Z I N D A  M A G A Z I N E
Kanoon II  9, 6750                     Volume VI                      Issues 35             January 9, 2001
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TH I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
TheLighthouse The Sureth-Speaking Villages in Eastern Turkey
GoodMorning Bet-Nahrain AUA Secretary Discusses Improvements in Iran
Death Penalty for Christian Missionaries in Afghanistan
News Digest Bush Nominates Lebanese Christian as Energy Secretary
SurfsUp "most likely knows nothing about our history"
Reflectionson Assyria How Christianity Saved Us...Or Would You Be Interested in Buying a Bridge?
Literatus Thanks Are Ever Due To God!
Bravo! Chicago Assyrian Couple First To Receive Marriage License
AssyrianSurfing Posts Aramaic Lexicon
PumpUp the Volume Mark & Sign
Backto the Future Calah and the Siege of Nisibin
ThisWeek in History Mar Yokhana of Gavilan
Calendar ofEvents January 2001

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



I shall deal with some Aramaic-speaking villages located in Eastern Turkey that I have personally visited on several occasions. One of the reasons for the choice of this subjects that the very existence of these villages is barely known to the outside world. The best documented Aramaic-speaking population in Turkey is that of Tur Abdin, the hilly area of the north-east of Mardin, surrounding the small city of Midiad. In Tur Abdin, the people speak a rather specific dialect of Aramaic called Turoyo, and they are followers of the Jacobite Church, i.e., the West Syrian Church. The villages we shall consider are located at a short distance to the east of Tur Abdin, on the other bank of the Tigris, in the vicinity of the Hakkari mountains. Linguistically, these villages speak Sureth, the major and most common surviving dialect of Neo-Aramaic. Religiously, they belong to the Chaldean Church which was originally apart of the Eastern Syriac Church that split to align itself with the Roman Catholic Church.

As indicated above, the existence of some thousands of Sureth-speakers within the borders of modern Turkey is a fact hardly known to people. The general feeling is that all of the Sureth-speaking population of Turkey migrated to Iran and then to Iraq during the First World War. It is therefore pertinent to point out that this migration concerned only the so-called Assyrian “Tribes”, the followers of Mar Shimun, whose territory was situated to the eat of our villages. The villagers under consideration were not followers of Mar Shimun; moreover, they were not independent like the tribes (Ashiret). Instead, they were Rayats, subject to the power of certain Kurdish chieftains. Thanks to the protection of their landlords, they were spared from the massacres of the War, and they were able to maintain themselves in the area.

In fact, up to very recently, Eastern Turkey was the only place where it was possible to observe Sureth-speaking mountaineers leading their traditional life. This situation is rapidly changing since most of them are involved in a process of some migration to France, where they settle in the northern suburbs of Paris. It is presumed that very few of them will stay in their native homeland any longer.

Location of the Villages. The first village, Artvan, is relatively isolated from the rest; it is situated some kilometers east of Si’irt, the Arabic-speaking city of the upper Euphrates. The dialect of this village was the subject of a publication by Otto Jastrow in 1971 in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft. The other villages are located to the east of the city of Djezire on the Tigris and are very close to the intersection of the borders of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

A first group is to the southeast, where the villages occupy different places along the road from Djezire to Zakho (Iraq), with Hassana in the plain, Bespina on the hillside, and Harbol on the other side of the pass. A second group -- including Deran, Djennet, and Birinji -- is found to the northeast, along the road from Djezire to Sirnak. Further east, on the main road to Hakkari, one finds Eshshi and Baznayeh, situated on the slopes above Shabona. A third group, Mehre, is located in the high pastures overlooking Eshshi, and it is reached in ten hours by foot. The last village, Gaznakh, is located further east, and some 15 kilometers to the west of Beytishabab..

Description of the Villages To give an idea of the main features of these villages, I shall select two of them, namely Harbol and Eshshi.

They layout for Harbol is semi-circular. It rests on the mountain slope, opening to the south at a very short distance from the border of Iraq. At night, the lights of Zakho are seen from terraces of the houses. It is an extremely beautiful village with an elaborate street pattern. The houses are built from dry stones. They have flat-terraced roofs supported by beams of poplars, used for sleeping during the summer. The houses are very close to each other, and it is often convenient to move from house to house by the roof rather than by using the narrow lanes.

