Vol III, Issue 41

I Kanoon 22, 6747                   December 22, 1997

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z E N D A


The Lighthouse Santa Claus of Lycia, Turkey
Good Morning 
Suspected Kurdish Rebels Kill Six Assyrians in Northern Iraq 
Christians Among Executed in the Iraqi Prison
Surfs Up "Keep your symbolism to yourself."
Surfers Corner Protection of Our Ancient Artifacts
News Digest Maronite Patriarch Meets Aoun in Paris
Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyrian Universal Alliance 
Assyriska Demokratiska Rörelsen
Pump up the Volume Barber & Broker
Back to the Future Deification of the Mesopotamian Kings & The Wife of Hulaku Khan
Literatus Just A Passing Whim
This Week in History William Daniel
Bravo Nebu Issabey & His Nineveh Choir

Despite all modern myths and legends, Santa Claus did not live in the North Pole, but in southwestern Turkey, a coastal region along the Mediterranean Sea.  St. Nicholas, as was his real name, was born in the city of Patara, around the same time as the Roman emperors, Diocletian (284-305 AD) and Constantin (306-337 AD).  Lycia, along the southwestern coast of Turkey,  is an area dominated by mountains and covered by forests, a typical Mediterranean lowland.  Before the Persians and the Greeks, Lycia was governed in the form of a federation of cities and inhabited by non-Semitic people of Anatolia.  Its citizens spoke a dialect of Indo-European origin.  Hittites and Egyptians referred to Lycia as the nation of Lukka.  Today's school children are reminded of the famous king of Lycia, Croesus, who was defeated in the hands of the Persian king in 546 B.C.  Much of the known world at the time of St. Nicholas was dominated by two superpowers, Rome and Persia.  Romans adhered to their pagan religions while Christianity was fast flourishing in the Persian Empire under the spiritual guidance of the Assyrian Patriarchs.  As long as the Romans remained intolerent of the Christians, the Persian kings, followers of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, did not fear the rapid growth of Christianity in their kingdom.

In 312 AD, Roman emperor, Constantine, gave Christianity an equality of status with the pagan cults and terminated the policy of persecution by issuing the Edict of Toleration to all religions.  He built churches and Basilicas in his empire, but maintained his reverence for the deities of his imperial pagan religions of Sol Invictus and Mithraism.   Lycia's opposition against the Persians  was rewarded by the Romans with independence from the Roman province of Anatolia.  In 321 AD, Constantine in honor of the Sun god, enacted that the Sabbath must be observed on the venerable day of the Sun (Sunday), and not on Saturday.  This was a purely political move to appease the discontent between the growing numbers of Christians in Rome and their pagan rivals.  It was also an ingenious ploy to attract the attention of the Christians living in the spheres of Persian influence.  These were mainly the members of the Assyrain Church.  Until then Jesus' birthday was observed on January 6th.  Constantine, in observance of both Sol Invictus and Mithraism, decreed the religious day of Natalis Invictus, a pagan ritual, the midwinter solstice on December 25th, as the Western Church's day of Christmas or the Birthday of Jesus. This is similar to the ancient festival of Yalda celebrated by Zoroastrians in Iran (ancient Persia).

At this time a controversy was troubling the leaders of the Christian world. Arius, a student of the Lucian of Antioch, had proposed that "Jesus had a beginning" and "prior to his generation he did not exist" and therefore he must be called God in name only.  Arius was soon excommunicated from the Church and his followers continued to grow in number.  Emperor Constantine therefore summoned all Church leaders to the The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the first ecumenical council to be assembled.  It is said that 318 bishops attended with the aim of reaching a consensus over the status of Jesus.  Constantine ruled in favor of the Nicene Creed in which the relations of Jesus to the Father was defined as of one substance.  Arianism was now a heresy and those who rejected the Nicene Creed were to be banished.  The Assyrian Church was not officially represented at the Council and the Assyrian bishops who did attend the Council were present only as observers (i.e. James of Nisibis & John of Persia).

