Kakovitch puts it best when he on December 16, 2006 wrote on the Beth Suryoyo Assyrian Forum, quote: "Degraded and disgruntled for the past decade, it [Bet Nahrain Organization (BNO)] is taking refuge under the tutelage of the Assyrian Apostolic Catholic Church of the East (AACCE), merely because the latter is a fortified bastion in the hearts and minds of the Assyrian communities worldwide, as a major ecclesiastic and somewhat quasi-national entity. AACCE cannot eject any person or any association from its tent and its tenets. Hence, realizing this factor, BNO is usurping the privileges of AACCE, and is embedding itself with the latter’s motto, which I sincerely hope shall retain its streamline of being purely an observer on the political arena(s), and to strictly abide by its sacrosanct duties of faith and religion." End quote.
The unequivocal fact today is that with the exception of the ADM, which proved that it has the support of the people, all the other Assyrian political organizations that failed to muster any votes in the Iraqi national elections have opted to put their services under their respective church leaders. I leave the details to the Assyrian reader to ponder that fact and the consequences of such actions. I would just ask: Do Assyrians want to go back to the era of the millet and Dhimmitude system when their patriarchs led them?
Mariam Shimoun asked in the January 29, 2007 issue of Zinda, quote: "Nations to do not have 'leaders' any more - this is the 21st century. We do not have 'Aghas' and 'Maliks'. We have elected representatives whom we criticize, change, re-elect, or discard. Can anyone say that we can point a finger to a Patriarch and criticize him for foolish mistakes? Can we hold him accountable and ask for his removal? Can we even tell him he is wrong? Never." End quote. I praise Mariam for being courageous in bringing forth such legitimate and important concerns. Why is asking a question or raising a concern about ACOE actions or matters portrayed as an attack on the Church as Bet Nahrain media imply? Are we living in an age or a place where the Church prohibits one from asking a reasonable question or making a legitimate inquiry regarding a certain stand? Mr. Dadesho has been adamant and strong supporter of the ACOE and His Holiness Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and that is clear from his TV programs and from what is allowed to be posted on his various media outlets. Do not misunderstand me; there is nothing wrong with supporting the ACOE or its leadership. I support the ACOE as well; it is my church and the church of my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and some ninety generations of my family. However, this does not mean that I would close my eyes and ears and say nothing about Church problems because of anticipated intimidation or personal attacks labeling my simple questionings as an attack on the Church. The Church is you and I and anything negative about it reflects on you and me. We live in a democracy; we escaped the Middle East so that we would be able to look at things, express our opinion and say this is right, but that is wrong. No one is going to intimidate me, or take that right away from me, as long as I am discussing issues and questioning stands in a respectable manner.
Patriarch Mar Dinkha prides himself of being Atouraya (Assyrian). His Holiness added the Assyrian name to the title of the Church of the East in 1976 immediately after his consecration as the new Patriarch. His message to his flock has been always to honor the Assyrian name and be proud of it. That is admirable, but then one wonders, why did the Patriarch bestow on Mr. Aghajan two medals of honor if Mr. Aghajan is promoting a compound name? Why did the Patriarch allow his photo with Mr. Barazani and Mr. Aghajan to be on the front cover of the latest issue of the official ACOE magazine "Voice From The East"? Is it appropriate to have the photo of KDP's Barazani on the cover of the official ACOE magazine, knowing that Mr. Barazani and KDP consider Kurdish warlord Simko, who cowardly assassinated martyred Patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimun, as a Kurdish national hero? At the same time, if the Chaldean Catholic Church (CCC) was for the Chaldean name only, allow me again to ask, why did His Holiness Patriarch Mar Dalli bestow on Mr. Aghajan medal of honor when Mr. Aghajan is using a compound name? I am not sure about you, but I do not understand these double standards unless the compound name was never the real problem that prompted both patriarchs not to support the ADM and the ChaldoAssyrian compound title in 2005 elections. If that is the case, what is the problem then? Could it be power struggle between the churches and the ADM or is it the ever presence influence of Mr. Barazani on the churches to weaken the rising star of the ADM thus crippling our national cause? The other question is: Does bestowing medals on Mr. Aghajan mean, for example, that the ACOE and CCC are accepting Mr. Aghajan's compound title "Chaldean Syriac Assyrian"? If yes, the million-dollar question is why accept the compound name of Mr. Aghajan and reject that of the ADM when both are compound names of different forms?
On the other hand, consider Yonatan Bet Kolia, the AUA head in Asia. He is the Assyrian representative in the Iranian Majlis (parliament). His official title is "The Assyrian AND Chaldean Representative" in Iranian parliament. I understand that powerful entities were behind the institution of this term, but that is beside the point. Not a single Assyrian leader, whether political or religious, has been able to do anything about changing this compound name in Iran since the title came first into use in 1963 and our people in Iran have accepted it and lived with it quietly. Does this reflect a political and patriotic maturity of our brothers and sisters in Iran? May be. Okay, this is wonderful. If that is the case, why is a small selected group, including Mr. Bet Kolia, against Mr. Kanna and the ADM's compound name? Why this hypocrisy? Furthermore, if 15,000 Assyrians in Iran are allowed to elect their own representative and the decision is honored by all Assyrian groups and individuals throughout the world, including this author, why not honor the decision of our people in Iraq for electing the ADM and Mr. Kanna in two Iraqi national elections in 2005? Furthermore, is Mr. Bet Kolia fair and honest when he claims on June 6, 2006 for Payvand Iran News that there are no violations whatsoever against the rights of minorities in Iran. If that were the case, how would Mr. Bet Kolia explain why since 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran's Assyrian population has dwindled to some 10,000 only? You see, we realize that Mr. Bet Kolia is not in position to criticize his Iranian government and for that I am not going to sit in California and criticize him; however, I would ask, why is Mr. Bet Kolia supporting KDP man Mr. Aghajan and not the ADM, the truly Assyrian elected group?
Now lets revisit the final statement of the general gathering sponsored by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and led by Mr. Aghajan that took place in Ankawa, Arbil, on March 12-13, 2007. The final declaration of the gathering touched on the followings:
How original! In 2003, the ADM's Baghdad conference called for a united name (ChaldoAssyrian), a self-rule in Nineveh plain, and respect of all our names among other things. Those who participated in the 2007 Ankawa gathering and those who organized it stood against the ADM since 2003. Three and a half years later, those same individuals and institutions that stood against the ADM and attacked it for making its recommendations and demands returned to recommend and ask the same exact things. Is that laughable or what?