The main church was recently destroyed and replaced with a cube in concrete with nothing remarkable about it. However, a small church dedicated to Bne Shmuni has survived the tendency toward modernization. This church, which has a plain structure of dry stones, lies at the outskirts of the village and is surrounded by a cemetery in a walnut orchard. It is oriented to the south, and it has two gates that open on a plain courtyard to the west. Incidentally, the north gate is for women and the south gate is for men. Except for two plain crosses engraved on the lintel of the gates, the church has no specific decoration.

Harbol is in close proximity to a coal-mine which is intensively exploited. Consequently, it is easy to reach the village, since many trucks come to the mine from Djezire. The road reaches the gardens of the village, but does not enter it. In fact, the village and the mine are two distinct, autonomous worlds, which co-exist in immediate vicinity to each other. The mine will in the end be the cause for the demise of the village. In fact, there are plans to relocate the village in the western region of Turkey. It is likely that Harbol no longer exists.

Eshshi sits on the banks of a steep valley dominated by huge cliffs. It is not as compact as Harbol. Though its houses are similar to those in Harbol, they are more detached. At the foot of the village runs a stream which operates two mills. The stream is crossed on a single bridge. The path goes through the orchards and houses until it finally reaches the main square, where the priest's house and the church are located. The church is a massive building in dry stones, and the nave is a single arch oriented to the east, with light entering only from three openings in the rear wall. Unfortunately, the structure of the wall separating the altar from the nave has recently been modified in a less impressive manner. The nave contains no chairs or benches; the parishioners sit on the ground, with the women at the back, and the men near the altar.

Public facilities in both villages are either non-existent or very primitive. There are no roads, no electricity, no water system (other than the stream running through the village), and no sanitary conveniences. Most of the villagers are illiterate in their mother tongue. The priest teaches the Syriac alphabet only to some male children who are trained to become deacons. Recently, the two villages have been provided with governmental schools where teachers instruct the pupils in the Turkish language.

Dress, Food and Social Life The traditional dress of the villagers is similar to that of the neighboring Kurds. Men wear long cylindrical trousers, a shirt with narrow sleeves, and a waistcoast, all made of wool tinted with natural walnut color. A broad belt shelters a variety of objects: a knife, a watch, a gun, a tobacco set, etc. The head is covered with one or two kerchiefs worn int he Kurdish fashion, or with a republican cap, or with a combination of both. The old-fashioned shoes made of boarskin belong to the past due to the inconsistencies in modernization.

The women wear a blouse with long sleeves and a skirt above the trousers made of cotton fabrics. They generally cover their long hair with a white scarf and wear heavy earrings and a gold nail in the nose.

The day begins quite early with a breakfast consisting of bread -- basked either in the clay oven (tanura) or on a reversed iron pan (doqa) --, butter, honey, yogurt, white cheese, etc. For lunch and supper, more consistent food will be brought on a large tray with a central dish of rice, bulgur, or pasta, together with some boiled meat and vegetables. All the males present in the house, and occasionally some elderly women, will eat first; and then the women and the children take their turn. In fact, the community is marked with strong social stratification.

The women are continuously busy with various domestic chores; by contrast, the men get entangled in lengthy and, at times, endless discussions, while smoking handmade cigarettes and drinking several glasses of black tea. The villagers marry quite early -- males at age eighteen, and females at fifteen. Celibacy is considered eccentric; therefore, the village priest is expected to marry notwitstanding his allegiance to the Roman Catholic faith. Of course, the ideal family is one with the maximum number of children that a woman can bear.

Economic Activities The main business of the villagers is raising sheep and goats. In winter, the females are kept close to the village; towards the end of April, assuming climatic conditions allow it, almost the entire village will follow the flock to the high pastures where the animals mate and give birth. Each village, whether Christian or Moslem, has a designated summer territory (Zozan) located a few hours from the village. The summer months are spent in Zozani, sheltered under long black tents made of goat hair.

Most of the day, the men follow their flocks along perilous slopes. If they are too far from camp, they spend the night in the open, protected by their heavy felt coat. The role of the women is more substantial: They collect wood from the oak trees, milk the sheep and goats twice daily, and carry large chunks of snow on their backs to create artificial ponds. These ponds are the sole source of drinking water. In addition, the women handle the daily chores of cooking the food, baking the bread, and churning the milk in a goat skin to extract the butter and to make the cheese and yogurt.