It was during this time that St. Nicholas of Patara, Lycia embraced priesthood and was finally chosen as the archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Prior to Constantine's Edict he was imprisoned for his Christian faith by Emperor Diocletian.  In 325 AD he too attended the Council in Nicaea and is said to have struck the face of Arius with his hand. For this act, he was removed from the Council.  After the ratification of anti-Arian Nicene Creed he was returned to his post with full honors.  With the Christianization of the Roman Empire the Zoroastrian King of Persia, Shapur, now looked upon the Assyrian Church in his kingdom as a threat to national security. Assyrians were said to be sympathetic to the Western Christians and the powerful Patriarch a possible instigator of anti-Persian revolts.  The unity of the Assyrian and Roman churches could be the end of Persian rule in Asia, thought the paranoid Zoroastrain king.   In 339 Shapur decreed the persecution of Assyrians in his kingdom which lasted forty years. Four years later St. Nicholas died on December 6th, 341 AD.  Three decades and hundreds of thousands of Assyrian martyrs later the Assyrian church accepted the Nicaean doctrines without accepting a formal unity of the Eastern and Western Churches.

St. Nicholas' generosity and love for children became legendary and later in the Middle Ages he became known as Santa Claus, patron of the children.  St. Nicholas brought gifts to children in his red-and-white bishop's robes and rode on a donkey.  Constantine too was finally baptized as a Christian on his deathbed.  Today, much of the Christian world, including most Assyrian churches, observe the birth of Jesus on the day of Natalis Invictus.  And of Santa Claus's North Pole?  Patara in Turkey is now declared off-limits for development as a nesting place for- no not Santa's elfs and raindeers- rather sea turtles.

Staff of ZENDA


(ZNDA: San Jose)  ZENDA has confirmed that in a brutal attack against a group of Assyrian travelers in northern Iraq six Assyrians from Mangesh were killed by suspected PKK rebels.  A report from the Political Bureau of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) in Arbil, Northern Iraq indicated that on the morning of Saturday, 13 December, a group of the Kurdistan Workers Party members ambushed a group of Assyrians traveling from Mangesh to Dohuk.  The attackers killed six Assyrian men and wounded a woman.  The victims were identified as::

Sliwa Jemo
Samir Isho
Majed Shimoun
Arkan Hirmez
Salem Yousef Uraha "Kasheera" (ADM member)
Naji Mikho
Wardiya Yousef Uraha (wife of Naji Mikho)

Last week the Turkish troops, backed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) killed 182 PKK rebels, according to the Turkish Anatolia News Agency.  The PKK has been fighting for an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Nearly 28,000 civilians and combatants on both sides have been killed in the war.  The Turkish army also killed five PKK rebels as they attempted to cross into Turkey from Syria.  They were detected by thermal cameras positioned on the border. There were no reports of Turkish army casualties.  Turkey accused Syria of backing the rebels and of sheltering armed militants on its territory, although Syria denies the allegations.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement in Arbil has called upon "the leaderships responsible for such practices to put an end to such policies that endanger the lives of the innocent people and the general interests as the patriotic struggle deviates from its essential line"  The Report explains that "such crimes will by no mean weaken our (Zowaa) will or belief in the just cause of our people. On the contrary, such practices will increase our determination to resume our struggle to consolidate our national existence and fulfill our legitimate aspirations."  ZENDA was unable to confirm the identity of the killers at press time.


(ZNIN:  London)  According to reports from the Iraqi Broadcasting Corporation the Iraqi regime recently carried out mass executions in the Abu Ghraib Prison near Baghdad.  As many as 1200 prisoners may have been killed by the Special Guards as directed by Saddam Hussein's younger son, Qusay.  The reports indicate that the executions began on November 20, and continued daily. The bodies of some of the executed were returned to their families, with several showing evidence of torture.
Of the 154 names released one was identified as Hana Polis Luqa of Baghdad, Iraq.  Other Christians are believed to have been among the executed prisoners.  Most victims were charged with treason, smuggling, and incitement.


