|Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E|
|Neesan 11, 6750 Volume VI Issue 7 April 11, 2000|
To receive our weekly notification message or this issue in text format write to email@example.com.
|The Lighthouse||Rommel Eliah on Zowaa & the Future of Assyrians|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Turkish Troops Advance Further into Northern Iraq|
|News Digest||Syria Warned Maronite Pope Against Visit to Holy Land
U.S. Maronite Church Calls for "Syriac" Designation
Habib Afram to Lecture at Georgetown University
|Surfs Up||"We shall never allow them."|
|Surfers Corner||Bet-Eil Donations to Assyrian Communities in 1999
AACC of Turlock Webcasting Assyrian Music
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Beth Suryoyo Othuroyo
BSO Discussion Forum
Music of Walter Aziz at Amazon.Com
|Literatus||A Tel Aviv Postcard|
|Bravo||Monument of Sumuramat|
|Pump Up the Volume||Movement & Motion|
|Back to the Future||Erishum's Tax Policy & Mar Benyamin in Tiflis|
|This Week in History||Zowaa Established in Bet-Nahrain|
|Calendar of Events||April 2000|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
ROMMEL ELIAH ON ZOWAA & THE FUTURE OF ASSYRIANS
On March 12, 2000, a seminar entitled "The Assyrian Genocide: Living with Hope for the Future" sponsored by the Assyrian Academic Society in conjunction with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, was held at North Park University, Chicago. The following was the presentation of Mr. Rommel Eliah, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ZOWAA) representative in the United States.
"Today, I begin my address by raising some questions about our nation and its cause. What are the most important issues that concern us? What kind of a future do we want our nation to experience? How do we prioritize our national objectives? Should we be concerned about obtaining national security? What strategies are we going to implement to accomplish short, medium, and long-term goals? Do we have programs to protect our national heritage? What role do Assyrians around the world play in supporting the struggle in our homeland? And lastly, what kind of a foundation do we have today to step forward from?
Most of you know that Assyrians have lived in our homeland for hundreds of years under governments we neither trusted nor loved. We have known what our sickness is, but have not found the cure. We have known what are our weaknesses, but not our strengths. The Assyrians living in Iraq have learned to live with their wounds. Dreams have been lost. Hopes have been lost.
For some time now we have longed for change but feared failure. Not only failure but the threat of making life even more difficult. Our belief that change will come has long since been defeated. As a result, our movement towards the future and a better life has been shadowed by lost hopes, sad memories of the past and a pessimistic mind-set. This along with other factors are the reasons why our nation is still struggling even when the age of information lies ahead. We are still behind the curve, in the age of the Worldwide Web, globalization with open markets, peaceful change, government legitimacy and democracy.
Today, I believe it is worth remembering the real Assyrian heroes who have and are still fighting for change in the homeland we so adore. For more than twenty years now, since its establishment in 1979, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, ZOWAA, has been laying the foundation and setting up the framework for a better future. It has not been the easiest time to attempt such a restructuring. We all know that in the last twenty years, Iraq has gone through the bloodiest period in its history. The result has been the prevailing of a ruthless tyranny. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been slain by this shameless regime and the insane policies it employees. Sixty to seventy thousands Assyrians were killed during the two recent Gulf wars and more than half a million fled their homeland.
During that extremely grim period, our hopes and aspirations of a better life fell on the shoulders of ZOWAA to pave the road for a new beginning. In 1991, our cause got a fresh breath and slowly began the building momentum. The momentum came in spite of the double boycott through international sanctions and additional restrictions imposed by the Baghdad regime. I would say that some functional experiences have been gained from these hard circumstances and have performed well in practice. Our people in northern Iraq, driven by national interests and major objectives, have accomplished much.
Through dedication and concern to protect our national values, they have grown confident and continued to sacrifice accordingly. In the last ten years, ZOWAA has managed to minimize risks while maximizing gains and benefits. ZOWAA opened the door of opportunity while it was previously closed. Let me tell you about some of their accomplishments:
In Iraqi Kurdistan, ZOWAA has joined the governmental parliament totaling four members and also have a minister in the government's cabinet. Besides this progress, we have established and strengthened our relationships with the Iraqi Opposition parties, promoted democratic values, spread our views on human rights practices in the region and continue to participate in the ongoing struggle to maintain peace. Today our cause and rights as a nation are well understood and recognized by the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Opposition groups.