In August, when the snow melts, the villagers return to the villages to hold the annual big bargain. They sell all the males of the flock in Djezire. For most of them, this is the only occasion of the year to have some cash. This is the time to buy necessities for survival through the long winter ahead. In particular, they buy tea, sugar, rice, and wheat which is either boiled into bulgur or ground into flour in the water mills.

Before stocking up their winter provisions, they shear the sheep and dye the wool. Then the women spin it even when they are relaxing. Inf act, one can hardly see a woman without her spinning top nearby. The girls sit at the corner of a roof or on a tree branch, in order to have sufficient height for the spindle to hang down and stretch the wool thread. When this is done, the weaving is left to the males; they spend most of their winter days in front of their primitive horizontal looms.

There are only a crops in the villages. They grow some fruits and vegetables, and they raise some poultry. Another substantial economic activity, profitable but very dangerous, is trading across the nearby border.

Emigration Until the end of the 1960's, these villages were naturally oriented toward the south. The border between Turkey and Iraq was purely an administrative line, with almost no effect on the life of the local people. They still remember the Jewish peddlers of Zakho who used to tour their villages before 1952. For them, the main city was Mosul, and they used to visit their relatives as far south as Baghdad, without holding any kind of legal documents. The first villager to go west was a young boy who was sent to Istanbul in the late 1950's for education in a French seminary. This was a total breakaway for him, as he was did not understand a word of French or Turkish.

Conditions have changed drastically in the last fifteen years, because the borders have become less permissive. Also, road was constructed between Djezire and Hakkari. With the sudden improvement of the transportation system in Turkey, it became easier to reach Istanbul than Mosul. Moreover, schools were constructed in the villages, and the Turkish language became familiar to the people.

The villages were obviously overpopulated, and it was natural that a significant number of their inhabitants left to seek their fortune in the cities. Some of them were not satisfied even with their life in Istanbul, and they went further west, settling in France, constituting there a community which increased every year. This opening to the west had a strong effect on the mind of the villagers. In the past two years, they decided collectively to leave their native homeland and to migrate "en masse" to France, which they manage to reach legally or otherwise. Today, only a few Christian families remain in the villages, and many of the houses are now occupied by local Kurds.

The explanation they offer for their migration is ideological. They claim they want to join the Christians. But they soon realize, much to their disappointment, that the French make no distinction between them and other Turkish migrants. Obviously, there were other reasons for their migration, both economical and political. Economically, life was getting more difficult in those mountains; politically, the Turkish military were tightening their grip on Turkish Kurdistan.

At the present, most of the villagers dwell in compact groups in lodgings in a rather depressing and unattractive industrial area, apparently without regret for their native mountains. Somehow, they find their way in French society. The young men work in the confectionery business, imitating the Turkish immigrants. The elderly remain idle. In fact, most men over the age of forty have no social role, and they depend upon their families for survival; they do not even try to learn French. Interestingly, the womenfolk seem to adapt better to the ambient society, and to learn the language faster, although they are confined to domestic jobs.

It is too early to note any deep change in the social structure of their colonies in the suburbs of Paris, which are an imitation of their native villages. Undoubtedly, certain changes will occur soon; changes that they did not foresee when they took the decision to move to the unknown world, with no hope of returning to their homeland. It is anticipated that these people, especially the younger generations and the oncoming generations, will soon learn or acquire the French language, and will adopt French culture, thus endangering their very existence as an ethnic group. Being only a small minority, without deep-seated awareness of their language and culture, will facilitate their early acculturation and assimilation.

Professor Bruno Poizat
Universite Pierre et Marie Curie

The above article appeared in the first issue of the Jouranl of Assyrian Academic Society (1985-86).  It is based on an address given by Professor BrunoPoizat on April 27, 1986, at a gathering of the Assyrian Academic Societyheld at Loyola University, Chicago.



