Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Eelool 14, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issues 22                   September 14, 2000
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T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse 67th Assyrian American National Convention
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain "Our Minority Rights [in Turkey] Should be Recognized"
Kurdish National Congress Supports Assyrian Represen.
Assyrians from Holland to Visit Tur-Abdin
News Digest Bashir Saadi Talks at ADO Anniversary Celebration
Church of the East to Build Primary School in Australia
Surfs Up "self-appointing themselves as the representatives..."
Surfers Corner Cultural Festival at Hengelo, Netherlands
Chaldean Man Works for Peace, Helps Villages in BN
Literatus "Israel Must Build Alliances with Non-Arabs Minorities"
Bravo! Assyrian Aid Society & Politics [1992-2000 Budget]
Assyrian Surfing Posts Videos of Assyria
Thea Halo's Interview on KPFA FM in Berkeley
WawAllap Assyrian Merchandise
Pump Up the Volume Present (gift) & Award
Back to the Future The Arsacids and Jackson's Epic of Gilgamesh
This Week in History "The New Assyrian"
Calendar of Events Assyriology Conference in Chicago
Picnic in San Francisco

All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.



It was simply spectacular!  Thousands of people and nearly two hundred delegates from the Assyrian organizations representing several countries were on the floor of Chicago's Hilton Hotel and Towers for the 67th Assyrian American National Convention from August 30 through September 4.  There were hugs and kisses, long-standing greetings, and brief eye-exchanges.  They had come from Europe, Canada, Australia, Russia, and the Middle East.  They cheered, danced, argued, shouted, sang, played the drums and even carried off the pleasantly-surprised non-Assyrian newlyweds at the end of their wedding ceremony.  If the ultimate goal of this convention was to bring together several thousand Assyrians from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, then the mission was fully accomplished.  Yet a few conventioneers returned home empty-handed, grieving the prospects for the survival of their national organization and ultimately the Assyrian culture in America.

The Convention officially began on Wednesday.  The roped-off areas of the hallways and the unfriendly faces of the security personnel reminded us of the ugly realities of crowd control in the past.  Despite the well-attended nightly dance parties and the large number of people walking along the "suicide trail" this year's Convention was impressively free of any serious clashes.   To our surprise the only laudable noise worth the attention of the Chicago Police came from the meetings of the Assyrian American National Federation.  Mr. Fred Parhad, the famous Assyrian Sculptor, had rightfully embarked on an offensive to grab some support from the AANF delegates for the revival of his ill-fated Samuramat Statue project in Chicago.

On Friday and Saturday, several educational sessions were organized by the AANF, the Assyrian Academic Society and the Assyrian scholars on hand.  Topics ranging from the Assyrian identity and heritage to music and literature were discussed by nearly thirty scholars, activists, political figures and graduate students.  The speakers were some of the most prominent people in the field of Assyrian studies, politics, and the Internet technology today.  The younger speakers often spoke with passionate intensity and reminded their audience that there was hope for the future of Assyrian nationalism and recognition.   Unfortunately, the militant attitude of the youth in the past had drastically subsided this year and there was a greater emphasis on the quality of the Assyrian fonts on the Internet than the future of the spoken Assyrian language by 2010.

As few were listening to one speaker’s discussion of Assyrian identity in Sweden, hundreds more were preparing for another “la Vida Loca” evening at the bar rooms.  The Assyrian “Jennifer Lopezes” and “Ricky Martins” gave the security officers plenty of reasons to continuously monitor the elevators and the small strip of walkway between the registration desks and Mrs. Field's Cookies stand.

This was also the year of AANF elections for the first president of the 21st Century.  The president, vice-president, treasurer, and executive secretary were elected by the 165 delegates present at the Sunday afternoon's election meeting.  As always, the real campaigning took place within 72 hours prior to the elections.  Indeed it is during these behind-the-scene meetings and feuds that the future presidents and vice-presidents are determined.  No one had more difficulty swallowing this bitter truth than the most promising candidate at these elections - Mr. Carlo Ganjeh from California.