Zinda Magazine reported on January 29, 2007 issue that Fawzi Hariri of KDP and Mr. Darmo met lately in Washington and that meeting was described as a means to protect the ‘Assyrian’ only name, in contrast to "Chaldean Syriac Assyrian" title. Zinda continued to state that AssyriaSat presented Mr. Hariri and Mr. Darmo as guardians of the Assyrian name against a Ba’athist conspiracy. A staff writer with Assyria Times on January 20th explained that “some elements of conspiracy against the Assyrian identity, the Assyrian national church, and the Assyrians’ political, national, and land rights in Iraq are trying to influence the U.S. Congress through the Assyrian Congresswoman, Anna Eshoo” and that AssyriaSat last week praised the efforts of Mr. Darmo and Mr. Hariri. However, a closer investigation of this matter Zinda Magazine showed that the name issue was never discussed at the meeting in Washington and both Mr. Hariri and Mr. Darmo’s primary goal in meeting with Congresswoman Eshoo was to prevent the establishment of an administrative area for the Assyrians in Iraq. Zinda continued to state that Mr. Dadesho’s Assyria Times recently wrote: “The ANC, BNDP, the AUA, and some ACOE authorities will meet with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and contact other Congressmen and women to show their opposition to the draft resolution."
I am not sure how anybody is going to explain this mess, but if one visits for example the Bet Nahrain Forum he/she would discover that this issue is completely swept under the rug and if any person tried to post about it then the post will never see the light. Of course, the moderators of the said forum do not allow direct posting; they have to approve the post before they release it. Therefore, I guarantee you that any discussions about this matter are very unlikely if not impossible. The AUA issued a statement denying such involvement of Darmo. Many Internet users reflected unsatisfactory sentiment towards the AUA statement and described the justification of Mr. Darmo's meeting in Washington as non-convincing. Was this one of the reasons that prompted AUA Secretary General Dr. Emmanuel Kambar to resign his position on February 22, 2007 after only a year and a half in that position?
Why are these claimed patriotic media outlets, i.e., AssyriaSat, Assyria Times and Bet Nahrain Forum not attacking and exposing KDP-man Hariri or Mr. Darmo when they, according to Michael Youash, claimed the following condescending, negative and foolish remarks and lies during their meeting of Wednesday, January 17, 2007 in the office of Congresswoman Eshoo:
Where do the real patriotic Assyrians stand from all this? Why is the KDP and Mr. Barazani sending individuals to Washington to undermine the Nineveh Plains proposal and resolution? Mr. Barazani does not want another region next door in par with the Kurdish region; he wants to usurp the Nineveh Plains and Kurdify it just as he and his predecessors did to other Assyrian regions of Mosul, Dohuk and Arbil in northern Iraq for the past 100 years.
You see, this game of picking and choosing whom we crucify and whom we glorify is so unfair. It is also obvious from the above that many of our political and religious leaders are hypocrites and are steered by foreign elements that historically have been the enemy of this nation. Still, they play God regarding whom they see as good and a saint and whom they see as bad and a devil and worthy of stoning. To all these I say: Please, stop playing God because you are not in position to do so.
The Assyrian and Israelite Origin of the Northern Europeans and Americans
Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
A series of discoveries, revolutionary interpretations and reconstructions of history are bringing us remarkable revelations and asking new questions while at the same time offering new perspectives on the plan for the unification of Europe. Are all the peoples living to the north of the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Carpathian and Caucasus mountains, and descendants of the Assyrians and the Ten Lost tribes of Israel? Does Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sit today on the same throne as did David and Solomon? Are the peoples of northern Europe the inheritors of these great civilizations of pre-classical Antiquity, whose importance was so great? And, if all of this is contributing to the unification of our continent, are we living in at the End of the Age, while at the same time rediscovering this lost knowledge (since, as is well known, it is only at this juncture that we would rediscover these lost origins)?
I. The concept of the "chosen people."
A. In Mesopotamia
Reconstruction of pre-classical myth has made it clear that this term originated in Mesopotamia at the end of the 3rd Millennium (and did not derive from the Bible). The "Troisième Oeil" ["Third Eye"] has published articles (fasc. 10, p. 60–64 and fasc. 8, p. 68–71) about the rivalry between two sets of priesthood, the monotheistic and the polytheistic, to which we owe a great number of names for the two, either chosen by the priesthood concerned or attributed to it by the rival set. The well-known term "Chosen People" was selected by the monotheistic priesthood for themselves and was the opposite of the term "nations." The Assyro-Babylonians had first used the term "men" to designate the Chosen People and used the expression "beings with a human appearance and animal instincts" to designate the "nations." And, like the Sumerians, it is they themselves who had "divinized" the Chosen People. Sin, symbolized by the Moon, was, among all the gods of all the mythologies, the only one in constant danger, given the difficult route he had to follow across History, for a long time losing his identity, his faith, his ideology, his language, and his customs — all the time far from his land and his country, whence he would have departed at the time of the first "End of the Age" and to where he would have returned at the time of the second "End of the Age." In both cases, he would have been led by the Messiah and this would have been the principal work of the Messiah himself.
B. Among the Hebrews
The term, of Semitic-Assyro-Babylonian origin, has been diffused among the Hebrews: Abraham was a Babylonian of Ur. As with the Assyrian monotheists, this term continues to combine ideological and racial characters — perhaps without the Assyrian intensity and emphasis.
After the division of Solomon’s kingdom (930 B.C.) and the creation of the two Hebrew kingdoms, Israel (in the north; ten tribes) and Judah (in the south; two tribes: Benjamin and Judah), there is no doubt that, though the throne of David and Solomon remains in Jerusalem, and though the centre of religion is still on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, all that is of greater importance unfolds in Israel: it is there that Elijah lived and moved, the prophets take an interest in the land of the North (before 720 B.C.), Israel itself constitutes the Chosen People and, finally, the prophecies for the "End of the Age" concern only Israel; and all of this in spite of her ideological and religious faults (deviations from the authentic monotheistic line) which brought about her punishment, namely, her dispersion and loss of her identity, religion and language. The prophecies can be corroborated today with the help of historical research and science: the Jews are not the scattered Chosen People for they have not lost their language, their faith or, above all, their identity, and the Messiah has not helped them to recover these.
II. The scientific approach to the subject of the Ten Tribes of Israel and their identification
All Assyriologists have believed for some years, that the Bit Ghumri (changed to "Gomer" in Biblical Hebrew, and to "Cimmerians," in Greek), as well as the Ishkuzi (an Assyrian form of the Urartuan "Ishki Gulu," later changed to "Ashkenazim" in Hebrew and to "Scythians," in Greek), came from Central Asia and, having crossed the Caucuses, settled in the outskirts of North-East Assyria. However, the publications of the Danish Assyriologist, Anne Katrine Gade-Kristensen, have shown that the migrations of the Bit Ghumri, as opposed to the westward progress of the Scythians who preceded them — this route can be reconstructed thanks to Urartuan and Assyrian texts, which refer continually and especially to regions close to Assyria, and to archaeological indexes — remain obscure. It is not until 714 B.C. that they suddenly appear in the Assyrian kingdom in the areas where Sargon had settled the Israelites. But the traditional Assyrian name for the northern kingdom was not "Sirilaa" (i.e. "Israel," rarely used) but rather Bit Humri (that is, House of Omri / Ambri, according to the Septuagint, that is, the name of an Israelitish king at the beginning of the 9th century). Besides, the conversion of the laryngeal h to gh is very frequent in the Assyrian of the second half of the 8th century.
Hence, the Bit Gumri are in fact the Ten Tribes of Israel, transported to Zagros, to whom many Assyrian texts refer, describing their activity in Zagros (as well as their arrival in that mountainous region).