(ZNDA:  San Jose)  On Sunday, the Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance for Asia, Mr. Yonathan Bet-Kolia, spoke at a special meeting of the AUA in San Jose, California to an estimated group of 200 attendees.  Bet-Kolia, also the Representative of the Assyrians in Iran's Parliament or Majlis,  has recently arrived from Iran and is meeting with other executive members of the AUA in the United States and Europe.  In his report to the audience gathered Sunday at the Church of the East Hall, Bet-Kolia explained that there are currently 10 Assyrian central committees or "Motwas" in Iran.  They are the central committees of Tehran, Karaj, Ahwaz, Kermanshah, Hamadan, Tabriz, Urmie, Qazvin, Shahinshahr, and the village of Ada.  Each committee is composed of several members of the regional cultural, religious, and social groups.  All activities pertaining to the Assyrian communities of that region are coordinated by the central committee of that region.  Bet-Kolia spoke favorably about the support offered by the Islamic government in Iran to the Assyrian population in that country.  He commented on such recent improvements as the government's recent decision to allow Assyrian schools be administered by Assyrian officials and principals.  A similar decree from the government now permits the building of new churches in Iran, a task previously proscribed by the hard-liners in the government.  "Among the many challenges facing the Assyrians in Iran is the unavailability of Assyrian teachers and administrators in Iran", said Bet-Kolia.  Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution the population of Assyrians in Iran has been reduced from 250,000 to less than 30,000, due to emigration to Europe and North America.

As for the economic improvements, Bet-Kolia noted that 24 lots have been purchased for the construction of affordable housing for the Assyrians families and a 30,000 square-meter land in Urmie is to be used in the construction of a sports stadium. 

Until now in case of an accident resulting in a fatality Assyrian families were compensated for a total amount of 300,000 Tumans (approximately 300 dollars); whereas, a Moslem citizen could receive as much as 6.1 million Tumans.  The government in Iran, Bet-Kolia explained, has in the past year reformed the "blood money" law for the Christians and an Assyrian family may be compensated up to 5.6 million Tumans.

Bet-Kolia also commented that Assyrian women were invited to participate as members of a Women's NGO (non-governmental organization) in Iran.  This organization will attend the Women's conferences around the globe and actively engage in the United Nation's discussions pertaining to the women's rights and socio-economic conditions.

Other officials of the AUA present at the Sunday meeting were Secretary General of the AUA, Senator John Nimrod; Mr. Homer Ashurian, Mr. Freydoun Darmo from England, and Ms. Suzy Davis from Australia.  Ms. Davis reported on the recent progress of the Human Rights Committee of the AUA.

Bishop Mar Bawai Soro of the Church of the East was also in attendance and praised the Assyrian Universal Alliance for taking necessary steps in defending the rights of the Assyrian people around the world. 


Courtesy of Fidas Vatican News Agency

(ZNDA:  Kabul)   From now on, anyone who converts to Christianity, preaches the gospel, or proselytizes in Afghanistan can be condemned to death. The decision was decreed by Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban movement, which over the past 4 years has imposed the "shariah" in virtually the entire Afghan territory. The "shariah" is Islamic law applied to civil society. The news was confirmed this week by Vatican Radio.

In addition, the measure provides for other punishments; for example, the proprietors of bookstores selling offensive books or sources for the propagation of "false beliefs," will be punished by 5 years of imprisonment. The harsh measures of the Taliban leader are justified by stating that they defend the country from alleged attempts of unidentified "enemies" of Islam, both within and without, who seek to "corrupt Muslims by offering them economic incentives if they convert to Christianity or Judaism."



(ZNDA:  Washington)   President-elect George W. Bush has nominated former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham as EnergySecretary.  Abraham was defeated in his November re-election bid by Democrat DebbieStabenow. He had voiced interest in the transportation job, but was interviewedfor the energy post. Sen. Abraham knows the issues of energy policy, and he understands theissues and challenges before us," Bush said. "He is ready to join us in seekingenergy security for the United States. National security depends on energysecurity."  Added Abraham, "I think it is a testament to the special place that Americais that a grandson of poor Lebanese immigrants can have the opportunity toserve in the Cabinet of the president of the United States." Abraham said.


Abraham, 48, served one term in the Senate before losing his contest with Stabenowthis past November. Prior to his six-year stint there, he worked as a deputychief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle when Bush's father, former PresidentGeorge Bush, occupied the White House. He also helped raise money for congressionalRepublicans in 1992 as an aide with the National Republican CongressionalCommittee.  His flagship issue as a senator was not energy policy but immigration,and he spent much of his time there seeking to expand opportunities for legalimmigrants to the United States.

But during his one term in Congress' upper chamber, Abraham co-sponsored legislation to eliminate the Energy Department. According to congressional records, Abraham backed a bill sponsored by Sen. Rod Grams -- the recently ousted Minnesota Republican -- to abolish the department, transfer most of its functions to the Department of the Interior, and create an Energy Programs Resolution Agency headed by an administrator.