Zinda Magazine was informed by reliable sources that at the eleventh hour, Mr. Carlo Ganjeh was told that he no longer was Zowaa or AUA's favorite to cherish the position of presidency.  The most important political fight of his life had practically come to an abrupt end without even a single vote cast.  Mr. Ganjeh, however, decided to continue his candidacy and met his challenge on the floor of the AANF election meeting on Sunday.  His challenger, Mr. Atour Golani as expected received a substantial number of the votes from the local organizations in Chicagoland and Detroit.   Each affiliate of the AANF has equal number of votes, up to five, independent of the number of their organization's total membership.  Therefore, the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock cast as many votes as did some other organizations whose only claim to existence is a postal office address in Chicago.  Mr. Ganjeh earlier had boasted that he could deliver the Chicago votes and could easily deny other candidates’ victory.  However, his “platform” – a first of its kind in the Assyrian-American politics – was no match for the powerful political machine of the Chicago-Detroit region that accounts for over 50 percent of all votes cast.

Mr. Ganjeh’s defeat confirmed the apprehension of the non-Chicago delegations that no serious challenge to the Mid-Western Block can be exhibited at the AANF elections.  In fact, in some circles there are now serious discussions revolving around secession from this 67-year-old organization.  Some civic leaders find no other option left to challenge the outdated policies of the “Chicago Boys” but to found a new national organization that is a true representation of the Assyrian communities, particularly women and the youth.  It must be noted that the combined revenue generated from the Assyrian organizations in California alone surpass the total income produced by all other affiliates of the AANF.  Both AUA and ADM (Zowaa) also receive the majority of their financial support from the Assyrian organizations west of the Mississippi River.

The election results were revealed to the public at the Banquet Dinner on Sunday evening.  The speeches at this year's gala were greater in number, longer in duration, and less exciting than any previous years.  The first dance of the evening was enjoyed only shortly before midnight by which time many guests had already left their tables and were dancing with the younger crowd upstairs.

Mr. Golani's acceptance speech was quite mundane and devoid of any passion and excitement.   This was certainly not anywhere close to the long forgotten oratories of David Perley and Malcolm Karam. Golani, his voice trembling at times, failed to define an action plan for the first term of his presidency. He is an honest man, and not a politician; rather someone who gets the job done. And that is precisely what his Detroit friend and Chicago observers want him to accomplish until the next election. On Sunday Golani was handed the difficult task of bringing the two federations closer than ever and save the aged AANF from a break-up in the coming months.

Moments after Golani's final words,  Mr. Sam Yono, President of the Chaldean Federation of America, stood up and injected himself into the limelight that was shining dimly on Mr. Atour Golani.  Looming over Golani’s small stature, Yono’s general message was clear:  “The Chaldean Federation is behind Mr. Golani, a resident of Detroit, and fully supports his election.”  The crowd while chewing the last bites of their belated dinner applauded with high intensity.

The future of the AANF as we know it is probably going to be the most important issue facing Mr. Golani.  The concerns of the unhappy delegations outside the Chicagoland must not be underestimated by the newly-elected president and his Executive Committee.  Another controversial issue is the closely-watched confluence of the two Federations.  The question that many were asking at the Monday picnic was whether Mr. Golani’s election was the first step toward the emergence of a Chaldean-Assyrian American National Federation prior to the 2004 elections.  Mr. Golani is the son-in-law of Mr. Aprim Rayis, the former Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and a noted Assyrian-Chaldean political figure.  His choice was certainly an important move toward the "Chaldeanization" of the Assyrian politics in the United States.  Mr. Golani's most important task will be to reduce the tension building among the AANF affiliates due to the Census 2000 issue and the Chicago-centric politics of his stagnant national organization. It will be wise for Mr. Golani to begin the process of damage control in the west by appointing Mr. Ganjeh as the AANF Western Regional Director and pay a visit to his disgruntled constituents in California and other non-Chicago based affiliates.

The convention in Chicago once again proved to us that we are living in the most exciting times of our modern history. There is a resurgence of interest in the Assyrian culture and history, a desire for closer unity among diverse ethnic and religious groups, and greater involvement of the Generation X'ers in the social and educational activities. What is missing is this same group's interest in moving into the political arena of Assyrian national and international politics. Based on this assumption, the graying dinosaurs that have firmly held to their post in the AANF leadership continue to bask in their short-lived self-appointments.