III. The trail of the Cimmerians and Scythians
During the first half of the 8th century the Cimmerians and the Scythians, whom the Sargonides entrusted with various undertakings, intermingled in Zagros and in Anatolia. We must suppose that most of the first-generation Israelite-Cimmerians would have been dead by 640. Those born in Samaria in 723 would have been 83 years of age by 640! Life among the Assyrians, who were not strongly attached to monotheism, plus cultural mingling with the polytheistic peoples of the Empire and above all with those who lived in the same region (Medes, Manaï, Umman-Manda, Scythians, Urartuans, etc), and the partial loss of their identity and religion, were all undeniable facts. During this period the art of the Cimmerians appears as derivative of the Assyrian (as shown by the "treasure of Ziviyeh").
The trail of the Scythians and Cimmerians, who had become completely intermingled by 650, has long been known: first northward up to the Caucuses, and then, after crossing this mountainous area, to the north-west and west, across the Ukrainian plains, parallelling the north coast of the Black Sea. Thus they spread into an almost deserted northern Europe, right to its north-west extremities, from where they crossed into the British Isles, first to Ireland, thence to Scotland, and finally southward to the area known today as England. Cimbrians, Celts and Teutons all make up the ancient substrate common to all the peoples and races of northern Europe, from Russia to Ireland. Since Antiquity it has been known that Cimbrian and Cimmerian are the same word. Celts and Gauls are also the same word — this was known to scientists of last century. The etymology of the word Teuton has not yet been made clear (for lack of Celtic or Teutonic texts), but without doubt it can be considered as "Celtic" (this term being a convention, since one could also speak of a "Cimbrian" or "Cimmerian" etymology!); it is very probable that the word Teuton derives from the word Tuatha, which lives on in Gaelic (the neo-Celtic of Wales) and which means race. The German name for Germany is Deutschland or "land of the Teutons," the initial "T" having been changed to a "D." The Celts would have used the word race in as "recent" an era as the 4th or 3rd centuries B.C. to denote men of more eastern regions, whom they considered to be familiars. Similar migrations, greater or smaller in extent, would have been frequent. All of this has been known for much time.
What has not been known is the identification of the word "Cimmerian" with the Ten Tribes of Israel, and this has opened the way to interpreting what became of Assyria. When speaking of the Scythians (and the Cimmerians) during the period 600 – 550 B.C., for example, we use names derived from altered words from their original language; unfortunately, we don’t know what they originally called themselves or if they distinguished between themselves. Archaeological data indicates that they did not do so, and hence the word "Scythian" would have been used in 600 B.C. to designate other peoples whom it did not include in the initial term of 725 B.C. (Ishki-Gulu in Urartuan) . This means that the original Scythians from Central Asia would have been totally "lost," or assimilated. The terms "Cimmerian" and "Scythian" designate the Israelites and the Assyrians whose departure took place between 640 and 630 B.C.. Some Israelites left earlier, while others, far fewer in number, later remained in the region of Zagros. As for the Assyrians, it would be quite easy for them to lose their name, since in Assyrian the expressions "land of Assyria," "town of Assyria," "king of Assyria" and the word "Assyrian" simply mean "divine country," "divine town," "divine king" and "divine" (this latter term being used to characterize the people). Consequently, it would have been enough to teach the people the name of a different god (instead of Assur) so that the name "Assyrian" would be forgotten.
IV. Assyrian, Egyptian and Biblical References to the disappearance of the Assyrians and the Israelites
A. Assyrian References
From the beginning of the 2nd millennium, the monotheistic Assyrians composed the myth of Etana, in order to spread among the people a general but precise idea of their history and development over time. At the Second Coming, Etana (Messiah) would give the Eagle (in the myth the symbol of the monotheistic priesthood) his long-ago removed wings (as in Revelation 12:14: "but the woman received the two wings of a great eagle"), regather the scattered people and bring them to the One Tree, this __expression of human potential as well as the human approach to the divine. The Assyrians further composed the myth of Ninurta, of "the one who spreads the light," of the "Shining King" (in a manner which predetermines and announces the biblical references to the Messiah; see Amos 7:7–8 and Daniel 10:5–6) to describe his final magnificent return. Further, they developed prophetic myths in a symbolic context, according to which the monotheistic priesthood (Ishtar) would have completely disappeared from history during the absence of the Chosen People from their land, to reappear at the End of the Age; this is how they would serve at the final Return of the Messiah and in the organization of the purely monotheistic period which would follow. The disappearance of Ishtar (not of the people but of the priesthood) from the scene is described in the tragic epic titled "The Descent of Ishtar into the Underworld," which is capable of double interpretation, realistic and symbolic. The Underworld (Hell) is but the actual surface of the earth after the departure of Ishtar from the historic scene until the End of the Age (symbolic interpretation); but at the same time the disappearance of the monotheistic priesthood was followed by the setting-up of underground caverns used as studios for work, research and archives, and also for initiation and induction rooms, the opponents of which could approach only with difficulty. Further, Assyrian sages at the time of Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244–1208 B.C.) added a new nuance to the character of Sin (the Moon), by attributing to him, in various encoded symbols, characteristics of the "Chosen People:" just like his moon-shaped symbol, the people would always be "in danger." The terrible moonless night symbolized the scattering of the people. Just as "god" determined destiny, so Sin — the Chosen People — while deprived of his identity, would take in hand the development of History. It would not be odd for an Assyrian to abandon his house at the time the High Priest of the Temple of Ishtar at Arbeles would signal that the End of the Age had arrived. All Assyrians would have lived with this knowledge and expectation. Today, we understand that we cannot use our ways of thinking to interpret what took place at the heart of a different cultural ensemble in an epoch when the land surface of the earth had not yet been shared out and subdivided into nations.
B. Egyptian References
In Egypt the descent of the Monotheistic Priesthood into the Underworld is dealt with in the mythical and prophetic cycle of Isis, presented as a quest of Isis during which she seeks to regather the fragments of Osiris, namely, the human knowledge of God which has been lost. The Egyptians were centred about Ra, Isis and Horus and so they dealt with God, the monotheistic priesthood and the Messiah without developing a myth about the Chosen People, unlike the Assyrians who had done so with their myth of Sin. This is evidently related to the fact that the Egyptians were not the Chosen People (nor any part of them); so in this case we have a monotheistic priesthood imposing a monotheistic culture upon a people which this priesthood does not even consider to be the Chosen People. This may be astonishing perhaps, but today we know of many similar cases (for example, the messianic doctrines of Zoroaster which do not involve the Persians).
C. Historical and Biblical References
The Assyrians, a Chosen People according to the Bible
The Old Testament is filled with references to the scattering of the "Chosen People." We should note here that Assyria’s heeding of Jonah’s warning made them a new part of the "Chosen People," and this is not their own doing but is according to the Bible. Jonah’s warning was "in accordance with the prior warning" [Fr: sermon], that is, with that of Moses after which the Hebrews became a "Chosen People" in form and in substance. Consequently Jonah’s warning constituted, according to biblical criteria, the most important moment in history since the day Moses brought down the Ten Commandments. Even God asked, "and should I not pity Nineveh, that great city"? (Jonah 4:11) The texts of [1 and 2] Kings approve of the anti-polytheistic activity of the Sargonides. Finally, Asshurbanipal is described as "great and noble" (Ezra 4:10); he is the only non-Hebrew king named in the Bible accorded a stature equal to that of David or Solomon. We may conclude that biblical references to the scattering of the "Chosen People" involve the Assyrians also.