His maternal grandfather came to America from Lebanon. He began as a peddlerand eventually opened his own grocery store. His paternal grandfather wasalso a Lebanese immigrant who worked in the West Virginia coalmines before seeking a better life in Michigan as an auto worker and grocery storeowner. Like his father before him, Spence's dad was an auto worker. He and his wife pursued the American Dream of owning their own business, a small shop indowntown Lansing.

Born in East Lansing, Spencer stayed in his hometownto attend college at Michigan State University.  As the first member of hisfamily with a college degree, Spencer went on to attend Harvard Law School,where he founded the Federalist Society and a conservative law journal. Atage 30, he became one of America's youngest and most successful RepublicanState Chairmen.


" I'm astonished to read in your magazine that true father of our nationalism, the greatest hero of our times, General Agha Petros was reviled in such a way by someone who most likely knows nothing about our history!  Where was the author of that article when Agha Petros rescued his grandparents and mine from the Turks and Moslems???   How quickly we forget... It's a shame that we judge the great deeds of the past by the empty feelings we have today."

R. Odishoo

Fred Parhad's


I've never been comfortable with the credit the church takes for having "saved" our people. I've never seen any evidence for it, quite the contrary, I believe that they all but put a contract out on our heads.

There we were, for a few hundred years before the advent of Islam, like the rest of that world; so demoralized by the excesses of the Romans, ,who'd managed to create a beautiful existence... for about five people, and supported it by the misery of thousands... there we were happily eating dust, a veritable Lazy Susan, our cheeks available for anyone to slap, squatting there, waiting for that nice Jewish carpenter to come back and take us all to heaven. Then Mohammed raised the cry of a vigorous, manly, new creed which swept out of Arabia and, to its credit adopting much of Persian refinement, as it rolled like thunder across our squatting grounds.

It is not true that people were forced to convert. The Prophet specifically forbade that, as did some wise Christian leaders later on. He placed a tax on non-Muslims and that induced many to switch, but seldom was the sword used in the early days. The Church has a very bad record here so I wouldn't get too bothered about this if I were you. I believe "infidels" were never given the choice of death or conversion and Jews were most definitely forced into Christianity, when they weren't killed outright... having their children robbed to boot. But then Catholics and Protestants stole each others children for forced conversion as well. It's all a sorry story. In the early days of Islam , Christians were allowed to squat in peace. They were allowed to visit their holy sites etc. There were restrictions on inter-marriage but what else is new.

When Europe descended on the East, on that piratical raid called the Crusades (raping Constantinople, a Christian land along the way and committing depredations even the Moslem would be hard pressed to match) the world there changed for good. The local Christian population made the first of the many bonehead decisions they've made time and again since and caught the hell for it they well deserved. They supported and prayed for the invaders and made it plain to everyone that they were traitors to their fellow countrymen and neighbors and always would be.

After several Crusades and much bloodshed, the Moslems drove the Christian armies out and then, quite understandably, turned on the local Christian populations. You would have done it too.

Try to imagine a similar case but switch roles. Let's say there are Moslems living in the United States (there are). Let's say that Arabia could attack us here, on our soil and commit the kinds of brutalities the Crusaders did. Say they devastated Chicago and San Francisco etc. killed and raped and burned and kidnapped Americans, all with the help and prayers of the local Moslem population. After a few hundred years they retired, leaving behind the indigenous Moslem community. Do you get the picture?

Or, let's say, All Assyrians in America became communists in the fifties. They ate, drank and breathed communist ideology and built temples of communism. They would have received just the treatment they deserved from this country's government and population. Would they cry out that they were being persecuted for being Assyrian, or for being Communists. If you were an American and turned "communist", you stopped being a "true" American.

Instead you were thought of and treated as a communist primarily, who cared what country you hailed from, or what ethnic group you were. And of course the Japanese found out how being an American wasn't enough when your native country declared war on your new country, even if your children had been born here, off to camp you and your potential little traitors went.

Assyrians who give the church credit for saving us always confuse and confound culture with religion. We would perhaps have become Muslim, but we could have retained our culture (Assyrian), as many of those who became Moslem did. People think, when they do it at all, that being Moslem is the same as being Arab, that those who adopted the religion HAD to take on the culture as well. Arabs come from Arabia. The other countries and peoples of the Mid East who converted to Islam retained their cultures. The Moslems of Indonesia and Mongolia and America are not "Arabs", they don't practice an "Arab" culture.