By Monday night the unexpectedly warm Chicago weather had cooled off, as had the libido of hundreds of Assyrian youth.  Elsewhere, the future leaders of the Assyrian nation, unabashedly disinterested in the politics of the AANF and invisible to a majority of the AANF delegation, grabbed their PalmPilots, laptops, and lecture notes and slowly drove away from the corner of Balbo and Michigan Avenue.  Speaking on their Nokia cell phones, they were already making plans for the next trip to the 2001 convention in San Jose, California.

Zinda Magazine

To View the photos taken at the Convention: click here



Courtesy of Kurdish Observer: August 28, 2000

The Assyrians in Turkey have given a report to the President, Prime Minister and other officials for education in their language. The report which was prepared by the Assyrian Community argued that education in primary, secondary and high schools should be in Assyrian. There are 7 items in the report and it asks for the rights of Assyrians to be put under constitutional protection.
The Christian Assyrian Community pointed the difficulties that the Assyrian community have been facing in Turkey. The community sent letters to the President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit with signatures of Deyrulumur Minister Samuel Aktas and the Minister of Istanbul and Ankara Yusuf Cetin. The report pointed that Assyrians leave the country because of the oppression. “Assyrians leave the country for Europe because they can not practice their language, religion and culture” concluded the report. The report further concluded, “Turkey’s cultural mosaic should be allowed to get lost”. In addition, the report clarified the concept of minority rights and said, “As Turkey’s Assyrian Community, we have expectations from Republic of Turkey in regard to law and human rights.”

The report asked for education in Assyrian starting from primary schools to high schools. It also asked for removal of obstacles in front of broadcasting and publishing in Assyrian.  Turkey should also give the rights

Isa Cicek, the Minister for Middle European Assyrians, who have been in Turkey for last couple of days with a group of 60 Assyrians and visiting Assyrian monasteries and residential areas, said that Turkey should give the rights that Europe already have recognized. Cicek said, “Recognized rights should be put under state's protection. Cultural and social rights of the Assyrians in Europe have been put under states’ protection. For example, The Netherlands have recognized this right for us. The government allow us to get education and practice our religion in our mother tongue. Unfortunately, Turkey have not recognized these rights.”


(ZNDA:  Prague)  According to a September 1 report of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty the Kurdish National Congress (KNK) has called for the establishment of a national federation in the Middle East and has offered itself as a representative of the Kurdish, Assyrians, Chaldean, and Turkomans people.  KNK promises to take steps against Saddam’s Arabization policy.  KNK has also asked Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan to assist the uprooted people in northern Iraq to safely return to their homes.


Report from the Turkish Daily News; August 25, 2000

(ZNDA:  Ankara)  A  60-strong  group of Suryoyo-Assyrian residents in Holland are to travel to southeastern Turkey to tour the monasteries and other holy sites in the region. Metropolitan Isa  Cicek  said  he  had  left  the  region  in  1978  as part of his religious obligations  and  first  returned  about three years ago. He stated how much the region  has  changed  in  the  last three years in that it has become noticeably safer.  He  praised  Turkey's  natural  beauty  but  expressed his wished to see religious and cultural rights recognized in Turkey as they are in Europe.



(ZNDA: Turlock)  On Sunday, August 13, Bashir Saadi, a prominent member of the Assyrian Democratic Organization engages a small group of California's Central Valley residents in a discussion on the history of the ADO and its current activities.  Mr. Saadi, born in Syria, was a representative of the Syrian Parliament between 1994 and 1998.  In 1999 he, along with four other Assyrians were arrested for aiding the Assyrian villages by drilling water wells in areas affected by drought and Khabour River's reduced water levels.  Through the efforts of local groups and outside pressure Mr. Saadi and his colleagues were freed from their prison in Damascus.

Mr. Saadi briefly reviewed the history of ADO since its inception in 1957 in Qameshli, Syria by a few Assyrian young followers of Malfono Naom Faiq and his contemporary Assyrian nationalists.  He noted that there remain only 2400 Assyrians in Turkey.  "Our lands must be returned to us in Turkey", said Mr. Saadi and explained the importance of pressuring the European countries in asking Turkey to recognize its Assyrian population in the Tur-Abdin areas.  "You must work together in bringing greater recognition of the 1915 Genocide by the Turkish government against our Assyrian people and Turkey must be brought to justice for its acts against humanity," noted Mr. Saadi.  Turkey has already been accepted as a non-official member of the European Union and is on its way to full recognition by 2004.

