Volume V Issue 15
Khzeeran 7, 6749 June 7, 1999
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|The Lighthouse||Congress of the Catholics of Middle East in Lebanon|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Fides Interview with His Holiness Mar Raphael I Bidawid
Clinton's Letter to Congress, Assyrians Noted
|News Digest||Zowaa Declaration on the Census 2000 Issue
Assyrian Academic Society on the Census 2000 Issue
|Surfs Up||"Each should draw on the strength of the other partner"|
|Surfers Corner||What is Wrong with the Label: "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac"
Competition Means Respect
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Brief History of Assyrians
Ishtar Quarterly Cultural Magazine
Assyrian Art Replicas
|Pump up the Volume||Compromise & Disagreement|
|Back to the Future||Food for the Deceased & Hormozd Rassam|
|Literatus||The First Corner|
|This Week in History||The Tiglath-Pileser Society|
|Bravo||Hannibal Alkhas' "Assyrians"|
|Calendar of Events||Dance Parties in San Jose & Thomastown
Fifth Annual Graduation Assembly
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
The general mood of the Assyrian activists during last week's meetings of the 1999 Assyrian State Convention of California was grim. They were disgusted with the decision of the U.S. Census Bureau to recognize the term "Chaldean" as an ethnic identity. On the other hand, any perfunctory statement or decision would have offered an opportunity for the "Detroit Separatists" to begin their phased but rapid withdrawal from the "Assyrian" census category.
Despite some groups and individuals' capitulation of their positions in deference to the Census Bureau's hasty decision, ZENDA continues to object to the creation of a new category from three separate national, religious, and linguistic identities.
Now that the Census Bureau has made its final decision ZENDA believes that our attention, for both Chaldean and non-Chaldean Assyrians, must turn to an even more important issue at hand- the unity of the Assyrian people regardless of their religious or cultural background. While the Arab-Chaldeans savor their provisional victory in Detroit, the Assyrian groups elsewhere must continue their struggle for the unity of their nation in Diaspora.
Today, the creation of a separate "Chaldean" category remains a possibility that must be avoided at all cost. The outcome of a separate "Chaldean" ethnic identity will surely bring irreparable change to the basic structure of the Chaldean Catholic Church as its "Assyrian-Chaldean" members may demand a separate "Assyrian Catholic" affiliation to differentiate from the Arab-Chaldean constituency. Similar claims were heard several times during the meetings of last week's convention. Such a separation is the ultimate goal of the "Arab" constituency within the Chaldean Catholic Church- simply another attempt to arabise the Assyrian-Chaldean identity in Diaspora. To accept the modification of the 1990 "Assyrian" category to "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac" is quite unbearable; however, the alternative is simply unacceptable.
CONGRESS OF CATHOLICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST IN LEBANON
The international agency 'Fides' reported that from May 9-20, the most important Christian gathering in the East since the time of the IV Council of Constantinople (869-870), took place in the convent of the Anthonine Sisters in Fatka, Lebanon. This first ever Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East, which included 210 participants, was attended by Maronites, Melkites, Chaldeans, Latins, Copts, Armenians and Syrians. The principal theme for reflection was the future of Eastern Christianity on the threshold of the third millennium, and the mission of the Church in the Middle East. According to Cardinal Jan Schotte, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, the Congress was both "a continuation of the Synod for Asia," held at the Vatican during April and May, 1998, as well as "a broadening of the special Synod for Lebanon," held at the end of 1995 and followed by John Paul II's visit to Beirut two years later.
Youssef Habbi, Patriarchal Vicar of the Chaldeans, said that the event was a "rare opportunity to become better acquainted with the Christian situation in neighboring countries." In fact, most of the Bishops had never met before; for some, it was a reunion after studying in Rome together forty years ago! Two Bishops from each country and of different rites spoke in turn of the past and the present situation of the local Churches throughout the area -- from Morocco to Iran. The difficulties which emerged were virtually the same in all the countries: decreasing numbers, emigration, ecumenism and the challenge to dialogue with Islam, the dominant religion.
The 7 Patriarchs, 104 Bishops, 27 Superiors General, 8 presidents of Episcopal Conferences, and other Congress participants, had not come together to sign Christianity's death warrant in the region, as Chaldean Bishop Ramzi Garmou stressed. "We, Catholics, must make a clear distinction between hope founded on the Gospel and a utopian dream. It is a matter of being realistic without being pessimistic." Regardless of the situation, the objective of the Church in Iran is to be "a seed of holiness," Bishop Garmou said. Christian Exodus According to the reports given, it is not only the absence of religious freedom in some countries which drives Christians to emigrate. Although they are not the victims of occult plots for expulsion, Christians are the indirect victims of situations of instability, insecurity and war as, for example, the revolutionary Intifada Movement in Palestine, the Gulf War in Iraq and Iran, the Algerian crisis, and the various wars in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990. Maronite Bishop Bechara Rahi of Biblos said that 1.37 million Lebanese had left the country since 1975; of these, 822,00 or 60% were Christians. However, difficult situations have undoubtedly drawn Christians together.