In the social arena, ZOWAA supports our people in the building of villages and churches. During the previous years, the Assyrian Cultural centers, Athletic clubs and other social organizations increased their activities and expanded their ranks. Mass organizations such as the Assyrian Youth, the Assyrian Student Union and the Assyrian Women's Union have also expanded their activities and memberships. The Assyrian media established by ZOWAA has also been improved.
Today, our people in the north (Nuhadra and Arbil) enjoy daily television and radio broadcasts. One of the most significant accomplishments has been the curriculum to teach our native tongue, Assyrian language, in the official schools. We are now teaching the core curriculum in the Assyrian language. Thousands of students in the north are now using our Assyrian language not only as a language of conversation and prayer, but also as a living language to study science, social studies, history, geography, humanities and literature. Today we have twelve primary schools in Arbil and sixteen in Nuhadra [Dohuk] plus Naseebin Assyrian Secondary school in Nuhadra. We are improving our schools and teaching facilities such as buses, classrooms and dormitories. We see the future of our nation in the eyes of the children attending the Assyrian schools.
All of these achievements can be explained easily but were not easily initiated and implemented. Indeed these were not years of waiting but rather of Doing. Make no mistake, these aspirations didn't come by accident. The cost was lives of young Assyrians. These accomplishments didn't come from sitting in the ivory towers but rather through hard work, sacrifices, wise and confident policies and through practical implementation of progressive programs.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Assyrian Aid Society with their fundraising efforts and with the active support of our people played a key role to mobilize, motivate and inspire every Assyrian with organized discipline and systematic ways. To turn what was once a dream, ten years ago, into a reality today is the art of politics. The art of making the impossible possible.
The Assyrian families, teachers, engineers, doctors, students, youth, women, farmers and politicians are living a life full of meaning and purpose. A life of duty, honor and responsibility. They are all taking solid steps towards returning respect and credibility to our nation. They have became makers rather than consumers of history. With courage, open minds and open hearts, they are shaping the events and not shaped by them.
In our homeland, ZOWAA is choosing the most suitable means from those available to meet the required ends. We are adjusting the optimum to the possible in the light of technical limitations. We are developing the chances and proposals to deal with the new problems. We have plans of actions to achieve specific political and social outcomes and choose those actions which will work under certain circumstances and this is the art of strategy.
We in ZOWAA made this progress not by telling our people what to do but rather by giving them the tools and helping them do what is good for our nation. In all this period, ZOWAA promises little and delivers much. In the last ten years and in every single turn down the road, ZOWAA depended and continue to depend on our people. Yet, we do not believe that what has been done is all that can be done. We still have not solved older, deeply rooted national problems that hinder our progress. We still face problems, make mistakes, experience difficulties, but let us look at the glass and see it as half full. There is a difference between having things and doing things. In all that has been accomplished, ZOWAA was the leader and a servant.
What did we learn from all of this?
We learned that what failed before, when modified to meet new circumstances may prove to be successful. As a nation, we have learned that money spent (even in small quantity), when spent wisely and effectively then much can be gained. We learned that the decisions we make should be based on our national needs and not on the needs of any selected group. We learned that to lead is to serve and bear the burden of those who we serve. We learned that we have the capacity to decide for ourselves as Assyrians rather than to accept decisions made by others for us. We learned that when we use both, the brain and the heart and convert anger and emotions into policies then we can do better. We learned that if history had divided us once, it can unit us as well when we learn the difference between passion and power. We learned that we must first practice what we preach to others. We learned that we should not use excuses that will prevent us from dealing with our pressing priorities..
ZOWAA today is bravely facing those who want to stand against our nation. ZOWAA's members in northern Iraq put their lives in harms way everyday to defend our freedom. ZOWAA is reaching to the center of what we believe and is giving us every reason to renew our faith. ZOWAA today is carrying a heavy burden which we should not let it carry it alone.
Our duty today is to support what works and stop supporting what does not work. By doing that, we prevent the terrible fate which may lie ahead for our nation.
Thank you, Bassime Raba."
Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa)
TURKISH TROOPS ADVANCE FURTHER INTO NORTHERN IRAQ
(ZNRU: London) Turkish troops have continued their advance into northern Iraq, in their latest operation to track down Kurdish guerrillas in the area. Turkish newspapers said last week that the troops -- backed by air power -- were advancing towards the towns of Haftanin and Khwakurk. There are no reports of casualties so far.
The Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, says
it's observing a ceasefire called by its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who's been
condemned to death in Turkey for treason. But Turkish officials say they
don't trust the group to keep its word.
SYRIA WARNED MARONITE POPE AGAINST VISIT TO HOLYLAND
Courtesy of Lebanon Bulletin, April 2, 2000
(ZNDA: D.C.) According to the World Lebanese Organization's sources in Beirut and South Lebanon, the Syrian occupation authorities massively pressured the Maronite Church not to participate in the Jubilee celebrations in the Holy Land under the auspices of the Pope. As Lebanon Bulletin learned from Maronite sources in the Holy Land, a committee to organize Patriarch Sfeir's visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas was formed in January. The "committee" included local Maronite leaders and Church officials whose mission was to coordinate with Vatican officials as to the details of Sfeir's participation in the Papal events. Patriarch Sfeir was to appear in all gatherings alongside with Pope John Pope II, "to demonstrate Rome's attachment and support for the spiritual leader of the Maronite Church," according to sources close to the Vatican. The Maronite Committee in the Holy Land was able to organize three major events for the Maronite Patriarch in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa. His Excellency Mor Sfeir was scheduled to meet Arafat and Israeli leaders with the Pope. The Maronite community in the Holy Land had also planned several meetings with the local communities and a special program in Nazareth. The Patriarchal visit however was put to a brutal halt by a Syrian threat which was directed to Bkerke (seat of the Maronite Patriarchate).
In addition to pressures against the Patriarchate and the individual Bishops, Syrian intelligence officers warned any priest or monk from the Maronite, Catholic or any Lebanese Christian churches and denominations not to travel to the Holy land to co-celebrate services with the Pope. According to southern Lebanese sources, even the Maronite and other Lebanese Christian pastors of the security zone were sent strong messages not to cross the borders to accompany the thousands of civilians who participated in the Tiberias service. The aim of the "Syrian intelligence" being to abort any contact between the Maronite Church and Israel, or to show the world that the Christians of Lebanon have no psychological barrier in visiting the Holy Land. A senior Lebanese political analyst said "this move to disrupt any connection between the Lebanese Christian Church and the Vatican, in an area as symbolic and sensitive as the Holy Land, is an indicator as to the intentions of the Syrians and Hizbollah regarding the southern Lebanese communities after Israel withdrawal. This is a message directed to the Christians of Lebanon in general, as to deny them any recourse to save and help the southern communities from the wrath of "punishment" after Israel's withdrawal. It is to note that neither Bkerke nor any official of the Maronite Church made any official remark as to the reason behind the abstention from meeting the Pope in the Holy Land. When asked by the media about this matter (his potential visit to the Holy Land) upon his return from his visit to Egypt last month, Patriarch Sfeir said: "we don't know, we will see, we will decided then."
Courtesy of Lebanon Bulletin, April 9, 2000
In a historic move that would bring potential change to the visibility and clout of the Lebanese-American community, the Maronite Church in the US asked its members to identify as "Syriacs," braking years of dominance of the Arab lobby in America in the most sensitive area of domestic politics. The historic move, was embodied by a circular no. 10 issued by the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn in New York, and signed by Chorbishop Joseph Kaddo.
The memorandum, released to the Pastors and Administrators of the Eparchy of Saint Maron:
THE US MARONITE CHURCH MEMORANDUM
"As you know the Federal Decennial Census 2000 is currently underway. In previous Federal census registrations, Lebanese Maronites were counted as "Arabs," which means that any Federal moneys which were available for educational and social services, went to the Arab ethnic community at large. The US Census Bureau has approved a new category named Syriac (not Syrian), which represents for the first time separate recognition for the people of Syriac-speaking origin. It is important that our people register as Syriac on the census 2000 forms. Registration as white will simply include us in the majority population and registration as Lebanese will include us automatically as Arabs. To register as Syriac, the Census Forms should be filled as follows: Short Census Form: First page, at question 7, the box for "No (not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino) should be filled in at the spaces provided there. At the sections for additional persons on the following pages, at Question 5, the box for "No (not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino) should be filled in at the spaces provided there for each additional person listed.
Long Census Form: Third page, at the question on race, the box for "some other race" should be checked and Syriac should be filled in at the spaces provided there. At the sections for additional persons on pages 4 and following, at the question for each additional resident, Syriac (not Lebanese) should be written in at the space provided.