On the condition of the Assyrians in Syria, Mr. Saadi explained that Assyrians and the Syriac-speaking groups that do not recognize themselves as Assyrian are identified by their religious affiliation and not ethnic identity.  "There is religious freedom in Syria for all Christians and each church manages its own activities," explained Mr. Saadi.  He continued: "Our people support the new President, Bashar Assad.  He's educated and very open-minded.  We expect that he will open our economy and allow greater political freedom."
At the end of his lecture, Mr. Saadi reminded his audience that such issues as inadequate water in the Assyrian villages and lack of funds to assist Assyrian students in Syria are daily realities in Syria.

The 43rd Anniversary Celebration of the ADO was held in the Gardens Motor Inn in Turlock and was also attended by Mrs. Irene Warda, ADO Representative in California; Mr. Andreous Yonan, Assyrian Aid Society- Modesto Chapter; Mr. Charles Evans, Assyrian American National Federation representative in California; and Mr. Lazar Piro for the newly-formed "alliance" of the 16 Assyrian religious, cultural, and political organizations in the Central Valley.  Mr. Esha Warda was the master of the ceremony.

Through the generosity of the individuals present and other concerned Assyrians elsewhere, a few thousand dollars were collected after Mr. Saadi's talk to assist the 47 students with their school tuition and related costs.  Zinda Magazine contributed $500.00 toward the education fund set for these Assyrian students in Syria.


(ZNDA:  Sydney)  The Church of the East- Diocese of Australia and New Zealand lay the foundation stone of St. Hermizd Assyrian Primary School on 20 August.  The school bell for the first class at St. Hermizd is expected to ring during the academic year 2002.  Plans for four classes, two Kindergarten and two first-grade, are underway for a maximum number of 26 students per class.  By 2007 St. Hermizd Primary School will admit as many as 364 students in grades Kindergarten through six.  The school curriculum will include Assyrian language and culture in addition to the regular materials required by local school boards.  The Diocese of Australia and New Zealand is managed by His Grade Bishop Mar Melis Zaia.

I have good news. My attempts were successful. This year the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia gave two places at Yerevan Universities to Assyrian students without competition. These students will be studying Arabic  and Aramaic languages and about the Assyrian history. We can prepare specialists on the Assyrian language for primary Assyrian schools of Armenia. In this way the Armenian Government supports us so I can continue our educational program of saving and developing the Assyrian language in Armenia.  WE NEED TEXTBOOKS OF ASSYRIAN LANGUAGE, HISTORY AND SO ON.

I am looking forward to hear from you.

Irina Sagradova-Gasparyan

I read in Zinda’s August 24, 2000 issue the interventions delivered by Miss Suzy David during the year 2000 sessions of the Working Group on the Indigenous Populations. I admire Miss David’s labor of love for the Assyrian people. Yet, how can one have any credibility when one’s opening statement is making a claim that is utterly false? I’d like to know when and how the Assyrian people elected Miss David to serve “as a representative of the Assyrian people”?

The capital sin of Miss David and others at the organization she represents is their irresponsible act of self-appointing themselves as the representatives of the Assyrian people. Instead, they should work on creating the process through which the Assyrian people can elect a legitimate, representative national body. Only such a body can draw the respect and support of the Assyrian people. And It is only with the support of the Assyrian people that we can insure our survival.

Ramin Daniels

I would like to know if anyone is interested in a project to build a church for our community. In the area of Los Angeles-either in Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, (Beverly Hills-land per sq.ft/ is too expensive), Culver City area.  I have noticed that the Jewish inhabitants of southern California do the right thing by their community-almost every other block of a street they either have a prayer building (they call it a ‘Temple’) or they are in the process of buying land and/or converting a rentable place for their worship.

In Culver City the Muslims got together purchased the lot and built a beautiful cobalt and turquoise Mosque for their temple of worship. (Of course it does help to have an Saudi give a handsome donation). They did right by their community
to provide a prayer building.