The tragic scattering of the "Chosen People" had long been predicted. In Deuteronomy God states: "I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men" (32:26). Isaiah adds that "with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people" (28:11) and that all other nations on earth will call them by a new name (62:2). Amos emphasizes: "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations," (9:9) yet noting that this is not a final scattering: it is not certain that I will also crush the children of Jacob"; "not the least grain [will] fall upon the earth." Also, it is evident that in certain cases it involves a migration to a precise locale: "Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime," (2 Samuel 7:10). In other words, they would go to almost uninhabited areas where there were no Arameans, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Urartuans, Neohittites, Egyptians, Arabs, Persians, Phrygians or Lydians around them, as there had been up to the 7th century B.C. (see 1 Chronicles 17:7).
The Direction of Flight
The Bible does mention the direction taken by the "Chosen People" to the north and north-west, and their arrival in the British Isles. Psalm 89:25 mentions the dominion of the descendants of David upon the sea! This certainly involves neither the Jews (who, as we know, have never been prominent in this domain), nor the ancient kingdom of Israel. Among all the Cimmero-Scythian peoples who came to north-west Europe, only those who were dominant in England and their descendants could lay claim to such a thalassocracy [an empire of the sea]. This is not accidental, since the phrase "I will set his hand also in the sea" signifies that the sceptre, the power, the very throne of David would be established in a country dominating the seas. Hosea is specific: "Ephraim herds the wind, and pursues the east wind all day long" (12:1), where the east wind (the sirocco) comes from north-east Assyria and blows to the north-west. Why does Isaiah (41:1) call on the "islands" to hear the message of the Lord? Why does Jeremiah (31:10) declare to the "isles afar off" that it will be the same God who scattered Israel, that "will gather him, and keep him"?
Besides the fact that the Assyrians themselves may be named "Israel" (meaning "strong") after they heeded Jonah’s warning (which means that everything we have so far read from the Bible applies also to them), there is a number of biblical references to the removal of the Assyrians from their country — a fact whose importance, compared to that of the flight of Israel, is undoubtedly much greater since this is a matter of a voluntary action by the sovereign people of the world empire par excellence ! It is a tragic and sudden act, a deed which even Jonah cannot endure: at the instant that the Assyrians heeded his warning and "God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did [it] not", that is, when everything seemed to be going well, "it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry"! It is quite evident that Jonah profoundly regretted something which he had at first refused to do and tried to sidestep his duty towards Nineveh. The cause of his sorrow was the fact, which he knew beforehand, that faithful citizens would have to evacuate their city whether they wished to or not. "So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city." Although Jonah disappears from history after departing from the Assyrians, satisfied with the manifestation of divine interest in Nineveh at the End of the Age (Jonah 4:11), Nahum provides more detail: "Yet [was] she carried away, she went into captivity" (3:10). Nahum, who titled his text "The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum" mentions the secret work of a particular Assyrian king (Asshurbanipal most certainly) who prepared for the departure of the Assyrians without the polytheistic priesthood and their political allies noticing it. "Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria; your nobles [Fr: generals] slumber. Your people are scattered on the mountains with none to gather them." (3:18) But note: what is more important is that the Assyrians did not go to a locale with native inhabitants to welcome them; there was no "state" where they ended up! Zephaniah’s statement about Nineveh, "how is she become a desolation" (2:15) exactly expresses his powerlessness to understand how the Mistress of the world disappeared without being either destroyed, enslaved or exterminated. Much earlier, Hosea had noted in the 8th century B.C. that difficulties and obstacles were part of the punishment of the "Chosen People," or as God puts it: "I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs" (13:8) The elderly Tobias, one of the last Israelites living in Ecbatana in about 610 B.C., "before his death … had the opportunity of rejoicing over the fate of Nineveh" (Tobit 14:15), not because of a malevolent or vindictive character, but because he had perhaps understood in his great age the true meaning of the words of his father Tobit: "I believe everything that Jonah said about Nineveh, that it will be destroyed. But in Media there will be peace to the end of the age.… I believe also that our brothers will be scattered far from the holy land … but God will pardon them again and He will bring them into our land." (14:4–6; trans. by the author.)
IV. Latest scientific data on the identification of the Assyrians and Israelites
So far we have based the general outline of this synthesis of history upon four points:
A. interpretation of ancient Assyrian and Biblical concepts about the "Chosen People" and their historic destiny;
B. interpretation of data from ancient Middle Eastern history;
C. a historical and scientific identification of the Israelites and Cimmerians; and
D. archaeological data on the evacuation of northern Mesopotamia, plus the long trail of the Cimmerians and Scythians (or the Assyro-Israelites) to the north-west.
But there are still two areas of research (rather limited to be honest) which can complete the reconstruction of the past and throw more light on some of its aspects, and these deal with the true character and name of a people and a race. It must be emphasized that this does not at all mean that every nation living today in northern Europe is without exception directly descended from the Assyro-Israelites. Not all are their descendants; those who are have also been well intermingled with various peoples. There were some native inhabitants already in the area, and later they mingled themselves with other nations and amongst themselves. Since antiquity migrations have been taking place with consequent intermingling, during the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, up to the present era. However, none of this refutes the fact that there is a part of the contemporary population which can be identified as descended from the Assyro-Israelites; and, above all, nothing can refute what Assyrian prophetic myths, plus texts from the Bible and the Koran, have predicted for them at the End of the Age, that is, the time during which the matter of their identity would be raised for the first time in 27 centuries.
(1) Identification of namesA. DAN
We begin with names, for since Antiquity it has been that a name expresses character. The most important fact in this domain is provided by the tribe of Dan (??? according to the Greek translation in the Septuagint). According to the ancient characterization which Jacob attributes in a decisive manner to his descendants, and more precisely to the heads of the Twelve Tribes (and the place of Levi and Joseph have been taken by the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh), "Dan shall be a serpent by the way" (Gen. 49:17) by leaving his traces, his mark, everywhere he goes; but also there are historical books such as Judges which lead us to the same conclusion. For example, in Judges 18:11–13 we read that the place name Kiriath-Jearim occupied by Dan was renamed Mahaneh-Dan, or "camp of Dan." This behavior was known to the other tribes. Right from the first days of their occupying of Canaan when the city of Leshem was captured and renamed Leshem Dan. (Joshua 19:48) (In this case, the original Massoretic Hebrew and the Alexandrine Codex are correct, while the Codex Vaticanus has a copying error which changes the original to Lashendak, the Hebrew letters for n and k being very similar.)