Armenian Bishop Marayati of Aleppo in Syria said that the city's six Catholic Bishops (Greek, Melkite, Syrian, Maronite, Armenian and Chaldean) hold weekly meetings, and the 11 Catholic and Orthodox Bishops meet once a month. In Iraq, seminaries are open to Assyrian, as well as Syrian and Chaldean, students for the priesthood. During the meeting, the participants discussed the possibility of exchanging priests among the different Catholic Churches; for example, sending Lebanese Maronite monks from Kaslik to Chaldean communities in Iraq. When he received a delegation of participants of the Congress, Greek Orthodox Bishop Spyridon Khoury of Zahle (Lebanon) said he hoped there would soon be a similar meeting of all the Christian Bishops of the region. Greek Catholic Bishop Andre Haddad of the same city said this would not be out of the question; "our problems are the same, our destiny is the same." Endorsing the desire for ecumenical unity voiced earlier by the seven Catholic Patriarchs, Bishop Hadda concluded: "Christians will either be united in the East, or they will cease to be."
24 May 1999
ZENIT is an International News Agency based in Rome. It provides objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media.
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
"FIDES" INTERVIEW WITH MAR RAPHAEL I BIDAWID
(ZNZT: Rome) Despite the ongoing bombings and embargo, the faithful in Iraq hold out hope that Pope John Paul II will be able to visit this year. Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid of of the Chaldean Catholic Church, spiritual leader of the majority of Iraqi Christians, was received by the Pope on May 14. Christians in Iraq constitute 5% of a population of 20 million; of the total number of Christians, 80% are Catholics of the Chaldean rite. Raphael I was interviewed on the state of affairs in Iraq by the Vatican's "Fides" Agency.
What is the situation in Iraq?
Mar Raphael I: The people, despite everything, are resisting. The tragedy is that the USA and Great Britain bomb every day, hitting not only military targets. In Kosovo they call them "mistakes", but here they are normal daily routine. But I think that when someone is killed it is always a mistake. These are crimes against a civilian population and they kill about twenty people every day.
You mentioned the war in Kosovo. Do the two conflicts have anything in common?
Mar Raphael I: If we compare our situation with that in Kosovo we find many similarities, and in fact the Iraqi people, although mostly Muslims, feel they are in the same trench as the people of the Yugoslav Republic. What has been happening there for two months now has been happening here for nine years, and the same people are dropping the bombs. It seems to me that in both cases the U.S. and Great Britain show they know nothing about the people they are attacking. They undervalue the tenacity of the Iraqi people, who have resisted for nine years, and the same appears to be true of the Yugoslav people. They think that with bombs they can weaken the power of the leaders, whereas, in fact, they only increase the suffering of the people. The people prefer to support their leaders rather than end up under the slavery of America.
At what point are preparations for a Papal visit to Iraq?
Mar Raphael I: It is well known that Pope John Paul II has often voiced a desire to make a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Abraham, the common father of Jews, Christians and Muslims. For the Pope, Abraham is a figure which helps the unity of believers to overcome political divisions. On May 14th I was received by the Pope, together with a delegation composed of the Shiite Imam of Khadum mosque and the Sunni President of the council of administration of the Iraqi Islamic Bank. There was also a representative of the Iraqi ministry of religion. I renewed our invitation to the Pope, because his visit would be for us a grace from heaven. It would confirm the faith of Christians and prove the Pope's love for the whole of humanity in a country which is mainly Muslim. At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book the Qu'ran presented to him by the delegation and he kissed it as a sign of respect. The photo of that gesture has been shown repeatedly on Iraqi television and it demonstrates that the Pope is not only aware of the suffering of the Iraqi people, he has also great respect for Islam. A papal visit would be welcomed by both the people and by the authorities. After the audience I immediately sent a recommendation to the Iraqi government to make the official step of inviting the Pope to Iraq.
Will the bombing raids on Iraq ever end?
Mar Raphael I: I hope they will, but in the meantime, this July, I will go to America with the delegation received by the Pope. We accepted an invitation from Preacher Billy Graham. We will visit the lion's den and try to explain the situation of our people. We will meet a number of NGOs and religious and civil authorities. We are going not to ask for help but to explain how the people suffer because of the bombing. If they stop the bombing we will not need any help. Iraq has everything it needs, except peace.
CLINTON'S LETTER TO THE CONGRESS, ASSYRIANS NOTED
THE WHITE HOUSE: Excerpts from President Bill Clinton's letter to the House of Representatives and the Senate
Tuesday, 25 May 1999
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Consistent with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) and as part of my effort to keep the Congress fully informed, I am reporting on the status of efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). My last report, consistent with Public Law 102-1, was transmitted on March 3, 1999.
We continue to support the international community's efforts to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the oil-for-food program. Transition from phase four to phase five (authorized by UNSC Resolution 1210) was smooth. As in phase four, Iraq is again authorized to sell up to $5.2 billion worth of oil every 180 days. However, because of a drop in world oil prices, Iraq was only able to pump and sell approximately $3.1 billion worth of oil in phase four; recent increases in world prices should provide increased revenue for this phase of oil-for-food.
As of April 5, under phase five of the oil-for-food program, 340 contracts worth nearly $1 billion have been approved. As of April 5, the United States had 145 phase four and 13 phase five contracts on hold pending clarification of questions about the proposed contracts.