It would be the appropriate action to do the same and build a church in the similar area(s). There is a lot of Pontian Greeks, Armenians (they mostly reside in Glendale), and Assyrians. Some are up north-some in other states-granted.   The Greek community in Los Angeles is ignorant of the Pontian Greeks and their tragic heritage. They have a vague knowing, but mainstream Greeks and Greek-Americans know little to nothing. They are uncomfortable as they do not know how to relate to the Greeks who are not, in some quarters, considered ‘Greek enough.’

One woman, she is in her sixties, is residing Los Angeles,  She is from a village in mainland Greece. Whenever her son Ioanne invites a friend into their home, his mother is standing at the top of the stairway, loudly asking  in her broken English: “Is she/he Greek!?”
She is like many others who do not consider the “Turkish” Greeks to be “quite Greek enough” to be considered Greeks. There seems a strange unspoken form within the Greek and Greek-American community here. One which is sad and due to either ignorance or misplaced nationalism. (There is no reason for a view of:  “it’s us v. them”...I thought we were all Greek Christians.....).

When the Ottoman Empire grew in strength, the links between the Greeks of Greece and those from the (Byzantine) Turkish land were severed. The inhabitants grew up in harsh conditions where it is stated 80% or so of the population is Muslim!

Clinging fiercely to their old traditions as desperately as the Old Believers do in Homer, Alaska, (Russian Orthodox who divided under the Church leadership of Patriarch Nikon). They cling to the traditions and saints, holidays from a time when the two main state languages were Greek and for foreign business Latin.  They hand down village stories of incidents which are long forgotten to the mainlanders across to the north. The inhabitants cook a meal, sing a song, pray with a unique chanting which is not heard in style in an American mainstream Greek Church.

The chanting mentioned by Thea Halo of her father when he prayed is unique to the Assyrian peoples and yes, similar to that which is also utilized by the Muslims in their prayers. (The book, Not Even My Name).   There is a special need to cater to the Pontian Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians of this side of town. With a priest for each of these. It is possible to burrow one church and all share it during times. But the issue here is : to do something for our communities.

The mainstream Greeks can not be expected to be responsible for our community. Once, twice, to help out is fine. We need to have our own priests, staff, and community people. When we have funerals, births, marriages-we need our own culture to be kept in place.
Let me know how to go about asking the community through Zinda of anyone interested to meet to discuss this project. I feel deeply for our community and realize we can not impose on others-our brothers-to always be there to assist us. We need our own Holy Church.

We need to raise funds to have ready for the less fortunate who have difficulty in burials of loved ones. We have to partake of managed projects to make sure the elderly in our communities have food to eat. Relations to be comforted in stressful times. We must do it ourselves. It is a shame to stand by and do nothing. It is not only a Christian sin-but it is a sin against fellow man.

I feel very deeply about these topics and especially assistance programs for the elderly.   Let me know of any suggestions you might have.

Thanking you in advance.

Elisabeth Marie di Isauria





Through this letter we extend to you our invitation to the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Cultural Festival.  The festival will take place on the September 16, 2000 at the "Expo Center" in Hengelo, Netherlands.

This event will be visited by approximately five thousand persons and is dedicated to the culture and tradition of the oldest people of Mesopotamia.  Various aspects of the culture such as folklore, music, choirs, paintings, traditional clothes and products, books, and other facets of our culture will be on display for public viewing.

We are looking forward to welcoming you on this festive day of September at the "Expo Center" of Hengelo.

Fikri Aho & Attiya Gamri
Bethnahrin Information Bureau (BIB)


Written by Chris Singer for the Detroit News;  August 30, 2000

Asaad Yousif Kalasho is founder and president of the Community Educational Center on Woodward near Seven Mile in Chaldean Town. Kalasho recently returned from a humanitarian mission to the Chaldean villages in northern Iraq where he delivered medicine and clothing that was collected in Metro Detroit. He, along with Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, and two peace groups are preparing for a visit from a Chaldean Catholic bishop who is expected to arrive from Iraq today. Kalasho agreed to be interviewed by On Detroit reporter Chris Singer about his trip to Iraq.

Q. Who is the bishop you’re expecting?
A. Bishop Gabriel Kassab is in charge of the diocese in southern Iraq. He is coming to lecture the American people on the effect of the (UN-imposed) sanctions.

Q. Did you visit the Chaldean villages?
A. I was there for 18 days. I did visit the Chaldean villages, but I visited other villages also. It was strictly a humanitarian visit.