Dan would act in the same manner during their migration into north-east Assyria and later during their flight. In this way we can explain the fact that the whole region, extending from the Caucuses to the coasts and the islands of north-west Europe, passing through the plains of Russia and the Black Sea shores, is characterized by an incredible number of place names having the same root: the word Dan or one of its forms (Don, Den, Dn, etc). Consider: Dniepr, Dniestr, Don, Danube (or Donau), Daninn, Danaster, Dandari, Danez, Dan, Udon, Eridon, Denmark. But the progress of this expansion was not direct and without detours: first it was the western extremity of Europe and the British Isles which were flooded with immigrants: Dunkirk (the theatre of the wfamous battle during World War 2) in Flemish-Dutch means "church of Dan," and it is quite probable that this has to do with the change of an old Celtic temple, which kept the name of Dan, into a Christian church. In Great Britain we can cite Edinburgh, London, Dundee, Dunraven, and Aberdeen. In Ireland, where they arrived first (according to archaeological data and later traditions which preserve history) before moving on to Great Britain, we find: Danslaugh, Dansower, Dundalk, Dundrum, Donegal Bay, Donegal city, Dungloe, Dingle, Dunsmor, etc. Irish traditions even tell us that this island was first occupied by a certain Tuatha de Danaan ("tribe of Dan") who came from the east. This certainly does not indicate that this tribe was the only one to settle in Ireland, but that it is the only one whose name has remained to this day.
The name of another tribe of Israel has also survived down through the centuries, that of, or Gilead, the name of a mountain which was very close by. This name underlies the origin of Celts, Gauls, Wales (Galles in French), Walloons (the French-speaking people in the Walloon region of Belgium; also the "neo-Celtic" language of Ireland and Wales, which still survives today, is called Gaelic. Contemporary historians are well aware of the connections between all these names, and their identification with the Gaulish substrate (non-Franc) who dwelt alone in early France (it is not just Greek which has kept the traditional name Gallia, for the country known today as France, Frankreich, etc); and they also know that the Romans were not the first to use these names, but that the these are the Latin forms of Cimmerian names for themselves. These are their transcription in Latin (and it is through Latin that they have remained to our day). Only after a process of research, discovery, interpretation, identification and, especially, after the revelation of the identity of the Cimmerians, have we come to establish (no only for the link between the Cimmerians and the Scythians but also) the identification of all these names with one or other of the tribes of Israel. (However, it must be emphasized that this does not lead to the conclusion that all the Celtic peoples known to the Romans had a common origin.)
There is another, definitive detail: Gilead and Reuben were two tribes who intermingled greatly. This is mentioned not just in Deuteronomy (3:12: "And this land, [which] we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which [is] by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites."); further, we have evidence which bears clear witness to the fact that these tribes were located to the east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, where the Gaulonite and Jaoulan (Arabic) place names remind us (from Late Antiquity to the modern era) of their presence. Philemon, a contemporary of Aristotle, tells us that the Cimbrians (one part of them) called the Dead Sea "Mori Maroussa," as far as Cape Roubéa. "Mori Maroussa" can mean Dead Sea in their native language!
C. SCYTHIANS AND SAXONS
The Behistun inscription, wherein Darius commemorates the suppression of a revolt against Cambyses, his assassinated predecessor, shows us that the "great king" was not good at discerning the Scytho-Cimmerian populations in the far reaches of his empire, beyond the Caucuses, because the Scythians and the Cimmerians had been intermingling since the beginning of the 7th century B.C.. The trilingual inscription is in Babylonian (which continued as the official and administrative language for about twenty years after the fall of the Babylonian empire), Elamite (a dead language from 640 B.C. when the Assyrians annihilated Elam, and which was mainly a literary language), and Old Persian (from the Ashemenide era). In the place where the Babylonian text refers to the Ghimri (Ghumri, Cimmerians, i.e. Israelites), the Elamite text mentions the Saka, while the Persian alludes to the Sakka. This is the first mention of this name in these two languages. To whom does it refer? In fact, it is none other than the Scythian people, who the Ashemenidean scribe identifies with the Cimmerian-Israelites. Modern scientists render the word "Sakka" as "Scythian," but they are only partly right, since the first ones are but a part of the later ones. Further, the name Sak(k)a has no connection either with the Ishki-Gulu / Ishkuzi / Ashkenazim / Scythians, or with the Saxons [Fr: Saces] of the Persian and Greek texts, who were so-called only out of confusion, as they were a Scythian people from the East, living on what is today the border area between Iran and Afghanistan. But the Saxons of the West, also known as Sakaï-Suna (i.e. sons of Sakaï) in Celtic tradition, have long ago been identified as Saxons. This identification is very widely known and is presented in popular works (see New English Dictionary, article "Scots"; and Turner, The History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. 2, ch. 1, p.81). It is to be noted that these first Saxons are not identified as the later Saxons, who lived on the Cimbrian Peninsula, of Cimmerian origins, and would have already been assimilated into other peoples before heading west and giving their name to a region of Germany (Sachsen).
The fact that the Saxons and Scythians in the final analysis are the same people adds another important element to our thesis, even if the connection of the name Saka or Sakaï with that of Isaac, father of Jacob, might not be confirmed and established in the future. But such connections would not be at all extravagant: the initial letter yod (Hebrew Yitzhak) disappeared when Hebrew names were transliterated into Assyro-Babylonian, while the Hebrew letter tsade is rendered by s in all other languages. Lastly, the non-aspirated letter he always disappeared when Hebrew names were transliterated into Assyro-Babylonian. It is certain that this connection has not yet been widely accepted or else presented in an analytical scientific article based on solid evidence, even though it is more than probable. But, apart from that, the identification of the Sak(k)a "Scythians" with the Cimmerian-Israelites is certain. This fact had made a permanent impression in all Antiquity: even Diadorus of Sicily (II, 3), who lived during the time of Caesar, knew that certain peoples of the Scythians came from Assyria as well as from regions then inhabited by the Medes!
A linguistic essay on the origin of the name of the Britons (or British) links it to the Hebrew word berit (covenant); in this way berit-ish could mean "covenant men," a reality which according to the Bible characterizes the Hebrews. It matters little if this identification is right or wrong, as there exist a number of other elements which allow us to link the British with the tribe of Ephraim.
(2) Identification of Character
The character of Reuben-Gad (the French), like that of Dan (the Danes), of which we spoke earlier when analyzing their name, has been traced in the prophecies of Jacob (Genesis 49:3–4, 19). Reuben would be rough and insolent, quite ingenious (see the description in Genesis 37:21–22) and characteristically frivolous. Because of this, he loses the birthright (1 Chronicles 5:1). Also, his agricultural bent is well known (Numbers 32:1). All these traits which make up the character of the Gauls, and that of the "French," are thrown into relief by certain Frenchmen (such as La Bruyère) who conducted themselves seriously and moderately. Germans and Muscovites are the same people. The name of the Russian capital takes its origins from the name of a people, the Mushki, whose presence in southern Russia, north of the Caucuses, was known to the Assyrians before 1200 B.C. and of whom a part, after having crossed the Caucuses and Anatolia, were predominant in the north-west reaches of Assyria and, gradually intermingling with the other people in the region, gave rise to the people known to the Greeks as "Phrygians." The name "Moscow" has existed in their region for centuries and millennia. Indeed, modern Muscovites have no true racial connection with the other Russian peoples, whom they still regard today as different. The true ancestors of the Muscovites arrived in a later epoch. Despite much intermingling of their descendants with Slavic peoples, the ancient Muscovites were in fact a nordic Celtic people (the Varengians) who, leaving Scandinavia, turned east and moved to the region around Moscow in an epoch as late as the 9th and 10th centuries. The name Varengians [Fr: Varègues] (Warag) has the same origin as the Gaelic name of Wallach. The Germans, as well as the Muscovites, are continental and imperial peoples, agriculturalists, stock breeders, traders, and fierce warriors. In other words, in them are all the character traits of the Assyrians. Furthermore, they are, despite their intermingling with other peoples, quite numerous. Finally, it has been prophesied that the very throne of David would be preserved and be found in Ephraim, or among the Britons.