Three assessment panels were formed in January to look at Iraqi disarmament, the humanitarian situation in Iraq, and Iraq's obligations regarding Kuwait. The panels presented their reports to the Security Council in April. The United States supported an examination of the current situation and exploration of ways to improve humanitarian conditions, particularly with regard to vulnerable groups such as children under age five and pregnant and nursing women. The United States has expressed its support for raising the cap on Iraqi oil exports under the oil-for-food program in order to meet humanitarian needs, and for certain other proposals made by the humanitarian assessment panel.
Resolution 1210 maintains a separate oil-for-food program for northern Iraq, administered directly by the United Nations in consultation with the local population. This program, which the United States strongly supports, receives 13 to 15 percent of the funds generated under the oil-for-food program. The separate northern program was established because of the Baghdad regime's proven disregard for the humanitarian needs of the Kurdish, Assyrian, Yezedi and Turkoman minorities of northern Iraq, and its readiness to apply the most brutal forms of repression against them. In northern Iraq areas where Baghdad does not exercise control, the oil-for-food program has been able to operate relatively effectively, as documented by the humanitarian assessment panel. The Kurdish factions have set aside their differences to work together so that Resolution 1210 is implemented as efficiently as possible.
Humanitarian programs such as oil-for-food have steadily improved the life of the average Iraqi living under sanctions (who, for example, now receives a ration basket providing over 2,000 calories per day, a significant improvement in nutrition since the program began) while denying Saddam Hussein control over oil revenues. We will continue to work with the U.N. Secretariat, the Security Council, and others in the international community to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are met while denying any political or economic benefits to the Baghdad regime.
Northern Iraq: Kurdish Reconciliation
Since their ground-breaking meeting with Secretary Albright in September 1998, Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Jalal Talabani, Chairman of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have met four times to continue their work towards full reconciliation. Both parties have condemned internal fighting, pledged to refrain from violence in settling their differences, and resolved to eliminate terrorism by establishing stronger safeguards for Iraq's borders. In particular, both parties have committed themselves to deny sanctuary to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), to eliminate all PKK bases from the region and to safeguard the Turkish border. The parties believe that key decisions on Iraq's future should be made by all the Iraqi people together at an appropriate time and through a regular political process. Their work is thus meant to implement a framework of regional administration until a united, pluralistic, and democratic Iraq is achieved. A Higher Coordination Committee (HCC) made up of senior representatives from the PUK and the KDP meets regularly in northern Iraq, and officials of the State Department are in frequent contact with the parties to further the reconciliation process.
The United States is committed to ensuring that international aid continues to reach the north; that the human rights of the Kurds and northern Iraq minority groups such as the Turkomans, Assyrians, Yezedis, and others are respected; and that the no-fly zone enforced by Operation Northern Watch is observed. The United States will decide how and when to respond should Baghdad's actions pose an increased threat to Iraq's neighbors, to regional security, to vital U.S. interests, and to the Iraqi people, including those in the north.
The Human Rights Situation in Iraq
The human rights situation in Iraq continues to fall far short of international norms, in violation of Resolution 688. For over seven years, the Iraqi government has refused to allow the U.N. Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur for Iraq, Max Van der Stoel, to visit Iraq. U.N. human rights monitors have never been allowed in. Meanwhile, increasingly disturbing reports of the most serious nature continue to emanate from Iraq. For example, 2,500 political prisoners have been summarily executed without due process of law since Fall 1997, according to detailed reports Mr. Van der Stoel received. Often, the bodies are said to have been returned to the victim's families showing clear signs of torture.
In the north, outside the Kurdish-controlled areas, the government continues the forced expulsion of ethnic Kurds and Turkomans from Kirkuk and other cities. In recent months, hundreds of families have reportedly been expelled from Kirkuk. Reports from the Kurdish-controlled areas where the displaced persons are received indicate that they are forced to leave behind almost all of their personal property. Due to a shortage of housing, many are still living in temporary shelters.
The Iraqi Opposition
We are deepening our engagement with the forces of change in Iraq, helping Iraqis inside and outside Iraq to become a more effective voice for the aspirations of the people. We will work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people -- a government prepared to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its citizens.
On April 7-8, the Executive Council of the Iraqi National Congress met at Windsor, in the United Kingdom. The meeting produced three important results: it elected a seven-member interim "Presidency Committee;" it created an "outreach committee" to expand the INC's membership and build links to regional states; and it decided that a meeting of the INC National Assembly would be held no later than July 7, at a site to be determined. We applaud the Council members for this constructive, forward-looking meeting.
Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska attended the meeting as U.S. observer along with Special Coordinator for the Transition of Iraq, Frank Ricciardone, as well as other State Department officials and staff from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I believe the joint U.S. Executive-Congressional team underscores the deepening cooperation within the U.S. Government on this important issue.
The interim INC Presidency Committee met for the first time on April 10. The group reportedly established a principle of rotating leadership and discussed plans to send a delegation to the United Nations to express views on humanitarian and human rights issues.
Iraq remains a serious threat to international peace and security. I remain determined to see Iraq comply fully with all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member. I appreciate the support of the Congress for our efforts and shall continue to keep the Congress informed about this important issue.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) is a member
of the Iraqi National Congress.