Q. Were you born here or in the old country?
A. The old country. I came to the United States in 1978. I still have family there. And friends also.

Q. What is it like in Iraq?
A. Well, you have a country where their distribution of goods and medicine has to go through 50 channels. And it takes six months to a year to get anything, if you ever get it. Everything has to go through the United Nations and all the bureaucracy that represents. You cannot support a nation of 22 million this way.  The hospitals in Iraq lack machinery and medicine when it’s needed, especially for the newborns, who are skinny anyway, because their moms are malnourished. And, because of the uranium, many are born missing eyes, noses. Situations like that have tripled since the sanctions.

Q. Uranium? Are you saying the U.S. used nuclear weapons?
A. No. No. Not nuclear weapons. There was uranium in the bombs. During the war, 1991. There are scientific studies from the United Nations about the use of uranium, especially in the south.

Q. You mean the Garden of Eden, the delta (marshland between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, said to have been the location of Paradise)?
A. Yes. Where the Shiites are. The people we were supposed to protect. Two days ago, a baby was born with no eyes and no nose, just a hole in the forehead for a mouth. I do love this country. I will fight for this country. But not like this.

Q. Can you give me a specific example of something you saw with your own eyes and heard with your own ears?
A. A lady needed oxygen in the hospital. And the doctor said, “we’re waiting for another lady to die and you can have that.”

Q. Did you see or hear anything about the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” the United States claims Sadaam is producing or experimenting with?
A. Scott Ritter from the United Nations said in 1994 that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction. In 1998, Iraq was bombed because Scott Ritter said Iraq is not cooperating. What is there to cooperate with if Iraq is free of such weapons?  You have to distinguish between the face of 22 million people and the face of the Iraqi government, because you see that same face elsewhere in the Middle East, in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Q. What about the water in Iraq? We bombed the pumping stations (during the Persian Gulf war) and replacement parts are included in the sanctions.
A. The United Nations says one cup of water out of three is contaminated. Cholera or Typhoid E. could destroy the population.

Q. Do you have any estimate of how many have died as a direct result of the sanctions?
A. The United Nations records say at least 1.2 million people have died. We, as Americans, are better people than we look like in the Middle East.

Q. Are we growing a whole generation of terrorists?
A. We cannot afford to make enemies of babies. Those kids are going to grow up to hate us.

Q. In the United States we occasionally hear allegations that bombing runs are still being made .
A. Four days ago, they bombed two houses in the city of Semawa and a food storage that belonged to the United Nations.

Q. We haven't heard much from either presidential candidate about foreign policy. All the talk has been domestic policy. What would you like to hear from George W. Bush or Al Gore?
A. I do understand why they're not talking about foreign policy. Because the peace process between Israel and Palestine is still going on.

One might tell you we’re prosperous and strong, but it’s not true. The foreign policy weave had in the last 10 years is a failure. Sadaam Hussein is stronger than ever.  I spoke to President Clinton myself last night for about five minutes. Debbie Stabenow introduced me. I've met him about five times. He hugged me and he told me, “I promise you I will do something before I leave office.”


Videos of Assyria

A collection of Assyrian music videos, required RealAudio

Thea Halo's Interview on KPFA FM in Berkeley
Requires RealPlayer plug-in

Interviews & links to news sources

WawAllap Assyrian Merchandise
Not at the Convention Anymore!  Find and buy everything with a click of a mouse
* Free shipping for all products ordered in September 2000 *



A Lecture by Prof. Mordechai Nisan presented on 15 April 1997
Courtesy of Mideast Newswire