A sheet with examples of how to fill out these questions is enclosed for your information. It is my suggestion that our people be encouraged to register as Syriac on the Census 2000 Forms. In this way, we will be counted as a separate ethnic minority, and may qualify for some Federal financial assistance for our educational and social programs. Please communicate this information promptly to your parishioners."
* * *
Also, the American Maronite Union (AMU), the national affiliate of the World Maronite Union (WMU) issued an urgent action alert calling on all Maronites and Lebanese Christians in the US who missed this critical point to send another Census Form.
AMU ACTION ALERT (released via Internet)
To all members of the Maronite community in the United States, as well as to all Lebanese Christians from Aramaic-Syriac descent. The Eparchy of the Saint Maron of Brooklyn issued a historical call to all of us to identify as "Syriac" in the ongoing US Census. We, as American Maronite Union, cannot but praise our spiritual leadership and our Church for this crucial move. This ethnic self identification will finally allow us to emerge as a proud community, reconciled with its history and confident in its American future. The term Syriac (Syriani) is not Syrian (Suri). Syriac is our historical identity, Syriac is our historical language which we still use partially in our services. But more importantly, in the current political and institutional frameworks, it will allow our community finally to distinguish itself from the Arab-American community. That distinction is not sought for the aim of creating divisions but as a fundamental right to our community, the largest American ethnic group from Middle Eastern Christian descent.
The US Census is crucial for us Maronites and Lebanese Christians for several reasons. In addition to the issue of Federal funds which must be distributed fairly, the fact that the US Government will have to recognize our community, its numbers, and its distribution will have important consequences regarding our main community issues, particularly the Lebanese cause. Therefore, the American Maronite Union, a Maronite advocacy group which seeks to defend the rights of our community in this country, urges all those who did not receive the memorandum and didn't return their Census Forms yet, to use the term Syriac when indicating ethnic and ancestry affiliation. As to those who sent their forms without this reference we urge you to contact the Census Bureau at your earliest convenience to request a new form. The AMU will be available to assist all those who need further information or who would decide to send a new form.
We cannot but stress the crucial importance of the Maronite
Church memorandum, considering it as the most important declaration of
our Church in America since its inception.
(ZNDA: Washington D.C.) Last week, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University announced a lecture by Mr. Habib Afram, President of the Syriac Universal Alliance, the Syriac League in Lebanon and the Secretary General of the Union of Christian Leagues. Mr. Afram's lecture, "The Future of Syriac-Speaking Christians in the Middle East," will be held at Georgetown University's Salaam Conference Center, Bunn Intercultural Center, 7th Floor on 27 April at 7:00 pm.
Mr. Afram's arrival in the U.S. coincides with last week's unexpected announcement made by the Syrian and Lebanese-based Aramaic-speaking churches in the U.S., calling for their parishioners to designate themselves as "Syriac" in the U.S. Census 2000.
Last month, Mr. Afram congratulated the new Syrian Prime Minister
Mohammed Mustafa Miro on his appointment and his Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas
for his re-appointment to the Syrian Cabinet. Such Syrian-friendly gestures
have already angered many Lebanese Christians in the U.S., an issue that may
overshadow Afram's greater message of Syriac-Christian unity in the Middle East.
Mr. Afram is expected to make similar visits to California, Boston, and Chicago.
“First of all, I would like to wish all Assyrians around the world a happy and prosperous New Year, and I pray the Lord will bless this year for all members of the Assyrian nation. The Assyrian New Year is a blessed and sacred occasion in the history of our nation, symbolizing our rebirth from the bitter winter months to the bountiful seasons of spring and summer.
This is the time for all of us to look inward and decide what we want as a people and what we want to accomplish as a nation. We have reached a millennial new year and we have the opportunity to change for the better so that as Assyrians, we can advance not only as individuals, but also as a people. While it is true that we are from different countries in the Middle East, such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, as well as countries from the West, we are all one Assyrian family and there is no other name that we can call ourselves except Assyrian. We should be proud that after all the suffering our people have endured at the hands of pagans and Muslims throughout the years, still we are able to maintain our ancient culture and traditions, whether in the Middle East or the Western world.
Although at this time there are selfish and deceitful individuals, certain political organizations, and specific religious institutions that want to corrupt and deny the glorious name of Assyria, that blessed and ancient name with a history full of mighty accomplishments, the name whom the Lord God himself gave to our nation, they cannot and we shall never allow them.