ZOWAA DECLARATION ON THE CENSUS 2000 ISSUE
A Press Release of the Assyrian Democratic Movement
May 16, 1999
Incoming news from various Assyrian communities and establishments in the U.S.A reflect regretful positions and scattered efforts, carried by some regarding the upcoming U.S census. Such efforts and positions may divide our communities. The right choice here is to concentrate on urging our people who are dissipating in that society to take pride in their national identity, or those of them who have denied that national identity during the previous census due to ignorance, financial gains or commitment to the regime in Baghdad.
What astonishes us is the feverish campaign staged by those who kept silent at the time of the last census. This is occurring at a time when nationalistic awareness is on the rise, and developments are shaping to unite our sacred churches along with various positive and cohesive steps achieved by our peoples vanguards to cement our very existence and nationalistic rights in our homeland. This is an action that does not please the opposing sides who are continually striving to spread division among us, along with their exploitation of our resources there to serve their motives. In addition, recent requirements and international politics strengthened by know how and cross cultural dialogue urge the intellectuals and dedicated Assyrians to state collectively that we are children of one nation and inheritance of one civilization, which is that of Mesopotamia (Bet-Nahrain). This collective thought is in spite of numerous names which continue to be used merely because they were historical names of which we are proud. Throughout the long extension of our ancient history, previous factors also compelled those intellectuals to shift aside futile and useless arguments pertaining to names, instead they ought to be concentrating in deepening the dialogue on substance and essence reflected in the formation of our ethnic, civil, educational, and doctrinal existence.
We denounce and refuse every attempt aimed at splintering our unity, any endeavors by some aimed to register under more than one ethnic category in the upcoming census within our communities in the U.S.A. We call on everyone to choose one ethnic category, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing internal discussion among our people. Anything contrary to that will define beyond doubt the credibility of those claiming unity while striking against it. Therefore if it is not possible to reach a total agreement under prevailing circumstances, then we see that the procedure followed is the previous census in relation to our communities is acceptable until such conditions exist and enable our people there to convene a special conference on the subject where they will deliberate and decide freely and without any external influence, basing there decisions on our peoples interests. While we are proud of our dedicated establishments and communities, we are calling on them to adopt at present, at least, the principle being people of one nation with different names, but we are confident that we will surpass such formalities in the future.
Assyrian Democratic Movement
ASSYRIAN ACADEMIC SOCIETY ON THE ISSUE OF CENSUS 2000
An Official Press Release: 29 May 1999
RE: Category Label Census 2000 -- Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac
The Assyrian Academic Society's Board of Directors held a special Executive Body meeting on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 to discuss the recent decision regarding the category label of, "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac."
Before the AAS clarifies its position, what follows below is a letter (verbatim) written by John F. Long, Chief, Population Division, United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census. The letter was written on May 27, 1999. Its main objective is to shed light on a subject matter that has been the focus of misunderstanding in general. The Bureau of Census offers the following explanation:
At the request of the Chaldean community, the Census Bureau conducted research on how to classify persons in the United States who self-identify as Assyrians or Chaldeans for the purpose of the Census 2000 ancestry code list and tabulations. This process included a review of scholarly materials and documentations, extensive consultations with a diverse group of experts and visits by Census Bureau staff with people who identify as Chaldeans or Assyrians.
Based on the results of this research, which supported recognizing "Chaldean" as an ethnic classification for Census 2000 it was clear that the Census Bureau could not continue to use "Assyrian" as the sole designation for this category as was done in the 1990 decennial census. The Census Bureau again undertook extensive consultations in an effort to develop an appropriate label that would not separate, but that would reflect the combined group. The alternative would have been to create two separate codes and/or designations for Assyrians and Chaldeans.
The Census Bureau needed to make a final determination by the end of April of this year to finalize plans for coding and tabulating all Census 2000 data and informed those representatives and experts we had consulted with previously of this fact. The Census Bureau then accepted the final recommendation of these representatives to change the label from "Assyrian" to "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac." It was felt that this label would represent those persons in the United States who self-identify in the ancestry question as Assyrian, Chaldean, or Syriac. The "/" symbol is used in census publications for two reasons--1) to denote different names used by members of one ethnic group; 2) because technology limits the number of characters that can be used for a category label. An example of this is, "Spanish/Hispanic/Latino," to denote Hispanic persons who identify in different ways.
This label of "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac," is NOT intended to change the name of any ethnic group in or outside the United States and is to be used only for the purposes of the Census 2000 data tabulations and publications. We also wish to emphasize that the information on ancestry or ethnic group is based on self-identification, that is, we ask persons to report the group with which they identify and we accept the reported responses. It is important to clarify that only the label for Census 2000 data products has changed. Responses of Assyrian and Chaldean will both receive the same code in Census 2000; which remains the same as it was in the 1990 decennial census. The label is intended only for presenting data and is not intended to change the Assyrian name or the name of any Assyrian organization...