At the invitation of Florida Atlantic University, Hebrew University Professor Mordechai Nisan delivered the Ziad Abdelnour Middle East Lecture titled “Israel and Middle-East Minorities, Friends or Foes,” on April 10. Nisan, an international authority on Middle East and Israeli affairs, is the author of “Middle East Minorities: A History of Self Expression.” (MacFarland, 1991). The event, organized by the Department of Political Science of FAU, was sponsored by the Ziad Abdelnour Middle East Lecture, an initiative by a New York-based Lebanese-American businessman. Abdelnour, who headed the Arab Bankers Association of North America, has pledged in his letter sent to the event, to “participate in all efforts leading to the emancipation of the Middle East Christians.”
After an introduction by Dean James Malek, dean of the Schmidt College of  Arts and Humanities, Dr Walid Phares, Professor of Political Science, presented the event and the speaker to an audience estimated at around 500 (local press estimate). Phares, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, said “this event is academically unique and intellectually exclusive. For the dominant debate in Middle Eastern Studies has for longtime excluded the study of the region's minorities for political reasons. It is the duty of scholars to shed light on the least studied subjects, particularly if they affect the lives of not only individuals but entire communities.” Phares said “we don't hear much, we donut read much, we don't learn much about this missing part of Middle Eastern reality. In the wake of the Cold War, and in a region which fate is yet undecided between the Arab-Israeli Peace Process and the surge of Islamic Fundamentalism, millions of individuals belonging to ethnic minorities are struggling for their future. Mordechai Nisan is among the very few scholars who dedicated their research to the subject of Middle East minority peoples.”

Addressing the topic, Professor Nisan painted first a different picture of the Middle east. “The region has three main majorities, and a multitude of small peoples. The Arab Moslems, the Iranian Moslems, and the Turkish Moslems. The Jews, a minority in the past are now a majority in their own national homeland. The small peoples are those who do not enjoy a national homeland such as the Kurds, Berbers, Copts, or whose country was dominated by a neighboring power such as the Maronites of Lebanon.” Nisan first addressed the Christian minorities. “The largest minority are the Copts of Egypt,” which he estimated at around 10 million. “They are persecuted on religious, political, and economic levels. They are dispersed all over Egypt and particularly targeted by Moslem Fundamentalists.” The next most active one are the Maronites of Lebanon, today under Syrian occupation and Islamic domination. Their country was abandoned by the West to the Arab Islamics and as result of it they were military invaded in 1990. In southern Sudan, millions of Black Africans, Christians and Animists, are under oppression by the Islamic Arab north. In Northern Iraq the Christian Assyrians are persecuted and are emigrating towards the West.”

Answering the question about the relationship of these Christian minorities with Israel, Nisan said “the reasons why Christians would be the foes of the Jewish state are there. First because of religious influence. Christians, particularly in the West have persecuted Jews. Another reason in the Middle East would be the deep Arab Islamic influence and the linguistic attachment of these Christians to Arab culture. But there are more reasons why Christians feel they are the allies of Israel. One is that both Christians and Jews are considered as second class citizens by Islam. Two, is that state of Israel is the dream for many non Moslem minorities looking towards independence. Three is that Christian peoples are today oppressed by Arab Moslem regimes, the same regimes which are seeking the destruction of Israel. All of the above mentioned realities makes the alliance between Israel and the Christian minorities a must.

Moving to the Moslem non-Arab minorities Nisan addressed first the case of the Kurds. “They are the largest nationality in the world without a state.  Eighteen million Kurds live in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and the diaspora. Although Moslems, the Kurds were denied the right to statehood by Arabs, Iranians and Turks.” Then comes the Berbers of North Africa who numbers about eight millions. After having been defeated by the Arabs and Islamized, the Berbers are submitted to cultural suppression.” Two other minorities were also discussed by Nisan: The Druzes who live in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. And the Alawites who, despite not exceeding 8% of the population,  rule Syria since 1970. Professor Nisan then discussed the Israeli involvement with these minorities.
“The Palestinians, who are portrayed as a national minority inside Israel have obstructed and opposed the rights to other oppressed minorities. In Lebanon the massacred the Christians. In Iraq, they supported Saddam Hussein regime against Kurdish rights. In Sudan, they endorsed the Islamist regime against the Black revolt of the south. Israel in contrast has deployed number of efforts in the past decades to assist these minorities. Support was extended to the Kurds in northern Iraq until 1975. In the sixties and seventies, Israeli assistance was provided to the southern Sudanese. Finally, since 1977 Israel has supplied the Christians of Lebanon, particularly in the south, with multiple type of support. Not all of these initiatives were successful, but the channels between Israel and Middle-East minorities were established.”

Nisan concluded that in light of the ongoing attempts by the Arab world to annihilate Israel, or to weaken it, it is all the more natural that the Jewish state should seek the establishment of solid bridges with the small peoples, starting with the closest geographically and the most evident politically, i.e. the Christians
of Lebanon.