During this past week, many of us took part in various events celebrating our nation's new year. We were honored and overjoyed that we were able to carry out the traditions of our ancestors. Furthermore, we are proud that we are Assyrians, and to all the nations of the world we proclaim that we are Assyrians! Nevertheless, it is extremely important that we never forget how many sacrifices our forefathers have offered upon the altar of Assyrian nationalism. We must never forget the countless number of martyrs our beloved nation has given for the survival of her people and holy church. We must never forget all of the persecutions, massacres, tortures, murders, and rapes our ancestors have endured for the sake of their Assyrian identity and Christian faith.
Beloved reader, today we are able to call ourselves "Assyrian" because our forefathers have purchased our inheritance into this mighty nation with their own sacred blood. We remain Assyrians because our holy martyrs, with their irrefutable sacrifices, have kept our identity and Assyrian name alive among the nations of world. Today, we are Assyrians because those that came before us, with an unprecedented love for their Christian faith and Assyrian ancestry, have safeguarded their heritage not only for us, but for generations of Assyrians that follow.
My fellow Assyrians, we are the descendants of that mighty nation that had established thousands of years before Christ the first empire this world has known. As Assyrians, we are the sons and daughters of that proud race that was the first to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and spread the good news of a Savior to the ends of the known world, such as Japan, China, Mongolia, and Siberia. Today, we are the only remnants of that once mighty civilization, whose accomplishments and works are taught and displayed throughout the universities and museums of Europe and America. If those non-living stone and clay artifacts are crying out their Assyrian ancestry, how much more do we, who owe our existence to our sacred Assyrian martyrs, need to proclaim to the nations of the world our Assyrian identity and heritage!? I pray that all Assyrians, including our political and religious leaders, will never deny and forget their Assyrian nation. Additionally, I encourage all Assyrians and those of Assyrian descent to always speak our language, that holy language which Christ himself spoke to his disciples. Our language needs to be continuously used at home and at our gatherings, and parents, please teach your children how to speak Assyrian and the importance of using it. It is one of the few bonds that links us to our ancient ancestors.
I hope that this document has demonstrated my love and admiration as an Assyrian for my people and Christian faith. Furthermore, I hope that it has inspired you to realize the importance of remembering our past and looking forward to the future, while maintaining our ancient and most beautiful culture and traditions. I trust that you have gained a new understanding of the importance of keeping our heritage and identity alive. In conclusion, I trust that we shall never let those that conspire against the Assyrian nation to succeed in corrupting our pure and glorious name. We are the descendants of those mighty Assyrians, who through their hands civilization evolved and prospered, setting the standard for all other nations to follow. The interests of our people, who were once as vast as the mighty oceans but now have been reduced to a mere droplet amongst the nations of the world, should be the motivation and driving force of our leaders for one day unifying our people as one. Additionally, the advancement of our nation in all fields through education should be of the utmost importance and concern for all those that claim themselves as true Assyrians.”
Deacon John Badal Piro, B.S., M.S.
BET-EIL WELFARE COMMITTEE DONATIONS
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Welfare Committee of the Bet-Eil Assyrian
Church is pleased to report that the following donations were made in 1999 to
assist the Assyrian communities in:
We would like to take this opportunity to thank those who helped last year.
If you wish to learn more about this committee and our activities, please contact us at:
Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
P.O. Box 54184
San Jose, CA 95154
Telephone: (408) 264-7057
Fax: (408) 264-7087
Thank you and God bless you,
The Welfare Committee
Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
San Jose, California
Another gift to ALL ASSYRIANS around the world
The Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock Radio is now Webcasting LIVE, 24 hours x 7 days, from their web site at www.aaccturlock.org (click here). Click on Radio FM.
No player to download, no plug-in , and no waiting. It works with all computers, PC or MAC.
This is the first and only Assyrian Radio Station Webcasting with Java Streaming.
Soon you will be able to communicate with this Radio while it is Webcasting a program and even request a song. Use any of the following methods to send your message:
1- AOL instant Messenger
Many thanks to the Assyrian American Civic Club in Turlock and their President Ramin Odisho for this wonderful gift to the Assyrian Nation.
Keep tuned for more good news soon. Check it out and enjoy our wonderful Assyrian Music.
Born January 10, 1931, died of cancer on March 18, 2000 at the Hospice Center for Hope in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Ted and Sylvia Aurahan Weidemann were married for 35 years. During their marriage Ted "adopted" himself as an "Assyrian." He was a member of the then Knights of Assyria, Union County, New Jersey. He and Sylvia were gracious hosts and held the monthly Sunday meetings in their home.