Had the Crusaders never come to the East, had western Christianity stayed out altogether, I don't believe the Moslems would ever have bothered Christians. No more than would be normal given human nature, but nothing like the rage which followed Christian treachery.

After the Crusades ANY Christians in the east were doomed. We were damned, not for being Assyrian, but for being Christian. It would have saved us then to have EMBRACED Islam, since we'd turned our backs on our own god long before and fidelity to our Christian one became an immense liability. But we were encouraged and praised for giving our neck and the necks of our children over to the executioner. Would anyone who loved his or her heritage OR children do such a thing. The history of martyrs is a dismal saga of unbalanced people trying to prove the loyalty they fear they don't really posses, having betrayed their faith once already. Our history since the Crusades has been one of increased hostility and diminishing numbers. We've been forced into the arms of the West, as the only place where it's safe for us to practice this religion. In the same way we've become part of the machine here which grinds up our homelands for oil to maintain itself. We're doubly traitors and what fate would you expect for us? What real sense of pride can we maintain? That's why all our "love" for our heritage and our political aspirations sound so hollow. We can't even muster up the will to create one school for our children. These are the understandable failings of people who are ashamed of themselves, not proud. It's false pride and false humility we revel in. We gave up the real article centuries ago.

I don't think anyone gives a good damn about Father Akbulut, not for his own sake that is. Our people are using his little predicament for their own agendas. How many secretly would prefer that Turkey make a harsh example out of him. It would revive the old martyr business and give people here any number of opportunities to thump and bellow. When this fellow apologizes and takes it all back, if he can, we'll all be thrilled at our "activism" and how we "saved" Akbulut. Big deal, it's not like there aren't plenty of priests and the Vatican turns out several each year. We completely miss the larger picture...that we tried to make a hero for ourselves out of rather weak stuff. Is this memory we carry around, tallying all our old horror stories, supposed to DO something for us? If it's so vital why is Akbulut recanting already? And what now. Sorry, forget the whole thing,or...seminars and declarations and pronouncements with the AUA leading one its famously feeble charges to the rear.

Every time our people talk about what we suffered for being Assyrian, they really should say what we suffered for being Christian. We'll never know if Islam had any argument with us as Assyrians. Since we brag about being among the first Christians and NEVER brag about being Assyrian (where it could do us some good), it's understandable that Saddam and others would try to change our heritage to a Moslem one...since we've changed it into a Christian one. We've done our heritage a great disservice by hiding it behind, and confusing it with Christianity. Assyrians say they never massacred, raped, kidnapped or burned and destroyed Moslem homes, yet look at how we were treated etc. etc. It's true, as Assyrians we never did those things, Either we were too small in numbers or it was a carry- over from our own, sophisticated, religion of Ashur. Because we KNOW the cruelty of the Christian West firsthand. Who, but a Christian nation, would starve the children of the people of a country whose leader it was in conflict with? Remember the babies tossed out of incubators by the Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait. Even if it was true, and congressional hearings proved it wasn't...are we to believe that America cares so much for a few Moslem babies, while it is well documented that hundreds and thousands of children MANY OF THEM CHRISTIAN AND MANY OF THOSE ASSYRIAN have died and will possibly die in greater numbers when Bush takes over. But you can't have it both ways. While Assyrians didn't do those things, their co-religionists certainly did, and on top of that these were foreigners to the land and still the local Christians backed them against their own neighbors.

What good did it do the Japanese Americans to say "we didn't bomb Pearl Harbor, we aren't your enemies". Even though they were citizens, many of them born here, just their association or appearance was enough to rob them of freedom and property.

When the crimes and depredations of Christianity are detailed, Assyrians say..."but we were Assyrians, why did they pick on us, we didn't do those things". When the coast is clear, they take credit and identify themselves as CHRISTIANS. When trouble comes they say..."Why pick on me I'm Assyrian, I didn't do anything." In fact there is no identity, no culture for us outside our churches. Why should we be surprised then when we're lumped together with all other Christians and blamed for all that the Christians did in the East. We're never blamed, as Assyrians, because no one knows what that is. We so strongly identify with the religion (Christianity) that we have no culture (Assyrian).

