Vol IV, Issue 19
|The Lighthouse||As Christians Vanish From Their Cradle|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Assyrian Civilian Killed in Northern Iraq|
|Surfs Up||"Why is the AAA of San Jose against it now?"|
|Surfers Corner||A Review of Darbo and Hujada Magazines|
|Calendar of Events||Events & Gatherings|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Dani Danial's Assyrian Page
Assyrian Progressive Nationalist Party
Vov Alep Assyrian Products (Revised)
The Last Day of the Assyrian Levies
|Pump up the Volume||Defect & Junk|
|Back to the Future||Stele of Vultures and the Patriarch's Petition|
|This Week in History||Mar Eshai Shimmun's Visit to America|
Eighty years ago, on the morning of July 29, 1918, the Great Exodus of Assyrians from Urmia, Iran onto the plains of Bet-Nahrain began with the wailing of the women and the incessant screams of their bewildered children. For the Assyrians of Urmia and Hakkari the events following this tragedy left permanent marks of enmity toward their Moslem neighbors as never before. On that hot Wednesday morning, the Christians of Urmia began their ill-fated passage of hundreds of miles, on foot facing an uncertain future- a journey that some believe continues to this day. No amount of scholarly analysis or renewal of good-faith attitude between the Moslems and the indigenous populations of Urmia and Hakkari may bring back the lives of hundreds of thousands of Assyrian men, women, and children that perished in a short time. They moved from one harsh mountain route to another, while the Moslem snipers following from behind, mercilessly targeted them as a hunter pursues his game. The elderly and the children succumbed to the combined strain of hunger, disease and cold first, then the women, and finally the men.
We must examine such tragic episodes not as a reminder of a historical animosity between a people burning with religious-fervent and their Assyrian neighbors. Rather, we must take heed of its lessons in preparing for a future tragedy, perhaps even another exodus. When we look down at the entire history of the Assyrian nation, it is clear that the journey of tears in 1918 was indeed an extension of a more immense course of travel. It began 2530 years earlier when the last Ninevite stone column tumbled to the ground in the hallways of King Ashurbanipal's palace. Today, hundreds of Assyrian churches and civic clubs in the West are built at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, and yet the Great Exodus continues- as it shall until the Assyrians reinforce the first stone column of their collective conscience into the foundation of the city where history's longest journey into the dark abyss of injustice was set in motion.
AS CHRISTIANS VANISH FROM THEIR CRADLE
Reprinted with Permission from THE ECONOMIST Magazine, 18 July 1998
At the tomb of Saint Thecla in Ma'alula in Syria, Christians leave symbolic reminders of the blessings they pray for from the woman who brought Christianity to the area 17 centuries ago. Murmuring in their native Aramaic, the language Jesus is said to have spoken, they deposit glass eyes or the crutches they hope will no longer need. But the tokens most often left are cardboard cutouts of the babies they long for.
For years now the Christians of Ma'alula have had fewer children than their Muslim compatriots. They are also more prone to emigrate. Already several mosques have sprung up in the once purely Christian town. All over the Fertile Crescent, where Christianity first began, the same story repeats itself. In the Syrian Orthodox monastery of Mar Mitta, in northern Iraq, which once housed 7,000 monks, only two remain. Madaba, a former Christian stronghold in Jordan, is now half Muslim. Even in Lebanon, once the only country in the Middle East with more Christians than Muslims, abandoned villages bear witness to a precipitous exodus.
All the countries of the region have Christian minorities. The
numbers are unreliable but Christians are thought, very roughly,
to make up 2-4 % of the populations of Jordan, the West Bank and
Gaza, and Iraq; 10% of Syria; and 30-40 % of Lebanon. East Jerusalem,
nearly 50% Christian in 1948, is now less
(St. Thecla Monastery in Ma'alula)
than 5%. Since 1967, the proportion of Jordanians professing Christianity has fallen by half. And, by one Iraqi clergyman's reckoning, the number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 750,000 in 1990 to 500,000 today- even as the Muslim population has grown rapidly.