V. Transfer of the throne from Judah in Jerusalem to Ephraim (Great Britain) in London
Before examining how the very throne of David was carried to Great Britain, where it remains today (in Westminster Abbey, "West Minster," the "western monastery"), serving as the Coronation Throne of every British king (that is, every Israelite king of the tribe of Ephraim) until the End of the Age, we need to examine several biblical references to the throne, as well as to its preservation until the return of the Messiah the End of the Age.
A Single Throne from Jacob to the Messiah
The Bible provides no information at all about the destiny of the stone of Jacob (Genesis 28:11–22). Evidently Jacob, as part of the blessing ritual, carved an inscription on it. In Antiquity it was impossible to perform such a ritual, just as with changing the name of the region in question, without fulfilling the event with a brief inscription, preferably carved on a sacred object. It is very probable that Jacob, on his journey, had carried with him the "house of God" (the name of the stone), as part and parcel of the sacred site where he had had the Vision. It is for this very reason that during the ritual he erected the stone as a "stele," as stones placed on end symbolized a divine manifestation among the Hebrews, as it did among the monotheistic Assyrians from the end of the 3rd millennium. The Twelve Tribes of Israel did not, properly speaking, constitute a "kingdom" either in Egypt, or in Sinai under Moses, or under Joshua or the judges. Even so, they carried this stone with them for hundreds of years! It was not until Saul that they had their first king, when the Twelve Tribes decided to establish a kingdom, imitating the other "nations." But there has been no heir.
However, since the accession of David and Solomon to the throne, there has been a continuous line of kings uninterrupted to our day, each crowned on the same throne; and so it will continue until the End of the Age. Solomon ( Hebrew Shlomo) "sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father" (1 Chronicles 29:23). The Queen of Sheba, sent by God, told Solomon that "because your God loved Israel and would establish them for ever, he has made you king over them" (9:8). This throne could be no other than the stone blessed by Jacob. To use the plain meaning of terms would surely make it absurd, and to ignore the Bible, to imagine Solomon sitting on a self-proclaimed "divine" or else "imaginary" throne. Such an interpretation would betray an attempt at a gnostic or Christian interpretation, which, if applied to a biblical text, would be criticized by modern scientists as devoid of all foundation. Most notably, Solomon did not sit upon the non-material (but very real) throne of the Lord.
Apart from that, there is a multitude of Biblical references to the throne which attest to these facts. It was not just any unimportant throne, and God through Nathan emphasized it, addressing David (speaking of Solomon): "I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever" (2 Samuel 7:12–13), and later, "your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever." (v.16) Evidently, the interest of Adonai assures us of the exceptional origin of the stone throne of Solomon; further, this demonstrates the possibility of its preservation among the lost and scattered Israelites, and its use as a throne by the heirs of David (and not as just any object). God, according to Psalm 89, stresses to David that "I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations." (v.4) Later in the same Psalm he repeats: "I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens." (v.30) Further on again, we read: "His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established for ever; it shall stand firm while the skies endure." (vv. 36–37) We probably don’t need to harp on the fact of the preservation of the throne, since biblical references abound; it would also be absurd to expect the Messiah to sit on a non-existent throne, one that had not been preserved until his return and which is identical to the one destined for him and about which Isaiah informs us in his prophecies, where we see that this throne is that of David ("Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom…" Isaiah 9:6).
The Throne is preserved in Israel and not Judah
It is certain that until the subjugation of the kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, including Zedekiah, all the heirs of Solomon sat on his throne in Jerusalem. We know that the throne was not located in Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. So is there some special reason for its transfer to the house of Israel, which had been lost by 586 B.C.? This topic is not at all a simple one. Besides, it is not just the throne which is to be preserved until the End of the Age, but also the very line of David! This requires a single throne and a single dynasty and, while both elements can today be considered as one, the Bible does not so consider them, employing a different way of thinking and a different mentality.
Birthright and Right of the Sceptre
This is one matter on which the Bible is always quite precise. Reuben was the eldest child (Genesis 49:3), but he lost his birthright, it being transferred to Joseph, eleventh of the twelve sons of Jacob and first son of Rachel, and from Joseph it passed to his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, the grandsons of Jacob, of whom Jacob had said, "And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are." (Gen 48:5) Being firstborn signifies preservation of name. Ephraim and Manasseh would follow their paths together and preserve for themselves the name of Israel, which would also be attributed to all those who would follow them. At their blessing, Jacob prophesied that "his descendants shall become a multitude of nations" (Genesis 48:19; that is Ephraim alone would rule over many nations, which reminds us of the quite exceptional case of the British Commonwealth), while Manasseh would become "a people, and he also shall be great" (v.19). This special blessing of these two tribes foreshadowed particular common interests between them. This was the case during Antiquity and evidently gave the impression that their separation would take place at very late era, only shortly before the End of the Age (for the "complete" scattering of the "Chosen People" see Daniel 12:7). Consequently, Manasseh reminds us of the formation of the United States and its separation from Great Britain.
Judah, on the contrary, would keep the sceptre, that is, the continuation of the dynasty, as well as the throne (Genesis 49:8–10) until the End of the Age: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." This is something which the historical books also emphasize: "though Judah became strong among his brothers and a prince was from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph" (1 Chronicles 5:1).
What was to take place according to the Bible, and in fact did take place, often vindicated today by the reconstruction of history, is what the Lord said to Jeremiah: "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known … concerning the houses of the kings of Judah" (Jer. 33:3–4). All of this certainly was in keeping with Jeremiah’s mission which God himself had predetermined thus: "See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to [re]build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) What does this mean? It means precisely that "none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah" (Jeremiah 22:30). The throne and the dynasty would no longer be found among the Jews. This does not mean at all that they would disappear; they would be transplanted in Israel and it is this mission that God metaphorically presents to Jeremiah; it would be his in the future. While taking the verb "[re]build" in its figurative sense, it is certain that its use in the Four Great Prophecies shows that it is not dealing with a physical building but rather something far more serious and crucial — something which, nevertheless, was not unknown: Isaiah had already emphasized: "the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward" (37:31). In view of the departure of the Israelites, Isaiah surely did not understand by "surviving remnants" (in 701 B.C.) that these were the Jews. As a result, it being given that these survivors would have to carry out the tasks described in the above passage, God emphasized through his agent Isaiah that the siege of Jerusalem, carried out by Sennacherib, would fail — and fail it did. Thus Jeremiah was to accompany several descendants and the throne of a "lost" Israel.