If all those who converted to Islam(a religion) were also forced to become Arab (a culture), and are thought of by us and others as ONLY Arabs, with no distinction made for their cultures, which are separate, Then how do we expect not to be seen as ONLY Christian (a religion). For, if we converted to Christianity, didn't we too become in, Moslem eyes, ONLY Christian (a religion) and no longer Assyrian (a culture). If we really want to maintain that being Assyrian and being Christian are one...then any anger at Christians will also light on Assyrians. I'd like to stop catching hell for what Christians have done and move on to being Assyrian. If I or my children must suffer, let it be because we are Assyrian.

It hasn't "saved" us at all to be hunted down and martyred and driven out of our homelands until finally our great love affair and affinity for the Christian West has resulted in our coming here and being assimilated to death. This is what the church did for us, starting centuries ago. It's just taken a while for the policy to take effect. But we're Americans now, and proud. And we pay taxes into, and support a system which is even now devastating our homelands, killing and starving our own people. That's something new we hadn't yet done...pay to have our own people and lands destroyed. How debased Christianity has made us. We actually take pride in and proclaim that mother who supervised her children's execution. It's an apt metaphor for what we've been made to do to ourselves. And we're happy to have done it.

I've managed to give myself a headache. Hope I've done the same for you. 


Aramaic Lexicon



"Tatian the Assyrian", considered an early Father of the Church, was born in Mesopotamia in A.D. 110.  He courageously defended Christianity in his writings to the Greeks and other "unbelieving" populations in the Middle East.  Unfortunately much of Tatian's writings are now lost.  The following is the 20th chapter of his "Address to the Greeks" book written around A.D. 170.

Even if you be healed by drugs (I grant you that point by courtesy), yet it behooves you to give testimony of the cure to God. For the world still draws us down, and through weakness I incline towards matter. For the wings of the soul were the perfect spirit, but, having cast this off through sin, it flutters like a nestling and falls to the ground. Having left the heavenly companionship, it hankers after communion with inferior things. The demons were driven forth to another abode; the first created human beings were expelled from their place: the one, indeed, were cast down from heaven; but the other were driven from earth, yet not out of this earth, but from a more excellent order of things than exists here now. And now it behooves us, yearning after that pristine state, to put aside everything that proves a hindrance. The heavens are not infinite, O man, but finite and bounded; and beyond them are the superior worlds which have not a change of seasons, by which various, diseases are produced, but, partaking of every happy temperature, have perpetual day, and light unapproachable by men below.  Those who have composed elaborate descriptions of the earth have given an account of its various regions so far as this was possible to man; but, being unable to speak of that which is beyond, because Of the impossibility of personal observation, they have assigned as the cause the existence of tides; and that one sea is filled with weed, and another with mud; and that some localities are burnt up with heat, and others cold and frozen. We, however, have learned things which were unknown to us, through the teaching of the prophets, who, being fully persuaded that the heavenly spirit  along with the soul will acquire a clothing of mortality, foretold things which other minds were unacquainted with. But it is possible for every one who is naked to obtain this apparel, and to return to its ancient kindred.

These things, O Greeks, I Tatian, a disciple of the barbarian philosophy,  have composed for you. I was born in the land of the Assyrians, having been first instructed in your doctrines, and afterwards in those which I now undertake to proclaim. Henceforward, knowing who God is and what is His work, I present myself to you prepared for an examination concerning my doctrines, while I adhere immovably to that mode of life which is according to God.

Tatian the Assyrian
c.a. A.D.170



Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, January 3, 2001; Article by Rummana Hussain

In the 21st century, saturated with online dating services and high-tech singles bars, Isaac Debaz and Fairouz Kolazar found love through an arranged marriage, an ancient custom seen as an anomaly in the United States.

"It was meant to be," said Debaz, 40. The couple, betrothed to each other when they were children in their native Syria, was the first to receive their marriage license in 2001 from the Cook County Clerk's office (Illinois) last Tuesday.

After requesting a judge to waive the 24-hour waiting period, Cook County Clerk David Orr married the casually dressed Debaz and Kolazar in a brief ceremony in his downtown office.

The clerk's office footed the $30 marriage license fee and gave the couple gift certificates for a weekend stay at the Hilton Chicago & Towers and a show at the Goodman Theatre.

Debaz spoke fondly of Kolazar while holding a champagne bottle with one hand and clutching his smiling wife's hand in the other.