Outsiders often blame the decline on persecution by the Muslim majority. America's Congress is currently deliberating a law to impose sanctions on countries that mistreat their religious minorities, with the Middle East as one of the intended targets. Israeli officials recently claimed that the Palestinian Authority systematically discriminated against its Christian population. And the Lebanese government's neglect of displaced Christians has provoked much criticism.
But, on the whole, governments in the region treat Christians remarkably well. Even as the population dwindles, churches are thriving, with congregations spilling out on the streets. No one feels the need to hide his faith. In the Palestinian, Jordanian and Lebanese parliaments, Christians occupy a disproportionate share of the seats. A few ministers or senior officials in all the regimes of the Fertile Crescent are Christian: witness Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy minister, and Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian Authority's education minister.
Although a few laws do draw a distinction between Christians and Muslims, they often do so in the Christians' favour. In Iraq, for example, only Christians may sell alcohol, a lucrative trade in these trying times. In Lebanon, half the jobs in the cabinet and the senior civil service are reserved for Christians. Although Christians gripe about Muslim family laws, which force outsiders to convert if they wish to marry a Muslim, they too enjoy the right to apply their own family laws within their communities.
Discrimination tends to be low-level, reflecting public prejudices, rather than an orchestrated policy. Israeli claims of Palestinian persecution rest on the harassment of a few Muslim converts to Christianity by minor officials. In northern Iraq, priests complain about overzealous bureaucrats who order the building of mosques in Christian villages. And in Syria, curious peasants ride in to take a look at the Christians in the Bab Touma part of Damascus (where St. Paul was smuggled out in a basket).
Such annoyances can hardly explain the haemorrhage of Christians from the Fertile Crescent. The issue is demographic. Since colonial times, when French and British administrators gave preference to minorities in the civil service and the army, Christians have been moving from the countryside to the cities. Church schools provide better education, especially for girls, than state schools. Urbanisation and education have, together, led to a decline in the birth rate.
Even in those places where the Christian population is growing in absolute terms, it is shrinking in relation to the Muslims around it. To compound the problem, Christians find it easier to emigrate. Their relative wealth puts air fares and fees within reach, and their professional qualifications help them obtain visas. Their long history of emigration has left many with relations abroad who can press their applications.
Christian leaders are desperate to preserve their congregations. In a recent tract, the pope urged Lebanon's Catholics not to give in to the temptation to seek a better life in another country. On this matter, at least, the 20 or so different Christian denominations in the area can agree. They have held two ecumenical conference this year, in Cyprus and Baghdad, to search for ways to staunch the flow. But for all the priestly exhortations, ordinary Christians say they cannot afford to stay. While expressing regret at Christianity's demise, they nonetheless insist they would leap at any opportunity to leave.
At Mar Mitta, Father Adda, starting out over the empty monastery
courtyard, speaks with pride of the burgeoning Syrian Orthodox
dioceses in America, Europe and Australia. One day, he hopes,
the situation in Iraq will have improved enough to lure his flock
back from Detroit and Sydney. By then, there may be nothing to
For an online journey to Ma'alula CLICK
St. Thecla's Convent photo courtesy of St. Tekla Home Page.
The Economist, 111 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019-2211.
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
ASSYRIAN DRIVER KILLED IN NORTHERN IRAQ
(ZNDA: San Jose) According to a press release of the Assyrian Patriotic Nationalist Party, on 16 July 1998 at 7:30 PM, near the village of Ormallaha in northern Iraq, Tawer Goriel, a civilian car driver was killed by Kurdish insurgents. The shots that ended Mr. Goriel's life were fired at his neck; his wife, however, was not injured in this incident. Witnesses at the scene state that the shooting was conducted by the guerilla fighters from the Kurdistan Labor Party. Tawer Goriel was from Anet Noony village (Kani Massi) in Barwari Balah- on his way to Dohok. His funeral was held last weekend.