Assyrian Academic Society-Perspective
"At Century's End"
The category label of "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac" has come up against much contention and controversy. Unfortunately, members who served on the Census 2000 committee from both communities (Assyrian and Chaldean) were carelessly criticized for good intentions on their part to reach a compromise solution for an alternative category that would not invoke, nor create deeper divisions between the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac communities at large. They have worked towards signaling an openness to a new way of thinking in order to create an optimistic atmosphere that allows us to embrace the future with renewed hope, loving kindness, and compassion.
Anyone who identifies, or courageously refers to themselves as a nationalist (s) must possess a strong willingness to, first of all, face history within themselves, and then to act against any means to isolate the three groups who have shared one common history. Without the trust that positive interactions generate, people would be less reluctant to engage in the process of building a community.
Overcoming years of frustration, anguish, conflict, resentment, fragmentation, and negativity is a must from all sides--whether one identifies as an Assyrian, Chaldean, or Syriac. Otherwise, it is an exercise in futility. We must respect each other as members who identify themselves as Chaldean, or Syriacs, or Assyrians. We cannot afford to languish in apathy, nor turn a blind eye towards important issues we should face as one nation committed towards progressive activisim. A key priority is to transcend the parochialisms of the past and shape interaction to stabilize our social and cultural structures.
The AAS believes that all of the designations, "Assyrian/Chaldeans/Syriac," refer to the same people. However, no one can impose an identity on a person or a group which does not desire such identity. This is the position of the US Bureau of Census and the AAS completely understands this position and respects it.
Let the record show that the Assyrian Academic Society Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the designation of "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac." It is our belief that this decision is nurtured by hope as we work closely with civic leaders and community volunteers to collaborate on projects and workshops which seek to inform and educate all of us about the importance of being counted in the next decennial census.
The AAS looks forward to greater communication with our people especially with regards to our national identity. To this end, the AAS pledges its commitment and support.
Nadia E. Joseph
Assyrian Academic Society
"Thank you for your efforts to bringing us news about our Assyrian communities throughout a world. Your magazine is the main source for our news bulletins that is broadcasted every week on Saturday..."
"Righteous without love makes us hard and faith without love makes us fanatical. The use of census 2000 is pandoras box. Assyrians all over the world are put to a severe test. The responsible person with a strong power of compromise and democratic mentality should persevere, whereas any short-tempered person will have to think hard and be prepared at least to sit down and talk as an equal partner and not superior but humble with a clear vision. There will be no winners and losers, if we cannot achieve our ultimate objective (towards one Assyrian Nation), then all of us will be losers. To me the foundation of the Assyrian Nation is a tripod supported by the Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic and Syrian Orthodox or Jacobite Churches. It is on top of this tripod that the Assyrian pride shines.
We are all Assyrians and equal partners, each should draw on the strength of the other partner, no church can claim superiority. As our lord Jesus Christ taught us to be humble. Did he not wash the feet of his disciples! Would any one of us wash the feet of his mother, let alone strangers.
The church of the East, which belongs to (and is sometimes called) the Ancient Church of the East or the Persian Church, is usually referred to in the west as the Assyrian Church or Nestorian Church. So the names have become synonymous. Nestorious (Encyclopedia Britanica) was the bishop of Constantinople during the 5 century. He had nothing to do with the Assyrians or the Church of the East. Some of my references indicate that it is a misnomer to call our church Nestorian Church. I am proud to know that a Chaldean or Jacobite calls himself Assyrian. I am sure there are many Chaldeans and Jacobites (I know a few) who do not wish to be called Assyrians. I think we should support people like Mr. Ghassan Hanna and his colleagues in their work. I am sure they will be accused by some Chaldean people to be leaders of the Assyrian fifth column. Please let us calm down and talk to each other like civilised people and as equal partners with no dictatorship, superiority or confrontation. I am sure with our lord Jesus Christ's' Guidance we shall find the right path to follow. This is a very delicate issue and if not contained efficiently will cause a deep self-inflicted wound that will never heal, in other words we do not need outside enemies, we have plenty within to do the damage. It is not what side we take, but how we can smooth the edges and then bridge the gap, so we can have a smooth and solid link between the partners. It is not a take-over bid but a real partnership.
If our Lord Jesus Christ should come and see for himself the organised chaos we are having under his name, as we are pointing to the churches, I am sure he will be angry and do what he did in the temple of God (when he drove out all that sold and bought in the temple and overturned the table of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves and said to them 'My house shall be called the house of prayers but you have made it into a house of thieves'). What would Jesus say to us as we are at each others throat? We are not thieves nor money changers, we are, or at least some of us are devoted people, but for some reason are trying to impose our opinions on others. As a humble Assyrian I believe the three churches should show leadership and work together, again as equal partners and be the torch bearer and lead the people towards a United Assyria, in the meantime, each church should respect the faith, rites and traditions of the other churches.
Finally, if the churches fail this difficult task, then I am sure the churches will lose the respect of the majority and may end up being further divided into yet more denominations and sects. Some people may even loose faith. Do not let us repeat the nightmare which resulted in the divisions of 25 and 7 the days. An ugly event which I personally lived through. During that period some of us pleaded with our church leaders to show leadership and talk to the other side, but that was not accepted and hence the split resulting in 2 churches of the East - what a sad day that was. If we carry on the way we are going, who knows, we might have more splits in the Chaldean and the Syrian Orthodox church in order to complete the Assyrian tragedy once more again as we enter the millennium.