We are in the years 585–580 B.C. The Assyrians and the Ten Tribes of Israel would by now expanded into northern and eastern Europe, some sixty years ago. Some of them have already reached the western islands. Since 722 B.C., a century and a half ago, the Israelites have been without king or throne, a situation predicted by Hosea: "the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince" (3:4). This could not have happened before 722 B.C.. It is because of this lack of a sovereign that Ezekiel had predicted that God would relocate several descendants and "on the mountain height of Israel will I plant [them]". (Ezekiel 17:23) The entirety of Ezekiel 17 raises the question of transplanting the descendants, notably female, and the dynasty of David to a place where Israel would have already settled, there to remain far from their own land until the End of the Age. Reference is made in a dazzling context to the monotheistic priesthood: "a great eagle with great wings and long pinions, rich in plumage of many colors" (Ezekiel 17:3; compare with ch. IV, A: Etana). In verses 3 and 4 he describes the "eagle" carrying out the task ("took the top of the cedar; he broke off the topmost of its young twigs" : a metaphoric representation of the descendants of David) which God describes as His own desire in verse 22 ("I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar, and will set it out; I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one" — note that a tender twig alludes to the female element), stating that "I myself will plant it upon a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit". Finally, He predicts the great power of Ephraim (Great Britain): "and become a noble cedar" (v23).
The Descendants and the Throne
If all of this was told in advance, what evidence do we have that it happened? In what terms can we discuss the descendants of the two last kings? We know that Joachim was imprisoned in Babylon until he was honored by Awilu Marduk (known in Hebrew as "Evilmerodach," or "Man-Marduk," a man-god dying and being reborn after the manner of the chief god of Babylonian polytheism), in the 37th year of his captivity. We know that his son, Zerubbabel returned after 539 B.C., but we know also that he did not "reign" in Judah. We know that the last king, Zedekiah, was killed after witnessing the slaying of his sons. But we know also that the daughters of Zedekiah were saved! This is of primary importance to a people whose tradition is that the continuation of the race depends on the mother rather than the father. Hence Jeremiah discovers amid the ruins and bodies "all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king's daughters and all the people who were left at Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam." (Jeremiah 41:10) We know that Jeremiah and Baruch were taken to Egypt, but at this point the narrative in Jeremiah ends abruptly because Jeremiah refuses to go into Egypt and afterwards disappears from the "official record." The Bible offers us no solid historical account which could inform us of the destiny of a small group of people who, under Jeremiah’s guidance, would have to undertake a truly difficult journey across Canaan, northern Mesopotamia and the Caucuses and then westwards to Ireland. But who could be familiar enough with this to describe it? Ezra or Nehemiah? Even so, it is not difficult to retrace their steps and to reconstruct their route with the help of the biblical context mentioned above: the mission of Jeremiah, the "replanting" of the throne of Judah in Israel and its preservation.
But the historic approach does not end here: those who departed may disappear from the historic context of the Bible, but nevertheless we rediscover them in Irish traditions which describe their arrival in that country. in short, we discover the very throne! In Irish tradition the departure point is located somewhere towards the East, and further there is the legend of the arrival of a venerable elderly man often named the "Holy One." People and holy objects arrived with him! His assistant was called Breck or Berech or Brach — a name which reminds us of Baruch. Tea Tephi (a name given to many women in the Bible), daughter of a Levantine king, accompanied them. One of the sons of a native king, descended from the Tuatha de Danaan, who would have settled in Ireland much earlier, married Tea and on ascending the throne, took the title "Herremon" — a word also of Hebrew origin. According to tradition, his crown, which was placed on the head of all kings of ancient Ireland, bore twelve notable emblems. Indeed, the throne would have been carried by the old "Holy One," along with other items, from the eastern kingdom. This throne is that on which have sat, successively, all the kings of ancient Ireland up to Earca, then, starting with the Scot Fergus Mor, all the kings of Scotland until Mary Stuart and, finally, from James VI of Scotland and James I of England, all the kings of Great Britain down to Elizabeth II.
This throne has a strange name: "liafail." This is a palindrome, a word which reads the same from left to right or right to left. The throne, surnamed "Stone of Destiny," consists of a stone enclosed and fixed in the throne in timber, which three lines of Irish, Scottish and English kings have occupied, one after the other. All one can see of this stone is one of its four vertical sides and neither of its horizontal ones. It cannot ne removed from its timber enclosure without threatening the very destiny of the Ephraimite kings of Great Britain. Today it is kept in Westminster Abbey, and any interested visitor may see it, even touch it, but not be able to make out the ancient inscription which the very grandson of Abraham, Jacob, carved in it as part of the famous ritual, well before David had sat upon it.
VI. Jesus, the Gospels, Mohammed and the Koran regarding the destiny of the "Chosen People"
The Jews, as well as other peoples, have maintained right up to this day a crucial distinction between Israel and Judah. This distinction is clear to the Muslims also, since the Koran speaks of the two groups. It is not only in the Christian context that we find these two names muddled, resulting in widespread confusion when a Roman Mithraist polytheistic priesthood declared itself to be the "Chosen People" (!), asserting that the true Chosen People had certainly "disappeared." Today we well know that this pretence was a political and ideological "firework;" it was a total lie. Obviously, the scientific approach allows us today to detect new facts and to confirm other data already known from surviving books and texts.
At the time of Jesus, when it was common knowledge that the Samaritans with their Judaised religion were not "Israelites" but rather the descendants of Arameans and Babylonians, whom Sargon of Assyria and his successors had settled there, Jesus knew very well what he meant by addressing these words to the centurion: "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." (Matthew 8:10) This shows us, even if we accept the traditional interpretation — religious and not scientific — of the Gospel texts which describe the life of Jesus, that Jesus would have spent a period of his life in Great Britain before the age of 30. It is very important to note that Jesus spoke — on this occasion — of the return of Israel at the End of the Age. Such was the meaning of the command addressed to those considered his disciples: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:5–6), but the apostles, as far as we know, did not obey.
Jesus particularly emphasizes the return of the Assyrians themselves: "The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it" (Luke 11:32). This does not mean, of course, that certain Assyrians will literally climb out of their tombs, as monks of the Middle Age idiotically taught in order to alter the real meaning of the verb "to rise up" (and at their time they succeeded). We know full well that in the time before Jesus Christ "leaving the tomb" was not included in the various ideas expressed by this Greek verb. Consequently, this passage clearly predicts that the descendants of the Assyrians shall return to play a major role at the End of the Age.
Many texts in the Old Testament, as well as the Gospels, can be interpreted as implying the calling of Mohammed and his Prophecy. We shall not here mention his possible identification with "the Spirit of Truth" (John 14:16), which according to Islamic teaching characterizes him (since "Truth," in Arabic Al Haq, is a surname of God). Here we are concerned with the divine command: "Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd. For lo, I am raising up in the land a new shepherd" (Zechariah 11:15–16), which is of great importance. This "shepherd" could be identified as Mohammed. It is interesting that Zechariah later explains the cause of the failure of the mission initially foreseen for Mohammed: "[he] does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heals the maimed, or nourishes the sound, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs. Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword smite his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!" (vv. 16–17) If all the difficulties and problems of Islam after the death of Mohammed and the assassination of the first Imam, Ali ("his arm"), are due to the "mistakes" of the Prophet, these consist of the omission of two of his tasks: the Prophet did not take care of "those who risk being struck down" and did not seek the wandering, i.e. scattered Israel.