Summer meetings were convened in their backyard pool. There were quite a few young people in the "Club" at that time and many learned to swim in the Weidemann Pool. Towels were strategically placed around the apron of the pool to allow the younger children to wipe their eyes. Ted enjoyed Assyrian food and he and Sylvia would prepare and serve Kadi and Chai. He attended many of the Assyrian-American conventions held on Labor Day. In 1971, he and his wife went to Iran on a charter and stayed there for five glorious weeks. He especially enjoyed the trip to Urmia to the church where Qasha Joesph Yohannan, great grandfather of Sylvia, preached. Ted also had a good time visiting the bazaar and baths in Tehran.
Ted is survived by his wife, son Kenneth, three granddaughters and three great grandchildren.
The Assyrian community has lost a good friend. He will be missed.
Sylvia Aurahan Weidemann
Roselle, New Jersey
4 April 2000
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
A TEL AVIV POSTCARD
Pope John Paul II's visit to terra sancta evoked several themes. The most profound was his brave effort, unpopular within much of the church hierarchy, to palliate the bitter relationship between the followers of Jesus and the people that denies that Jesus' testament supersedes its own. This loyalty to their vision of the divine has brought the Jews merciless persecution--from the Catholic Church, from virtually every schismatic Christian church, and from numerous princes and potentates whose cruelty served the pious ideal. And now this pope, this astonishing pope, has conceded the whole brutal narrative. No wonder he was welcomed by the Jewish state--and by the 30 Israeli survivors of the Jewish catastrophe who hail from his hometown of Wadowice, some of whom witnessed his decency during the Nazi nightmare. Again and again during his visit to Israel, and most stirringly before the monumental golden stones of the Western Wall, the pope spoke of Judaism not as an errant doctrine but as the very source of monotheism. "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations," he said. John Paul is an exemplary man. And, like most moral models, he has not been adequately emulated.
Nor did he himself have many models to emulate. The interaction between Zionism and the papacy is long and unhappy. In 1904, Theodore Herzl raised the idea of a Jewish state in a Vatican audience with Pius X. The pope listened carefully and then told his supplicant, according to Herzl's diaries, that it was a vision "that we cannot support." But, if the Jews did settle in Palestine, Pius noted helpfully, "we would prepare churches and priests to convert them all."
Pius XII also disliked Zionism. And that distaste cannot be disentangled from his silence in the face of the genocide that gave the Jewish state its final justification. Pius XII tried to rally the Catholic U.N. member states against the 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine. When that failed, he urged that Jerusalem become a corpus separatum--an international city whose government the church might dominate. That gambit failed as well, since the Arab states and the Arabs of Palestine refused any provisions for partition. But the Vatican's infatuation with an internationalized Jerusalem has endured. As Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tauran recently put it, Jerusalem ought to be "protected by a special law backed by international guarantees." John Paul, so unlike Pius XII in so many ways, has continued this unfortunate legacy. And, worse, he has begun proceedings to bestow on his shameful predecessor the ultimate honor: sainthood.
But, if John Paul believes Pius XII a saint, does he also believe that people of power are justified in remaining silent when, in the words of a recent Vatican document, "women and men, old and young ... for the sole reason of their Jewish origin, were degraded, ill-treated, tortured, and utterly robbed of their human dignity"? Of course he doesn't. But Pius was silent. And the pope cannot fully honor the Holocaust's victims while honoring its enablers as well. John Paul did not come alone. He brought with him perhaps 50,000 Christian pilgrims. But most of the traffic, for a long time now, has headed the other way. To be an indigenous Christian in the Holy Land, indeed in the entire Middle East, is to carry much more than a metaphorical cross. The Assyrian Christians of Iraq were murdered decades ago. The Coptic Christians of Egypt are continually persecuted--not only by Muslim extremists but by a regime fed by U.S. money. There are almost no Christians in Saudi Arabia, save those foreigners in the diplomatic service, in business, and in the armed services of Western countries. And even they may not worship publicly. Once, on a flight between Riyadh and Jeddah, I sat next to a woman from the American South. Working as a teacher, she'd been living in Saudi Arabia for many years with her husband and children. I asked her whether she was a Christian. She answered, "Yes, a Christian in the catacombs." She was a Catholic, and she told me the difficulties she had getting her children confirmed. "There was this defrocked priest in the Italian Embassy, and every so often he'd give his servants a holiday. That's when he celebrated Mass for needy Catholics, and on one of these occasions my twins had their confirmation." And then she added, "Last November, when I arrived in Riyadh from Germany, where I was visiting my sister, I brought a plastic Christmas tree with me for the holidays. It was confiscated at customs as a religious object."