"Please accept my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a blessed and happy 1998 for the staff of ZENDA and your readers.  The new ZENDA format and its method of publication are fabulous; congratulations for such historic achievements and may God bless you!"
Mar Bawai Soro
Bishop of Seattle
General Secretary of Inter-Church Relations
Assyrian Church of the East

"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, ZENDA staff."
Sam Kosa
San Diego, California

"Oh please, spare me! I'm getting ill hearing about people trying to shove "The Birthday Boy" into Christmas!  Let's get real, Christmas is all about business.  Sales departments are trying to earn as much as they can in the fourth quarter to impress the
Executives.  Historical and scientific evidence show that Jesus was not born in the winter, so keep your symbolism to yourselves.  About the turmoil and broken peace around the world...name one conflict that doesn't have religion written all over it.  Can we just enjoy Christmas for what it's worth and stop making it anymore complicated?"

Helbard Alkhass-Adeh
Santa Cruz, California


Present-day Iraq, as we are all well too aware, has its share of problems.  As Assyrians, it pains us greatly to witness the devastation taking place in our ancestral homeland.  What has mainly been at the forefront of our concerns as of late has been the plight of the Assyrians living in northern Iraq.  Many Assyrians living outside Iraq have been quite committed to the
task of supporting our brothers and sisters still inside.  Despite the American-led sanctions, a large portion of Assyrians have done their best to send medical supplies and other needed necessities into Iraq.  Whether motivated by guilt, generosity, or a sense of obligation, we have all in some ways made our contributions, however small.

Now another current event in Iraq desperately beckons our help.  It appears that the state of poverty and misery which has engulfed Iraq is now affecting the country's ancient treasures.  Archeological sites and museums housing ancient Mesopotamian artifacts have been looted and sold or smuggled out of the country.  According to Donny Youkhana, Director of Antiquities in
Iraq, with the government's assets frozen and the country's infrastructure in ruins, little remains to help support and protect Iraq's antiquities.  Desperate Iraqis have attempted, and been successful, at looting local museums - some were actually the security guards hired to protect them.  Many have started their own archeological search for ancient artifacts in the hopes of smuggling them out of the country or selling them for far less than what they are actually worth.  Most of the treasures that are found are smuggled into Turkey, although it is unclear whether they remain there or are then sold to the outside market.  In some cases the findings are cut into pieces in an effort to smuggle them out of the country.  This was the case with tablets dating back to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, as well as with one individual who had destroyed the head of the Assyrian Winged Bull.
Another item that was smuggled into Turkey was an antique gazelle-leather-bound Bible allegedly worth $1.5 million.  Obviously, the negative effects of these actions will forever remain.  Evidence of our nation's greatness are being dismantled, and in some cases vanishing all together.  As we all know, the world at large knows little, if anything, of our great culture and people.  These valuable antiquities and archeological sites are testament to our nation's greatness and achievements.  To have them destroyed is not only tragic, but threatens our very identity.

Iraq's official response to this latest disaster has been to, again, blame the United Nations.  They state that certain UN workers have taken advantage of their diplomatic privileges by helping themselves to the country's wealth of archeological findings.  Although I am personally reluctant to agree with anything said by the current corrupt regime in Iraq, apparently a UN worker from Chile was caught red-handed with some of these items.  Prosecuting such an action, if true, is out of the question due to diplomatic immunity.

What I personally also find disappointing is that there are many of our own people who actually support the removal of these antiquities.  They feel that housing these treasures in western countries (if that is where these pieces are going) will be an improvement, and that they will be better protected.  First of all, I find this argument to be racist.  The notion that people in the Third World are so backward and incapable of managing their own affairs that they need western countries to intervene on their behalf to save them from themselves is demeaning.  Which is the goal - in order to justify any action taken against any individual/nation, the offense is usually to downgrade or dehumanize the other side, thereby making any action justifiable.  Hitler used this tactic against the Jews, and the United States against the North Vietnamese.  Besides, even if this were the
case, how would one explain the success that both Egypt and Syria have had in protecting their archeological sites (Egypt obviously with its pyramids, Valley of the Kings, and numerous tomb findings, and Syria with Palmyrna, as
well as others.)  Secondly, despite our disgust with the governments in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, we must remember that situations change.