Professor Nisan is the author of "Toward a New Israel : The Jewish State and the Arab Question", "Identity and Civilization : Essays on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam", & "Minorities in the Middle East : A History of Struggle and self-expression".



We are often asked about the political affiliation of the Assyrian Aid Society.  We wish to confirm that the AAS limits its activities to charitable and humanitarian pursuits and does not enter into politics at any level.

This in no way precludes AAS members from holding special political convictions and/or affiliations.  However, the AAS itself has not, and does not align or affiliate itself with any political group, domestic or international.  In that respect, we call on all Assyrian women and men in the U.S. without distinction, to the work of the AAS to aid and support out people in need.

The AAS is aware that the help it lends to our people in North Iraq is not realized in a vacuum.  We know well that our people in North Iraq are active politically and that the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) is leading this nation in its struggle.  It is common knowledge that much of what our people have been able to achieve has been due to the success of the nationalist struggle.  How else would we be able to have a government sanctioned charitable organization such as the Assyrian Aid society of Iraq (AASI), to be able to rebuild our villages, churches, and school; to be able to establish Assyrian cultural centers and mass organizations and to teach our language in public schools?

Therefore, it is not surprising to know that the AAS has a close working relationship with Zowaa, as do all other Assyrian entities - be they village councils, schools, cultural centers or mass organizations.  To all of them this cooperation is a necessity because Zowaa is recognized as the representative of the Assyrian people in that area by our people, by the local authorities and by international forces in the area..

We are encouraged that there is an Assyrian entity that can open doors for our people to organize themselves and for us it is the diaspora to find partners such as the AAS to collaborate with, towards fulfillment of our aims and objectives.

Taking advantage of these opportunities opened by the fact that our sister organization has a close working relationship with Zowaa does not in any way tie the AAS politically to Zowaa, or diminish its status as a non-political charitable organization.  Nor does our taking advantage of U.S. laws to organize and operate in this country tie us in any way to the U.S. government or its political institutions.

The fact remains that the AAS has an independent Board of Directors that sets the policies and agendas of the organization without affiliation or direction from any political group.

How the AAS of America has Put Contributions to Work in North Iraq
Cash Grant
Medical Aid       
Rebuilding Villages      
Water Projects
School Buses              
Children's Arts              
Computer Labs              
Childcare Center              

AAS of America
30 Berkeley Park Blvd.

Berkeley, CA 94707



This week's vocabulary courtesy of Nakosha magazine: click here


BC (126)

The Parthians, an Iranian people, dominate Mesopotamia until they are dispossessed by another Iranian dynasty - the Sasanians (or Sasanids) in AD 227.  The Parthians called their dynasty Arsacid.

Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia,  Black and Green

AD (1992)

Danny P. Jackson's English verse rendition of the Epic of Gilgamesh goes to print.  The book is quickly praised by the Near East scholars.  The book also includes eighteen color illustrations by Thom Kapheim.


September 15, 1916:   The first issue of the "New Assyrian" magazine is published in Jersey City, New Jersey under the direction of Mr. Charles Dartley.

Zinda Stands Corrected!  In our previous issues the Nineveh Choir was listed to perform on September 4.  Please note that Maestro Issabey will be conducting his talented group of singers and musicians on September 16 at 8:00 PM in Santa Clara, California.  This year's program will consist of both choral and instrumental pieces performed by local Assyrian talents.

Sep 16

Conducted by Maestro Nebu Issabey
Presented by the Assyrian American Association of San Jose

8:00 PM
Santa Clara Convention Center Theater
5001 Great America Parkway
Donation:  $20.00 
No tickets will be available at the door

For ticket information:
Nancy Isaac        408-229-2100    Josephine Molhem  408-323-1816
John Khangaldy   408-723-4726   Ramina Ziyeh          408-448-6225
Jackie Yelda        415-664-5825

Oct 22

Mar Narsai Parish - Church of the East
Organized by the Daughters of the Church
Location:  to be determined

Oct 27-31

3RD Annual Meeting of the Assyrian & Babylonian Intellectual Heritage
Radisson Chicago
Contact:  Dr. Norman Solhkhah at 847-699-9000

Jul 2-6

International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology 
"Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East"
University of Helsinki

Registration Form:  click here

 Thank You!

Petr Kubalek (Czech Republic)........Marin David (California)



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