As for the Assyrians and the Ten Tribes of Israel (in Arabic Banu Israel), the Koran is witness to the respect, the esteem and the care towards them. In chapter 10, titled "Jonah," we have a very clear mention of the lost Assyrians, quite naturally called the People of Jonah: "Otherwise, many cities would have embraced the Faith and tasted its advantages. Only the people of Jonah believed in their predestination. They delivered themselves from the terrible danger threatening them in the world. We have permitted them to exist to the End of the Age." (10:98) There are similar mentions of the Banu Israel.
All of this is certainly a scientific interpretation of a Biblical and Koranic subject whose origin goes back to Ancient Mesopotamia. As to the substance of this matter, it must be emphasized that it has been only half developed here — although it does agree with other historical, philological and archaeological data. Science does not know how to predict the future, and the attempt would go beyond its scope and competence. But the Great Future of the Assyrians and the Israelites constitutes the second half of this subject and it consists in their remarkable return to their land, helped by the Messiah! Note that Prophecy and the Ancient Prophetic Myth place this event in the context of the End of the Age, or that of a short period of terrible events during which a regime will collapse, a regime based on lies, fraud and error, it having being the hope and purpose of the idolatrous polytheistic priesthood. Consequently, the task of science must be to present historic continuity, the development of history, as well as developments in numerous subjects, of their special and particular aspects. This interpretive essay could make a contribution to the annihilation of "Babylon." If this is the case, it must be acknowledged that there has been no ulterior motive, no personal interest.
Greek citizen of Turkish origin, Prof. Megalommatis studied and/or worked in Turkey, Greece, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Russia, and carried out research trips throughout the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and Central Asia. His career extended from Research & Education, Journalism, Publications, Photography, and Translation to Website Development, Human Rights Advocacy, Marketing, Sales & Brokerage. He traveled in more than 80 countries in 5 continents. He defends the Right of Aramaeans, Oromos, Berbers, and Beja to National Independence, demands international recognition for Somaliland, and denounces Islamic Terrorism.
Venus al Iraq
The term Southern hospitality is indeed universal. From the moment you set foot in the home of this Basra native, you will feel welcomed by the warmth of the candle-lit, aromatic ambiance of her Chicago North Side residence.
Born Agnes Youkhana, Venus was born in Basra, educated in Fao and Baghdad. She began singing while in grammar school during school functions. Turning her singing act into a professional career in 1973, she chose the name Venus. The name, much to her liking, is of the Island of Venus – Cyprus, once conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 709 B.C.
Venus has enjoyed the onset of her career at the height of Iraq’s modern musical and theatrical glamour – stardom at the renowned Baghdad Culture Clubs - Nadi Al Thaqafi, Nadi Al Athouri, Nadi Babel Al Chaldani. A rarity among her peers, achieved only by a few select Assyrian artists, Venus has attained Bi-Cultural fame, crossing into mainstream art, becoming nationally known in her native Iraq, where she has been bestowed with an Honorary Award from The Iraqi Union of Artists.
Did you know? That Venus was the voice behind the radio personality and TV Kirkuk – aired from Baghdad in 1973? She was also very athletic in Volleyball and Track & Field. In fact, she considers the Assyrian woman in Iraq to be much more active than in the United States, adds Venus “the Assyrian woman in the States is preoccupied with the office and home. But that is all! This, to me, is no more than an excuse. If a woman wants to achieve something, she can do it.”
On Iraq - “No one can feel for the Iraqis what they have endured,” shares Venus, who has sold her own stage wardrobe and house furniture to feed her children.” “But the Iraqis are strong-willed, and they have high moral expectations, and so we survived, not one, but two wars.” Turning corners, “among many other families we took refuge into neighboring Jordan,” where Venus began a second chapter in her singing career, enjoying many concerts (umsiyat) during the latter years in Jordan.
On goals – Venus does not calculate time with age. Personally, she feels that she has not had the break she’s longed for, that at the appropriate time the right opportunity will present itself and she will grab it. In the meantime, she wants to work on projects that are in line with modern Assyrian timeline. In fact, she looks for distinguished projects; even in lyrics for her songs she prefers material that is particular with current circumstances. Venus’ recent projects have been the release of her two CD’s ~ one in Assyrian “Parouqy Maneeleh” and the second Iraqi Folklore. Additionally, she took center stage at the production of “A Bride from Baghdad,” (currently on DVD and VHS) a sold out show in Michigan and San Diego. Venus graced the stage with her acting abilities, mesmerizing her audience, some who were fans from Iraq’s 70’s, and others, the younger generation, who opened up to her Iraqi dialect, and were very receptive of her as an Iraqi woman having achieved great strides in stardom.
Throughout her singing and acting career, Venus feels that she is still sailing smoothly. She has lived for art, not used art as a means to live. She is true to her colors, and in the Chicago community, she has been very active, oftentimes spotted in rallies and demonstrations. In her last album, Venus wanted to express to her audience the effects of the orchestrated mistreatment of Assyrians in Iraq during the 2004 Iraqi National Elections, depriving thousands from receiving ballots, and from exercising their constitutional rights to vote, a first in Iraq’s history. Like a trooper, Venus set the motion in gear and recorded “Basoree Bemenyana“ singing about the injustice that was served during the elections, recorded in bi-lingual Assyrian and Arabic.
On Lyrics - Venus prefers women writers because only a woman can reach the depth of another woman’s heart. A male lyricist oftentimes describes the human feelings in lyrics from a man’s perspective while a woman sings his songs.
On Stardom - In her community, Venus has remained faithful, delivering a message to her all-around torn nation these days. Oftentimes as an artist she has suffered the backlash of losing fame at a cost?! But to this artist, success that comes in fast lanes and signed contracts is worth risking for one’s national honor. Rarely have artists taken such long and narrow paths, sacrificing monetary glory. This, without a question, places Venus in the stature of other international female artists who are famous for being proactive and outspoken during times of war and have been directly responsible for uniting the people ~ Fairouz and Majida El Roumy are two such artists who have delivered the message, greater than just a song, an awakening to one’s national cause.
Among her prized accomplishments are her two sons – Ronnie and Rami. The younger, Rami, is a well-known violinist to the Chicago-Assyrians and surrounding communities. “But parenting, Venus shares did not come overnight, and by no stretch of the imagination was it easy, especially after the war tore Iraq – its economy, communities and the luxurious lifestyles that its people were accustomed to.”
During the interview, Venus often spoke about her relationship with her father Mr. Youkahna, whom she considers to be the most complete man in her life, one who’s had a primal affect on her life choices of integrity, teaching her valuable lessons about maintaining vigil in times of hardship and remaining true to her Classical style.
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