One day, however impossible this may be to believe now, Iraq and hopefully other Middle Eastern countries, may actually enjoy democracy and stability.  Removing antiquities is not a temporary thing - once they leave, they're gone forever.  Finally, even if one agrees with the idea that western nations can better protect such items, the actual removal in itself is still destructive.  Would the world still be in such awe of Egypt's great history if the pyramids' stones were displayed in different museums in different parts of the world?  How about if only half of the Greek Acropolis columns were to remain?  It definitely takes away from the whole picture, doesn't it?  According to Dr. Elizabeth Stone, Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York in Stonybrook, the process of removing these treasures is itself destructive.  Looters and buyers alike are only looking for the most valuable of these antiquities; in order to smuggle them out, they actually must be dismantled, therefore resulting in the loss of much information.  Dr. Stone equates those who take part in this illegal activity to those involved in organized crime.  She states that until the buyers are held responsible for their actions, little can be done.

So how may these people be held responsible for such actions?  The majority of our Assyrian organizations have made supporting our people still inside a priority, and rightly so.  How can our small nation still keep this as a priority, as well as lobby for the protection of our ancient artifacts?  In trying to find the best organization that could assist our community with its historic preservation, I was directed to Dr. McGuire Gibson at the Orient Institute of Chicago.  He provided me with a number of suggestions, among them: that Assyrians internationally should contact their respective Customs Department.  According to Dr. Gibson, a UNESCO treaty was signed in the early 1970's against the purchase of any illegally obtained archeological find.  This law, however, is rarely enforced unless one draws attention to the matter, making it vital that we contact our respective Customs Department when we hear of such matters, and demand that this law be enforced.   Other contacts that were provided include Scotland Yard, INTERPOL, an international police organization based in Paris, and IFAR - International Foundation for Art Recovery, based in New York City.

Let me say that I realize that a heavy burden has been placed on the Assyrian community outside Iraq - we feel obligated to aid those still in our homeland, maintain our cultural identity outside, be model examples of our people, and instill our traditions, language, and national pride in our children.  At times it may feel like our efforts are pointless - a drop in the bucket, if you will. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any method of measuring how successful we have been at conducting all of the above.  I
suppose if one were to be taken, we would score pretty well and maybe that would be our reward or incentive.  Until then, we must convince ourselves to the best of our abilities that we are making a difference - this I honestly believe.  We Assyrians are in a unique situation - because of our size, we have always had to depend on ourselves.  In a way, this as proven to be our
own reward - any achievements we have ever made we can say that we did ourselves.  This independence, in both cultural achievements and national survival, is something we have always taken great pride in.  These ancient archeological sites and artifacts are evidence of this pride;  bkhalit Allah, one day the world will come to Bet-Nahrain to view these achievements in their native beauty.

Elki Issa


(ZNSM:  Beirut)  Last week for the first time in seven years, the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir, met with the former Prime minister of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, in Paris.  His Excellency also met the French president, Jacques Chirac and inaugurated a Maronite Church in Marselles, France.

Assyrian Universal Alliance
Assyriska Demokratiska Rörelsen
English       Modern Assyrian

                                                   Barber               ga/ra/a or ga/zo/za     [M]

                                                   Broker                     sap/sa/ra             [M]

                           F = Feminine    M = Masculine    P = Plural


BC (2250)
The first king of a united Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia) to become a living god (deification) was Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargon of Akkad.  Deified kings claimed to be sons or brothers of major gods.

Sargon of Akkad:  2334-2279 BC    United southern and northern Bet-Nahrain, established Akkadian rule
Rimush                    2278-2270 BC    Son of Sargon, killed in palace revolt
Manishtushu         2269-2255 BC    Rimush's elder brother, twins, killed in palace revolt
Naram-Sin               2254-2218 BC    Son of Manishtushu
Gods, Demons & Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia, Black & Green

AD (1258)
Hulaku Khan, the Mongolian ruler of China and Persia, captures Baghdad and puts the last Abbasid Caliph to death.  Hulaku's wife, Duquz Khatum, was Christian and so Hulaku became tolerant of Christians.  At this time the Assyrian Church comprised of over seventy dioceses in Asia.

The Death of a Nation, Yohannan



William Daniel
I am cold,
   Lying on a lawn,
      My back is bare.