Some people say history repeats itself while others say people repeat history. God Bless you all."
Dr. Awshalim L Khammo
Our research indicated that Chaldean can be regarded as an ethnic designation and not solely a religious group. In addition, the Census Bureau conducted a number of meetings at the Census Bureau, as well as in Chicago and Detroit, with members of the Assyrian and Chaldean community to obtain the views of the community. Further, the Census Bureau conducted a number of conference calls with community leaders representing organizations such as the Chaldean Diocese of America, the Assyrian Democratic Organization, and the Assyrian Academic Society of Chicago to obtain the views and opinions of community leaders.
The outcome was the Census Bureau's acceptance of a proposal, from community leaders and experts whom we consulted, that the label Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac more accurately represents the ethnic make up of the Assyrian and Chaldean communities in the U.S. than retaining the label Assyrian which was used in 1990.
We appreciate your recent e-mail message and interest in Census 2000.
If you have additional questions or concerns about this issue, please don't hesitate to contact me by phone at 301/457-2403 or e-mail at MDELAPUE@CENSUS.GOV."
Manuel de la Puente, Ph.D.
Chief, Ethnic and Hispanic Statistics Branch
My trip to Detroit was a complete disappointment. People were ingrained to hate the Assyrian name so much, some "mixed" persons were calling themselves "half-Chaldean and half-Assyrian" with the same connotation as someone saying "half-Assyrian and half-Mexican". The discrepancies of the nomenclature of the Assyrian name unfortunately extends to it's language. Some people think we speak Assyrian and some think we speak Chaldean. Asked if they speak the Assyrian language, you get a resounding "NO!!, only arabic in the house". Not knowing how historical and beautiful the Syriac language is, most have become orphans of the language (yaatooym'e d leeshaanaa). In one store, I asked the price of a picture of Msheekhaa, I got a jar of Mishkhaa. The response was what the hell is Eesho Msheekhaa? I found that not even knowing what Jesus' name very sad. Now one is trying to cause division within dialects. Arabic in all it's dialects is still arabic. Mandarin chinese can't even speak to cantonese chinese (but they can write to each other), yet it is still chinese. Except for Mohammed, arabic first and last names were everywhere. You could not tell an arab from a Chaldean, except for the cross on his/her neck. This unfortunately has been consistent when I met Assyrian-Catholics overseas.
One of your readers mentioned that they have the wealth. It is true, but not in this country. Back home, we suffer persecution, here we suffer discrimination. There is a difference. If you have arabic names and only speak arabic, you've met most of the Baathi's goals, so you have more benefits. It does not work the same here. The same reader thinks that we've made the Assyrian name mean Nestorian. It would be funny if it weren't so sad that one can come up with such idiotic conclusions. No church of the east member has ever described himself as the papal designated word "Nestorian". I myself have grown up in the Presbyterian faith. NEVER have we called ourselves anything but Assyrian. Although the religion is of western influence, it is not as extreme as the Catholics. Imagine if a missionary arrived in Urmia and said to us, trade your religion at the door for a book. We shall provide education and some protection from the muslims and you can preach in your ancient language. Fine. That is what a lot of us did. Now imagine if they told us that you have to give up your Syriac language and your Assyrian name. From now on, you are to be called "Sumerians" and you shall distant yourselves from those other heretics. We would laugh and say get the hell out of here. Division is your goal.
Ludicrous as it sounds, the pope was extremely successful. And Assyrians are finding this out in vast numbers. Only a few years ago, if an Assyrian or "Chaldean" wanted to find out about his or her history, they would ask their parents or church members. So ingrained is this hate for the Assyrian name in older folks, "Chaldeans" would never find out the truth. Now, the pope and even "Chaldean" priests acknowledge the truth. With the advent of the internet, people are finding out their true identities. 'Who am I?' is a common question we all ask. A language so obscure and unknown has become invaluable and cherished overnight. Qolaa D Maarraan (The promise of our lord on the return of Assyria in Isaiah) is now know by 20,000 more Assyrians in one year. In our childhood, we grew up thinking we were different. Now our children will see themselves as special, with ancient customs and the language Jesus spoke in their hands and PROUD OF IT!! With that pride, western influences will be purged. Assyrian names will dominate our children, historical knowledge will take the place ignorance, and the people who caused our divisions will be looked at in mistrust and disdain. As Evin Aghassi's song, "Shikhdaa" puts it, Bikhzaayowin, Bikhzaayowin (I see it, I see it). Poosh bee shlama, Buyaanaa D Naashaa d Ashoorree...ps. send hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org."
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE LABEL: ASSYRIAN-CHALDEAN-SYRIAC?
A. The term Syriac is a linguistic designation. It is not an ethnic category. It neither brings a numeric advantage, nor does it create a more inclusive ethnicity. Therefore, the impression of a threefold unity is false.
1. The three tiered designation sets boundaries, which excludes wider legitimate membership.
2. It paves the way to new hyphenation claims. Why leave out Aramean, or Jacobite, Maronite etc.
3. On the other hand, it invites cessation claims. What would stop dissatisfied members of subcategories under this designation to apply for a separate status?