"Subject: MOTWA is accepted by the Assyrians of Greater Bay area, and rejected by a social organization...If anybody takes time to read the MOTWA's bylaw, would find nothing against any organization. If IDEA of having MOTWA started by the AAA of San Jose, then why is the Assyrian American Association of San Jose against it now?? Note the following paragraph from the MOTWA's bylaws, Article 7, OTHER ISSUES, Section 1- INDEPENDENCE: The COUNCIL shall operate and act as an INDEPENDENT concern with no affiliation with any Assyrian or non-Assyrian social, religious or political organization."
1- The key here is INDEPENDENCE; if AAA started the idea, what
other option did they have in mind?
2- This is a MOTWA and not a social club; if one does not know the difference, then I should be sorry for this nation.
3- Article 5, Section 8 which called for the Assyrian church representatives was removed from the bylaws per our priests and a majority of the votes present (an example of democracy, not by creating havoc).
4- An audience member put it beautifully: "YOU CAME HERE ANGRY AT SOMEONE or SOMETHING, but YOU LEFT HERE LEAVING YOUR NATION." This was an example of how an Assyrian organization puts its own personal interest above that of our NATION.
5- If you had taken the time and read the MOTWA's bylaw again, specifically the agenda of the meeting on page 1, you would see that there is no item for an open discussion and argument of who did what first or when. People were asked to present their ideas and/or questions.
6- The bylaw of MOTWA were written and adopted in the presence of the Assyrians assembled.
7- The task of the organizing committee which prepared the by-laws is finished. Per Article 6-F it is now time to elect the Election Committee.
8- Candidates should submit their application to the EC.
What is it that stops participation? Is it the personal interest of the individuals, that of their organizations, or the indifference of the Assyrians who have seen the first two factors over and over? If we believe in a democratically-elected Assyrian Motwa then we should step forward and by our participation make things right- not by alienation.
San Jose, California
A REVIEW OF DARBO AND HUJADA MAGAZINES
The mouthpiece of The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) is
a bimonthly magazine, published in Sweden and serves mostly, as
its sister magazine Hujada, our Assyrian (mostly Syrian) people
from Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Darbo is published mostly in
Arabic, as well as in Assyrian (Turoyo),
Swedish, English and German. The latest May/June issue of Darbo, number 30, Year 16 coincided with the 83rd anniversary of "Shato do Saefo"(Year of the Sword) in which the barbaric killing of over 500,000 Assyrians took place in 1915 at the hands of the criminal Ottoman Turks and their Kurdish
allies. Also on 15 of July was the 15th anniversary for the establishment of Darbo as well as the 41st anniversary for the establishment of ADO. "Happy Birthday Dear ADO and Darbo!".
Also covered, were the first official talks between ADO and Armenian
government officials which took place on 5 May, 1998 at the official
guest house of the Federal Republic of Germany near Bonn. The
meeting was attended by the Armenian Ambassador to Germany and
the Special Commissioner for European Affairs in the Armenian
Foreign Ministry and a delegation from ADO led by Mr. Issa Hanna,
President of ADO, European Branch. The Armenian Foreign Minster
was unable to attend due to his heavy schedule, however, a letter
was read to the Assyrian delegation in which he extended an
invitation for an ADO delegation to meet him in Yerevan, Armenia. The meeting was concluded with a wide range proposal for establishing a close cooperation between the Assyrian and Armenian organizations in Diaspora as well as with the Republic of Armenia. An agreement was made to continue the talks on regular basis.
Also a joint delegation from ADO and Swedish-Assyrian Friendship
Committee met with the Swedish Foreign Minister on 22 April, 1998
and discussed with her the issues that our Assyrian people face
in Diaspora as well as in their homeland in Mesopotamia, especially
in South East Turkey. The Foreign
Minster promised that Sweden would present the problems our Assyrian people are facing at the European Parliament as well as at the UN.