Both were born in Syria but are ethnic Assyrians, a mostly Christian people originally from Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

The couple's plans to wed were initially thwarted when Debaz left Syria for the United States when Kolazar was only 3.

Debaz eventually married another woman and had two children with her.

But after his recent divorce, the north side remodeler gave arranged marriage serious thought. "I decided not to hurt my mother's feelings," he said.

Arranged marriages have been practiced in Assyrian communities for decades.

"I know back home, people in the villages, they have a lot of respect for marriage," said Debaz.

Chaperoned by Kolazar's brother, the couple met for the first time as adults in Jordan over the summer.

Both were impressed. "We're truly in love," Debaz said.

Kolazar, 31, who does not speak English, arrived in the United States only two weeks ago.

"I feel just like all the other brides," she said in Assyrian.

Debaz laughed as he said that his bride, surprised by the media frenzy over their marriage, now had to get used to gargantuan amounts of snow.

The couple, who are planning a wedding at their church and a reception for family members including Debaz's children, Danny, 15, and Mary, 14, had planned to pick up their marriage license last week before deciding they wanted to start 2001 with a milestone.

"It's a dream come true," said Albera Zaia, Debaz's friend who witnessed the ceremony.

Article submitted by Mazin Enwiya (Chicago)







BC (1280)

The city of Calah on  the eastern bank of the Tigris River and at its junction with the Upper Zab is built by Shalmaneser I, who made it the capital of Assyria in place of Ashur.  Its site is nowadays marked by the ruins of Nimrud.

AD (350)

Shapor II, a Persian King, declares war against Rome and marches on Syria.  The first important action was the siege of the Assyrian city of Nisibin, where the famous Mar Yacob, founder of the School of Nisibin, was then bishop. The siege lasted seventy days, and then the Persians having build a dam across the River Mygdonius, the waters broke down the wall. The siege was unsuccessful, however, and the campaign ended in a truce.   The Roman Emperor, Julian, in 362 decided to invade Persia. He reached the Persian capital, Ctesiphon, where he was met with proposals of peace from Shapor, but refused them. After crossing the Tigris, he burned his ships to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy; but the result was something like a panic amongst his followers. Supplies ran short, and the army entered the desert, where it seems to have lost its way. There had been no battle as yet, but almost daily skirmishes with the light-armed Persian cavalry. In one of these skirmishes Julian was slain by a javelin, whether thrown by one of the enemy or by one of his own followers has never been known. The soldiers at once elected Jovian, one of Julian's generals, and he began his reign by making a thirty years' truce with Persia. The Persians were to supply guides and food for the retreat, while the Romans promised to surrender Nisibin and give up their protectorate over Armenia and Iberia, which became Persian provinces. The surrender of Nisibin put an end to the school established there by Mar Yacob, but his disciple Ephraim removed to Edessa (Urhai), and there reestablished the school, so that Edessa became the new centre of Syriac intellectual life.

Catholic Encyclopedia


January 11, 1842
:  Mar Yokhana, Bishop of Gavilan, becomes the first Assyrian from Iran to arrive in the United States.

Jan 17

Retold in live oral performance by storytellers:
   Fran Hazelton, Fiona Collins and June Peters
7:00 PM
The Kufa Gallery
26 Westbourne Grove
Admission free
For more information phone (020) 7278 3624
e-mail fran@hazelton.greatxscape.net

Jan 21

The Oriental Institute 
University of Chicago
1155 East 58th Street

Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun  10AM-5:30PM
Wed 10AM-8:30PM
Closed Mondays

General Info:  773-702-9514
Tours:  773-702-9507

Admission is free, but the Institute suggests a donationof $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12 to view the Ur exhibition.

Jan 25

"Icons & Syriac Inscriptions in the Monastery of theSyrians in Egypt"
by Professor Lucas van Rompay, Duke University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Feb 15

"Frescoes & Syriac Inscriptions in Medieval Churchesin Lebanon"
by Dr. Erica Dodd, Victoria University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Mar 29

"Syriac Heritage at the Northern Silk Road:  TheArchaological & Epigraphic Evidence of Christianity in Kirghizia"
by Dr. Vassilios Klein, Bonn University
8:00 PM
Auditorium, Earth Sciences Centre, Room 1050
5 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Jul 2-6

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

Registration Form:  clickhere



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