B. A name usually represents an entity; it does not create it. This label is chosen by its architects as a temporary designation which will supposedly glue together the components in a mere decade leading to the creation of an agreed-upon new designation for the next census count!!
1. Because it has the appearance of being inclusive, the architects of the designation have naively presupposed that the designees will accept it. An ethnic label cannot be imposed on a people, it has to be embraced by them.
2. In practical terms, this three tiered designation is divisive; because there are members from each group that reject it. So any organization or activity sponsored under this designation will have a selected number of participants only. So all that is going to be accomplished is the creation of yet another sectarian group.
PURPORTED ADVANTAGES OF THE LABEL:
This label was created by a small group of seven good-intentioned people to ward off the threat of a split after the Chaldean community requested to be categorized separately in the census counts, and the request was accepted. A compromise on the ethnic label was to have two advantages:
1. Reunite the Assyrian and the Chaldean communities
2. Maintain a numeric advantage.
Lets address each separately.
1. The attempt to unify the two groups both in the United States and abroad, has been an ongoing process for more than 50 years. If after all this time some members of the Chaldean community claim to constitute a totally distinct ethnic group, it is wishful thinking to imagine that a mere label can serve as a bridge to stand on such a fragile foundation. The decision of the Chaldean community is all the more significant given that the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East are attempting a unification and are dropping the designation Assyrian in favor of a united label which reads Church of the East.
2. And what about the numeric advantage? In the past the census bureau has used the designation Assyrian to group Chaldeans and a dozen other subgroups under that single category. What practical advantages did this numeric inclusiveness confer upon the Assyrian-Americans nationwide? The truth of the matter is that partly, due to the formation of regional immigrant enclaves in the United States, whatever political action we have taken to benefit our communities in the United States, has been localized and piecemeal. For example, our community in Chicago has taken political action on the local level as Assyrian, while our community in Detroit has done so as Chaldean. It is wishful thinking to imagine that now a mere change in labels is going to reverse the course of history in a matter of decades. More substantial grass-root measures are necessary for this, which is a topic beyond the scope of discussion at this point. Besides, keep in mind that the numeric advantage of the new designation is only in terms of thousands, which in strategic political terms, it is still not very significant. In fact at best, it is only a stopgap measure. On the other hand, the disadvantages, as mentioned above, far outweigh the assumed advantages.
Even though well intentioned, the decision of a handful of people to reverse the March 99 resolution reached by representatives of several Assyrian organizations to maintain the designation Assyrian in the census, was unfortunate to say the least. A consorted effort is required now to get the census bureau to honor the consensus reached by a more representative body. Going back to the 1990 status is not an option any longer. Henceforth we will have to live with the fact that our Chaldean brothers and sisters will not be categorized with the rest of us as Assyrians. Yes, we will be much smaller in numbers. But there are other small ethnic groups. This is not the only time that we realize that by standing steadfast we are losing numbers, and certain material advantages that go with it. This is nothing new for us Assyrians. Every day of our life we have known that if we had chosen a different identity, we would be far ahead in worldly terms. Many have done just that. But the Assyrians of today have inherited a legacy that they are determined to maintain, and that is not to sell out.
The loss of our Chaldean brother and sisters is unfortunate, but not as disastrous as some might think. Keep in mind that even as a separate category, the non-Arabized Chaldeans who want to preserve their ethnic identity, will be preserving dialects of the modern Assyrian language, and the same ethnic traditions that the Assyrians do.
It is with nostalgia that I remember a most high Chaldean religious dignitary, Mar Raphael Bidawid, whose picture appeared in the front page of one of the Assyrian Star issues, with words that, read: I am an Assyrian, will live as an Assyrian, and will die as an Assyrian. It is also with nostalgia that I remember the late David Perley, a Jacobite Assyrian nationalist who fought so hard for the Assyrian name and national identity merely 20 years ago. Today, some of our Jacobite Assyrian brothers, and sisters, have also decided to revert back to their traditional designations. Fortunately even though separate, we are all going the same way in terms of preserving the language and traditions that are common to us all. History proves that our attempt to unite under the one Assyrian national name has failed. This was bound to happen. Our historical experience as a nation was too young for a unified national label to sustain us. We preserved our factional outlook and practices despite claims to a unified identity. Now we need to endure the consequences. And start afresh. This time action has to come first, the name will follow next, and stand on the foundation that we build. What if it is too late? I do not know about you, but personally, I would prefer to go extinct as an Assyrian.
Dr. Arian Ishaya
COMPETITION MEANS RESPECT
The following is an editorial published last month in the Detroit News in response to the killing of an African-American person in Detroit by two alleged "Arab-Chaldeans":
The beating death of Kalvin Porter, allegedly at the hands of two gas station clerks of Arab descent, has led to picketing and accusations of racism. But the proper place for determining exactly what happened is the courts. We hope that the summit meeting of community leaders called for today in the wake of Mr. Porters death will not only tamp down passions but yield a genuinely fruitful discussion about possible reasons for such confrontations.