The issue also dedicated several pages to cover the historic conference
last May in Lebanon of the "Syrian Cultural Front" (SCF) under
the banner of "Assyrianism: Civilization, Language, and National
Identity". The meeting was blessed by the Patriarchs of all the
five Assyrian churches
(Maronite, Syrian Catholic and Orthodox, Chaldean, and Church of the East). Dr. Emad Shamoun, President of SCF, promised the audience that SCF would work towards the unity of the Assyrian nation. Dr. Shamoun used interchangeably the terms "Syrian-Assyrian, Assyrian, Syrian, Syrian-Chaldo-Assyrian, Chaldo-Assyrian" in his speeches in reference to the religious as well as the ethnic name that our people refer to themselves with.
Dr. Muhammed al-Bender continued his series of thought-provoking articles on the issues that face the Assyrian nation with a new article entitled "The Assyrians and Islamic Fundamentalism in Northern Iraq". (In the March/April issue Dr. al-Bender published another article entitled "About the Question of Self Construction of the Assyrian National Consciousness.."
Aprim Shapera's article discussed "The Assyrian National Activity between the Oppression of Place and the Injustice of Time!" as well as another article by Mr. Abed Alahad Mosa Jallo which discussed in his Part 1 "The Nationalistic and Revolutionary Movements of the Assyrian Nation (Aramaic- Chaldean- Syrian- Maronite)" from early ninth century onward!
The Amir of the Yezedis, Prince Anwer al-Awmawei is continuing his articles in explaining the true religion of the Yezedis with references to the Yezedis' Assyrian origin.
Finally, an appeal to all Assyrians for the establishment of "Beth Nahrain" Satellite channel led by Mouris Lahdo from Sweden, Nahro Beth-Kinne from Belgium, and Samir Afram from Germany.
To subscribe to Darbo, send $20 to:
("Unity" is pronounced as "Khoyada" in Eastern Syriac and "Hoyodo" in Western)
Hujada is a monthly magazine, published in Sweden in 5 languages (Syriac, Arabic, Swedish, English, and German). The latest issue is a combined July/August.
The Assyrian section (both in Eastern and Western Syriac) covered a commentary entitled "Martyrdom in Every Assyrian House" which commemorated the 83rd anniversary of the massacre of 500,000 of our Assyrian people in 1915. Also, were printed several poems (in Turoyo), an article about our monasteries in Turkey, in addition to local news about our Assyrian community in Sweden.
The Arabic section contained several articles covering the 1915
massacres and what followed by Ninib
Abdulahad Lahdo, "Simele: Yesterday and Today" by William Odisho. An interview with Aprim Shapira. An article by Yelda Khosaba "One Flag for One Nation" in which he discussed the efforts by some Assyrian organizations to redefine the colors of our national flag.
Hujada also interviewed Mar Nersai De Baz, Bishop of Lebanon,
Syria, and Europe for the Assyrian Church of the East in which
he covered the blessed efforts by our churches in bringing our
people together. Mar Nersai singled out the national revival that's
undergoing today inside the Maronite
church, under the leadership of Mar Nasir Allah Safeer, with its latest decision in returning to the usage of Syriac as the official liturgical language of the church. Mar Nersai was also asked about the confusing
different names that our people refer to themselves. Mar Nersai stated that while the Church of the East recognizes itself as an Assyrian, he saw no problem with other churches using different names for the same people. He also stated that the discussion undergoing between our different churches has not made the name an issue to differ on ".. not at this time anyway!"
Finally, Aprim Shapira reviewed the most talked about book among Assyrians in Europe, that of Salim Matter's "The Injured Self.. Identity Problems in Iraq and the Eastern Arab World" which discusses in details the Assyrian Question in Iraq and Syria among others.
The English section contained a reprint of "One Nation-Two Names: The Chaldean/Assyrian Dilemma" by Ghassan Hanna, and a sarcastic article by Robert Ewan about "The Fall of the Assyrian Empire" in which he ridicules the existence of the numerous Assyrian political parties that differ with each other on minor issues. The article is written in an interview format and discussions between Mr. A from the "Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Nineveh". Mr. B from the "Inter Continental Assyrian Defense Force". Mr. C from the "Assyrian Phalanx Party", and Mr. D from the "Assyrian National Patriotic Democratic Federal Party"!!