Now a fold,
   Of late dawn,
      With mother's care;

Brushes over me,
   Cautious like a fawn.
      Whispers in my ear;

"O here is SHE,
   So lost and forlorn,
      Poor little dear."

The breeze like a fold
   Wraps me all around
      In gentle brace.

Now I am less cold,
   But I make no sound,
      To disturb the grace

Of the minor key
   Of music of kisses
      Of featherly feel.

But the rest of poor me
   Ardently misses
      The delicious meal.

In answer to my wish
   That nursing care
      I feel it grope and seek;

Then slipping like a fish
   B'neath my underwear
      To fondle my right cheek.

Rolling and squeezing
   Playfully biting
      My willing muskmelon;

Featherly teasing,
   O how I am liking
      All that's being done.

The touch so nimble,
   So deeply knowing,
      O! Master of lore;

Feel my cheek tremble,
   Hear myself moaning,
      Feel asking for more.

Thrills like million darts
   All over they fly
       Kisses for ointment.

In various parts,
   Of my burning thigh.
      Delicious contentment.

The caress then serves
   The bowl of my knee,
      Where it lingers,

"Give her what deserves,
   Little darling SHE,"
       Is what say the fingers.

Lo!  The eager toes,
   The sensitive sole,
      One by one in turn;

Under pulls and blows,
   Now they stretch, now they roll,
      O tongue, O lips, how they burn.

And the voice seemed to say:
   "I'll visit you again,
      I've traveled only,

One third of the way."
   As to when, I refrain
      To say, "O...when you're lonely."

Her very darling self.
You want her to come some day,
To travel the rest of the way?

Tapestry, William Daniel

In Memory of William Daniel who left us immortally yearning the truth, a week before Christmas Day, 1988.


 December 24, 1988:  William Daniel, Assyrian composer, poet, linguist, author of "katineey Gabara", and a tireless teacher of Assyrian language is buried in San Jose, California.

On Saturday, 20 December, the 40-member Nineveh Choir under the direction of Maestro Nebu Issabey delivered a stunning performance at the San Jose State University Concert Hall.  The program included the solo performances of the "Assyrian National Anthem" by Emil Malik and William Daniel's "Nineveh" by Nancy Isaac.  The piano-accompanist was Nineveh Issabey-Simons.  Two Christmas Carols, "O'Come All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night" provided a perfect holiday setting for the two majestic pieces delivered shortly-after .  Dr. Freydoun Atouraya's "Ya Neshra d'Tkhoomeh" for mixed voices and "Lacrymosa (Requiem in C Minor)" left the audience in awe and begging for repeat performance.   Nebu Issabey's own "Hail to Gilgamish" from the Third Act of his "Gilgamish Opera" concluded the program.

Nebu's style of composition and his nationalistic pride were well represented in these choral compositions.  His complex music is usually easy to hear but difficult to follow.  The mixture of high and low voices chasing one another in precise intervals evoked the contrasting images of blissfullness and Nostalgia.  Unaccompanied by the chorus, Emil Malik's voice transformed the delightfully simple Armenian melody of "Ya Neshra'd Tkhumee" into a profoundly sophisticated movement.  Issabey had succeeded in capturing the Assyrian martyr's dream of a New Assyria from his Russian prison in 1925.

"Lacrymosa" was dedicated in the memory of the late Jon Toma, Assyrian violinist and painter who passed on earlier this year.  The unbroken Latin phrases transitioning into and out of a single theme of death were masterfully composed.  The alternating choral sections between the tenors and the rest of the choir reflected the Maestro's new experiments with his professionally orchestrated choir members.  The San Jose State performance was the result of eight months of weekly rehearsals at the William Daniel Hall of the Assyrian American Association of San Jose.  The Nineveh Choir's performance on Saturday was a an exceptional holiday treat.  Issabey's choral music with its diverse forms and expressions deserves greater attention and study.


                                                       Encanto Productions, Austin, Texas
                                            San Jose, California

This Week's Reporters:

                            Banipal Babilla                       San Jose, California                   Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
                            Rita Pirayou                            San Jose, California                   This Week in History

Thank You For Referring ZENDA to a Friend:

                           Sam Kosa                                 San Diego, California

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