Detroit NAACP president Wendell Anthony complained that the black community has too long been the victim of mistreatment and disrespect by some who operate and work in stores and gas stations in our neighborhoods. He urged Detroiters to shop with discernment and only shop with merchants that treat us with respect. And he noted a fairly lengthy history of tension between African Americans and Chaldean Americans.
Nobody would disagree with the need to bar mistreatment and disrespect. But Chaldean Americans point out that several hundred of their number have been killed in Detroit in the last few decades. And the intriguing question is why any store employee would mistreat or show disrespect to a customer, assuming the customer is there to transact business in the normal manner.
That's not to say that either customers or employees check their prejudices or stupidities or violent tendencies at the door. But stores ultimately depend on making a profit, and customers need what stores offer. Both parties have a specific interest in getting along. Markets thus tend to create civility, not enmity.
Unless, of course, the market in question is not really a market, but a monopoly. In that case the owner and his or her employees may feel they can take their customers for granted, or worse. And that's exactly the way many Detroiters feel they are treated in the limited number of retail establishments available to them in the city, many of which are run by Chaldean Americans or other immigrants.
Many Detroiters harbor suspicions that Chaldean Americans dominate such outlets by dint of exploitation and some sort of conspiracy. But in a city that is politically controlled by blacks, such explanations seem far-fetched. Yes, Arab Americans often conspire to mobilize capital that isn't available to others, but other groups are free to do the same and much of that capital consists of family members or immigrants willing to work long hours for low pay until the business begins to pay off.
Thus activists might do better to focus on barriers to capital formation and business success that might expand choices for Detroiters. When store owners and employees are confronted with vigorous competition, they have a positive incentive to treat customers well and to understand the host culture better. Making Detroit safe and profitable for more entrepreneurs would yield more social and financial dividends than sensitivity training for the entrepreneurs who already do business in the city.
The Detroit News
Thursday, May 20, 1999
Editorial & Opinions
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PUMP UP THE VOLUME
||Feminine||A compromise between friends: khda maslkhanoota bil rakhmeh|
||Feminine||Continuous Disagreement: lataroota d'la shoolama|
BACK TO THE FUTURE
In the ancient Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia) an offering of food and/or libation, called kispum, was bi-monthly dedicated to the deceased. When king Ashurbanipal attacked Elam he destroyed the graves of the former Elamite kings and carried off their bones to Assyria so that no kipsum could be offered to them.
Mesopotamian Civilization, Potts
The British archeologist, Sir Henry Layard, in a correspondence to Rawlinson complains that he has taken the credit for the Assyrian archaeologist, Hormozd Rassam's discoveries which included Ashurbipal's palace and library. Two years later, a British publication, refers to Rassam as a "foreigner in an Englishman's position."
The Conquest of Assyria, Larsen
THE FIRST CORNER
That night [Rassam] personally supervised the excavations. He had his workers follow the damaged wall in the opposite direction and he soon discovered that it belonged to a passage which was gradually ascending. Layard had found such passages leading out of the large palace in the south of the mound, and hoped that this wall would eventually take him up in the palace itself.
He had indeed found a new palace, and he could tell Layard a few days later that the reliefs he was now discovering were truly extraordinary:
"I venture to say that the art displayed in the treatment of both men & animals in these bas-reliefs surpass every thing yet discovered in the ruins of Assyria...I have no doubt that these Sculptures which we have found will be wanted in England."
[Rassam] had found the first corner of the gigantic palace complex which had been built by the last major Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, a man about whom nothing was known at this time simply because he was not mentioned in the Bible. He had been responsible, nevertheless, for the greatest expansion of the Assyrian empire, including the conquest of Egypt, and he was the king who had initiated the creation of the large scholarly library, parts of which had been found in the southern palace at Kuyunjik.
The Conquest of Assyria
Mogens Trolle Larsen
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
June 7, 1914 : Assyrian residents of New Britain, Connecticut, establish an welfare committee to help the Assyrian immigrants from the Middle East. The group called itself the "Tiglath-Pileser Society."
HANNIBAL ALKHAS' "ASSYRIANS"
The Assyrian artist, Hannibal Alkhas, was born in 1930 in the city of Kermanshah, Iran. He is the son of the Assyrian writer, Rabbie Addai Alkhas, and the nephew of the Assyrian poet, John Alkhas. Hannibal Alkhas currently holds a teaching position at the Free Islamic University of Tehran.
AANYA DANCE PARTY
With D.J. William
SyrCOM-99: THIRD INTERN. FORUM ON SYRIAC COMPUTING
The aim of this series of forums is two-fold: firstly, to give academics and professionals who work on computational projects related to Syriac studies an opportunity to meet and share their work and experience; secondly, to provide scholars and computer users with presentations and talks which may
FIFTH ANNUAL ASSYRIAN GRADUATION ASSEMBLY
Hosted by Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
ASSYRIAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Sponsored by the Assyrian-American National Federation
SECOND KIRKUK SCHOOL REUNION
A Re-union of Assyrians of Kirkuk
We cordially invite you to the 2nd Reunion of the "Assyrian School Kirkuk" dinner and dance party being arranged for the Assyrians of Kirkuk, their friends and relatives
Hanging Gardens Banquet
MEMORIAL OF ST. EPHREM
Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean and Malabarese)
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