To subscribe to Hujada, send $50 to:
You can also visit their web site: http://www.algonet.se/~hujada
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
NEAR EASTERN CYLINDER SEALS
"A Seal Upon Thine Heart"
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Assyrian Stars Athletes of San Jose
CAREER PLANNING DAY
All High School & College Students Welcome
ASSYRIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Sponsored by the Assyrian American National Federation
22ND WORLD CONGRESS OF THE ASSYRIAN UNIVERSAL ALLIANCE
For more information see ZENDA: JUNE 8: SURFERS CORNER
NUZI & THE HURRIANS: FRAGMENTS OF A FORGOTTEN PAST
Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C. Hurrians settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the mid-second millennium B.C. The Pharaohs of Egypt sought marriage alliances with them and the Hittites feared them. More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931
Harvard University's Semitic Museum
ASSYRIAN SURFING POSTS
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
Dani Danial's Assyrian Page
Assyrian Progressive Nationalist Party
Vov Alep Assyrian Products (Revised)
The Last Day of the Assyrian Levies
||Used Junk: Peekhareh mooplekheh|
Cycles & Observances of the Eastern Assyrian Liturgical Calendars
AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MOC = Malankara Orthodox Church
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The Stele of Vultures depicts the soldiers of Lagash, a city in southern Bet-Nahrain in rows nine men wide and six men deep. The monument was erected by a ruler of Lagash to commemorate his victory over the city-state of Umma, also in southern Bet-Nahrain. In the scene vultures carry off the severed heads of fallen warriors.
Sumer: Cities of Eden, Time-Life Books
Mar Eshai Shimmun, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, sends a petition to the Permanent Mandates Commission in which he refers to the recommendation of the Mosul Commission favoring local autonomy for the Assyrians.
The Nestorians & Their Muslim Neighbors, Joseph
The British intention was, of course, to support the nation in its own district, where they might have been able to establish a claim for political support after the war, but this plan also went awry. The main portion of the fighting force of the nation was used by its commander in an expedition to the South, there to get into touch with the British, and the Turks- who were now led by one of the few Ottoman generals who showed real military capacity during the war- saw their opportunity and attacked. The defenses of Urmia were carried, and the whole people, instead of maintaining their position as an allied outpost in the North, suddenly poured southwards, resolved to throw themselves on British protection. It was a "trek" of from seventy to eighty thousand people, without any form of discipline or organization, over some five hundred miles of hostile county. Their enemies, tribal and military, were on their track, prepared to show no mercy either to man or woman.
What the losses were is not known, for the reason that only an approximate estimate of the number that started is available, but it is believed that half of those who started either perished on the way or fell into the hands of their enemies- and the lot of those who died was the lighter of the two. Many, however, came through in safety, and were received by the British authorities, and lodged in one great refugee camp at Baqubah near Baghdad, a modern "City of Refuge."
The Assyrians & Their Neighbors, Rev. W.A. Wigram, 1929
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
July 29, 1940: Mar Eshai Shimmun, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, visits the United States as a guest of the Assyrian American National Federation. His Holiness was the first Assyrian patriarch to have visited America and was greeted by thousands of Assyrians in Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
Grace Yohannan of Florida was recently named Teacher of the Month at Apopka High School after having been on the faculty for 7 months. She was also nominated to represent her school at the Disney Teacherific Awards on 15 August in Orlando, Florida. Mrs. Yohannan was chosen from 20 Central Florida finalists - out of more than 300 educators - to receive a special grant by the State of Florida toward a Masters Degree in Special Education. Ms. Yohannan's first Masters Degree was awarded in English Studies. Our reader writes: "I consider these honors to be not mine but also of the Assyrian people, as I tell our story everywhere I go."