The ironies are legion. In almost all its incarnations, Arab nationalism is a creation of Christians, who hoped their loyalty to a secular brotherhood would insulate them from Islam's mass mobilizations. This is how Iraqi nationalism began and spread throughout the Arab world. Even today, the most notable leaders of Palestinian rejectionism are Christians--from the rogue terrorists headquartered in Damascus to Peter Jennings's favorite Palestinian, Hanan Ashrawi, to one-time Arafat flack turned impassioned enemy Edward Said of Morningside Heights, New York.
But, on the ground, Palestinian Christians are an endangered species. Legendary Christian towns like Jericho, Ramallah, and Bethlehem are now mostly Muslim. In 1944, 40,000 Christians lived in Arab Jerusalem. They lived for two decades under Jordanian sovereignty, and their numbers plummeted. Israeli rule gave them some relief, but the Intifada, with its relentless virtual jihad against the Jews, made Christian life insecure as well. There are now 10,000 Christians left in the Holy City. Writing last week in Israel's newspaper Ha'aretz, Danny Rubinstein noted that the average age of Palestinian Christians under Arafat's control is 31, while the average age of the general population of the Palestinian territories is 18. This is a demographic death knell. What's more, if intermarriage occurs, the Christian partner must convert to Islam. The world's Christian clergy wants to stem the abandonment of the Holy Land.
And, in this, Israel--which views Christians as less hostile to the Zionist cause--is their ally. But, nonetheless, all the local churches routinely side with the Palestinian Authority against the Israeli government. Nothing good for Christians will come of any of this pandering--nothing. John foster Dulles once wondered why the Jews and the Arabs couldn't settle their squabbles like "Christian gentlemen." But the Holy Land's Christians are not immune to squabbles of their own. Although they momentarily put aside their differences for the pope's worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, they are bitterly divided. John Paul visited the church--the burial place of Jesus and surely the most sacred site in Christendom--twice. But the fourth-century Holy Sepulchre is a study in the theological wars between the Catholics, the Greek Orthodox, and the Armenians. When Pope Paul VI visited it in 1964, priests from different sects actually came to blows. The Third World Copts and Abyssinian Christians, who also claim it as their shrine, are palpably despised by their richer ecclesiastical cousins. In Berlin in 1878, the European powers held an ostensibly successful congress to solve the Holy Sepulchre's ancient conflicts.
But it did not. And neither can even this great pope. John Paul II came to terra sancta in the deep dusk of his life. I am not qualified to assay his doctrinal initiatives, although I suspect he is too conservative even for the good of Catholicism on the status of women and the celibacy of the clergy. Still, he won his and his church's struggle against communism. He picked up where John XXIII left off in reconciling the people of the Old Covenant with the peoples of the New Testament. After this trip to Israel, Jewish-Catholic relations will never be the same again. But this stunning achievement comes also in the dark dusk of Christianity's own immemorial existence in the Holy Land. Palestine's Christian diaspora, like that of the rest of the Middle East, is now scattered from Sydney to Buenos Aires to Detroit--scattered, mostly, by political Islam. The pope's Mass on the Mount of the Beatitudes was peopled not with 100,000 local Christians but with pilgrims who wanted to follow the Holy Father in the footsteps of Jesus. One more reason for this towering man to weep.
The New Republic
10 April 2000
Copyright 2000, The New Republic
In 1988 the monument of Asurbanipal was installed in San Francisco. That same year work began on a monument of Sumuramat, the legendary Shamiram, also known by the Greek name of Semiramis. In 1996 Helen Schwarten agreed to sponsor the project through her foundation. Donations had been received but the project was along way from the $150,000.00 needed.
The Chicago Arts Council accepted the monument, providing an excellent location a few blocks from the Oriental Institute on the campus of the University of Chicago. this is an ideal setting for several reasons: for one because of its proximity to one of the oldest and finest centers for the study of Assyriology (which includes also an excellent collection of original artifacts). To place an Assyrian public monument, after over 2500 years, in a country far removed from our homeland, yet our homeland nonetheless, next to a museum housing many actual objects dug from that ancient soil, transported here and displayed nearby, is a profound event. the university attracts students and professionals from around the country and across the world. Over the years these people will become emissaries, ambassadors for us, taking the memory of what they see and read on the monument to their home cities and native lands. In addition the site will be featured on a guided city arts bus tour, reaching even more people.
Fundraising for the monument came through donations from all parts of this country and around the world. After three years of fruitless efforts to encourage donations from the Assyrian community of Chicago, Helen Schwarten agreed to provide the bulk of the funds herself. This was not all in the spirit of the project which should rather have seen many Assyrians shouldering the burden to the best of their abilities, thereby making it light.
After a long and productive life, Helen Schwarten died in November of 1999. She had, only a few weeks before her death, paid for the bronze base upon which the eight-foot tall statue of the Queen and reclining lioness are to be placed. There remains the cost of building the concrete pedestal, facing it with black granite and building a twelve-foot pavilion around it. An estimate of $23,000.00 has been presented by a Chicago contractor.
We hope to install the complete monument in time for an official unveiling at this year's Assyrian American National Federation Convention in Chicago on Labor Day weekend. Hundreds of people from our community, in addition to others, would be on hand. The Arts Council is excited to be receiving this gift from the Assyrian community, and has promised to publicize the event.
We are nearing the end of a long road and if this monument is ever to be installed in Chicago, this summer must be the time. I urge you to join together with other Assyrians to provide the necessary funds to bring this monument to Chicago.
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
BACK TO THE FUTURE
King Erishum of Assyria introduces a tax-exempt trade on silver, gold, copper, tin, barley, and wool to maximize the profits obtained from trade passing through northern Bet-Nahrain.
The Ancient Near East, Kuhrt
Mar Benyamin, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church, travels to Tsibili (Tiflis) and is decorated by Grand Duke Nicholas, Tzar of Russia. At this time, Persia (today's Iran) was independent, yet the region of Urmia was under the Russian control. A few months later the Russian front in Urmia collapses as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Assyrians are deserted by their Russian allies.
The Tragedies of the Assyrians, Stafford
April 12, 1979:
The Assyrian Democratic Movement is established in Bet-Nahrain.
HANNIBAL ALKHAS PAINTINGS EXHIBITION
Sponsored by the Patriotic Revolutionaries of BethNahrin & Museium Jannink
The gallery opens officially on March 17 by the Syrian Orthodox Church's Bishop Yulius Cicek who lives in the Mor Afrem Monastery in Holland. Gedeputeerde Overijssel dhr. Jan Kristen and Wethouder dhr. M. Swart from Enschede will also be present. The opening ceremony will also feature Beth Nahrin folk music.
Phone: 053-431 9093
LONDON CENTRE FOR THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST LECTURE
"Egypt through the Assyrian annals"
INTERNATIONAL CULINARY EVENT
< Postponed until Further Notice >
2ND INTERN. CONGRESS ON THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
"Near Eastern Archaeology at the
Beginning of the 3d Millen. AD"
Contact: Secretary of the
FIRST ASSYRIAN MIDI COMPOSERS CONFERENCE
FOOTBALL (SOCCER) TOURNAMENT & PARTY
Sponsored by the Association of
the Assyro-Chaldeans of France
Participation Fee: 300 Franks
Centre Socioculturel des Assyro-Chaldéens
EIGHT CONGRESS FOR SYRIAC STUDIES
Department of Semitic Studies
For more information on speakers and papers click here
PERSECUTIONS & MASSACRES OF THE
An international conference on the subject of the fate of the Assyrian people after the collapse of the Assyrian Empire (612 B.C. - 2000 A.D.).
9:00 am - 9:05 am:
For more information & Registration Fee Detail click here
46th RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
"Nomadism and Sedentarism in the Ancient Near East"
College de France
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 33-1-48-87-82-58
38TH ANNUAL SYRIAN ORTH ARCHDIOCESES CONVENTION
The Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in Canada and United
Agenda: Review of the past 50 years of history of
the church in North America to identify and cement the strengths and work
In addition to a spiritual and cultural festival, a cruise on the Columbia River, a bus trip to Cascade Range, etc. are planned. Click Here
Robert Mulhim................Chicago.................The Lighthouse
Rita Pirayou.................Califorrnia................Surfers Corner
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