Mrs. Yohannan was born in New Jersey to John and Ruby Yohannan. Her grandmother and matriarch of the family was Hannah Yohannan of Urmia, Iran- the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and relative of Mar Yohannan. Her grandparents and uncle were among the thousands of Assyrians who escaped the massacres during the First World War- her grandmother single-handedly leading a number of youngsters to safety.
When the Yohannan family reached the shores of the United States in November 1921, the quota for Assyrians was closed, but because of Mrs. Yohannan's grandmother's education, the family was admitted. Her father was born in January 1922 in a cold water flat in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Mrs. Yohannan's parents met when her father was employed as a bus driver for the Public Service Coordinated Transport. Both her uncles, Ephraim and James, were teachers and educators.
Ms. Yohannan studied at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, New Jersey - a Presbyterian college and received her B.A. in English within three years. She then married and taught for several years before having her children, Douglas and Jennifer. She earned her M.A. in English from Montclair State University and then worked as a photojournalist. Her editorials were published in the Christian Science Monitor, one of which was awarded the 1979 American Legion National Editorial Award. Mrs. Yohannan also taught at local community colleges. While her children still in school she returned to teaching English. Tired of the cold, relentless New Jersey winters she left her native birthplace and fulfilled a lifetime dream by moving to sunny Florida where she currently resides.
Mrs. Yohannan has since worked as an editorial assistant and a
research analyst, traveling throughout
Eastern Europe and the British Isles, as well as the Western U.S. Her uncles, Ephraim and Jim, currently live in Turlock, California. She has taught at Southern College and became head of its English department before returning to public school teaching. Grace has also worked as an English tutor and an assistant to a wealthy Saudi Arabian businessman and his family. She comments that she enjoys meeting this family, especially since "his mother reminds me so much of my grandmother- in appearance and mannerisms."
Mrs. Yohannan's son, Douglas, received his M.A. from Georgetown University and is being considered for a position in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force. Her daughter, Jennifer, graduated from Skidmore College and will be living in Germany for three years as she follows her husband now in the Army. "The greatest influences in my life have been my grandmother and my parents. I owe them everything I am and dedicate my work to the glory of God," writes Mrs. Yohannan. She also writes that, "I am grateful to Zenda for putting me in touch with other Assyrians and am very proud of my heritage." Mrs. Grace Yohannan, a third-generation Assyrian living in the United States, is a shining example of the devotion Assyrian have demonstrated through the centuries in furthering the education of the masses.
WELCOME TO ZENDA
This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order
|Albert Gabrial||Turlock, California||Assyrian Surfing Posts|
|Vivian Hermiz||Modesto, California||Good Morning Bet-Nahrain|
P.O. Box 20278 San Jose, California 95160 U.S.A.
Voice: (408) 885-9394 Ext. 5#
Fax: (408) 885-9894
The Directory of ZENDA News Sources
ZNAA (Assyrian Academic Society-Chicago)
ZNAD (Assyrian Democratic Organization)
ZNAF (Agence France-Presse)
ZNAH (Al-Ahram Newspaper, London)
ZNAL (Al-Hayat, London)
ZNAI (Assyrian International News Agency)
ZNAK (American Kurdish
ZNAM (Archeology Magazine)
ZNAP (Associated Press International)
ZNBN (Bet-Nahrain Inc/ KBSV-TV "AssyriaVision")
ZNIF (Iraq Foundation)
ZNDA (Zenda: firstname.lastname@example.org)
ZNIN (Iraqi National Congress)
ZNLT (Los Angeles Times)
ZNMN (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNMW (Mideast Newswire)
ZNNQ (Nabu Quarterly)
ZNNV (Nineveh Magazine)
ZNNY: New York Times
ZNQA (Qala Atouraya- Moscow)
ZNSH (Shotapouta Newsletter)
ZNSJ (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNSM (Shufimafi Lebanese News)
ZNSO (Syrian Orthodox News "SOCNews")
ZNTM (Time Magazine)
ZNUP (United Press International)
ZNUS (US News & World Report)