|Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E|
|Adaar 13, 6750 Volume VII Issue 3 March 13, 2001|
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|The Lighthouse||Voices Unheard|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Northern Watch
Wall Street Journal on the Assyrian Census 2000 Issue
|News Digest||A Report of the MECHRIC Seminar in D.C.
Vatican Says Relations Improving with Iran
Maronite Patriarch to Visit Canada Next Week
Plans Underway for Chaldean Cultural Center
|Surfs Up!||"Humanity has done so little"|
|Surfers Corner||H.R. 742: The Iraqi People Need H.E.L.P.|
|Reflections on Assyria||In To The Cuisinart We Go|
|Literatus||Narcissus & the Moon-girl|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Turkish Security Council Report
Escape From Iran
|Pump Up the Volume||Beginning to End|
|Back to the Future||The Concept of Kingship & National Geographic|
|This Week in History||Sarmas, Daniel & Mar Shimmun|
|Calendar of Events||March 2001|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites
In order to gain any political clout for the Assyrian community, we must play a more active role in local, state, and federal politics. We can no longer sit back comfortably and assume events will unravel in our favor. We must rise up and form a unified coalition in order to fight for our community's needs throughout the world.
It is imperative that we work together as one cohesive voice. Let's put our differences aside or we will never move beyond our current state of being. Allowing factions to control our mission will only stall and thwart our efforts to move successfully forward.
All Assyrians, young and old, must be prepared to fight for the rights of our people. We can begin our mission by registering to vote. Politicians are afraid of registered voters, especially a large block of registered voters. By simply registering to vote, you gain a voice in politics. It is that simple.
Playing an active role in politics can involve various activities. Writing letters to your elected officials, submitting an Op-Ed to your local newspaper about an issue relevant to the Assyrian population, volunteering at a campaign, and visiting your elected official to voice and lobby your concerns are just a few ways to get involved in the political arena.
We must engage in all these activities in order to educate the world about the needs of our community. If we remain silent, we inflict political self-destruction upon ourselves.
How else will our needs be met unless we vocalize those goals to the ones who hold the power? Washington, D.C. has every kind of interest group lobbying Members of Congress. Why are all these groups present there? Because they understand that if they want their needs met, they must express them to their elected officials. So why do we continue to sit back and allow everyone else play a role in politics while the voice of our people continues to remain unheard?
Elected officials will not work for you unless you voice your concerns directly to them. Individuals will continue to be unaware of the plight of Assyrians around the world, until you educate them and educate them with a powerful voice. You hold the future of our nation and of our people in your hands. To blindly walk away and resume the status quo is shameful to humanity.
Befriend your elected officials, media, and local grassroots organizations. Arm them with information and present them with goals that they need to accommodate in their legislative policy agenda and media outlets.
We can accomplish tremendous goals for our community! By gaining a voice in the political arena, we gain status in politics. Every Assyrian can do their part to help our community. Those that can should schedule a meeting with their elected official to inform them of our needs. Even better, if we had groups of Assyrians travel to Washington, D.C. once a year to meet with their representatives, armed with information and with a list of goals they need accomplished through legislative policy. Once we vocalize our concerns, and do so on a continual basis, we gain an edge in politics by holding those elected officials accountable for materializing our specific needs. Our concerns will only be addressed, if we properly lobby our views to the political actors.
We can accomplish our goals and will only do so if we break out of our chains by simply entering the world of politics. You will begin to see results once you voice your opinion on the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocide bill, on immigration policy, and the vast human rights abuses against Assyrians in the Middle East to the key political players.
We are in dire need of adequate representation in Washington, D.C. as well as representation on the local levels. Information can be a powerful tool. Utilizing this tool is up you. By educating elected officials, the media, and the world, we gain power to shape public policy and thought. By entering the stage of politics, we gain a voice in this powerful arena and most importantly, we gain a voice for those who are being persecuted around the world simply because they are our Assyrian brothers and sisters.
Zinda Magazine is pleased to announce that Ms. Farhadian has joined our crew as a Zinda Magazine's Special D.C. Correspondent and political commentator. Ms. Farhadian is a Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Barbara Lee and holds a Masters in Government degree in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.
?: A delegation from the Kurdish Islamic League Council visits the Arbil branch of Assyrian Democratic Movement.
The following article is a reprint of Nicholas Kulish's article entitled "Blood Feud: Wrong Pigeonhole? Chaldeans, Assyrians Are Vexed With Census --- The Two Groups Don't Want To Share 'Ancestry' Billing" which appeared this week in the Wall Street Journal (March 12th edition).
Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal - Copyright © 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commerce Secretary Donald Evans may want to bone up on his ancient history for one controversy over the U.S. Census that's headed his way. The battle has been brewing since 431 A.D.
The question is: Can Assyrians and Chaldeans be lumped together?
The Census Bureau plans to combine the two in the same "ancestry code," in reporting national-origin figures for the 2000 census. The decision was made after months of academic research and fact-finding trips to ethnic neighborhoods.
But some Assyrian-Americans, who trace their roots to a biblical-era empire covering much of what is now Iraq, have taken umbrage that they are to get co-billing with the Chaldeans, who the Assyrians say are a religious subgroup. An Assyrian group sued over the issue, only to be rebuffed, and now vows to take the case directly to Mr. Evans. Chaldeans, meanwhile, have been fighting for their own category for more than 20 years.
For the two groups, it's more than an issue of ethnic pride. The struggle between these two Christian minorities includes elements of history, religion, geopolitical intrigue and the shadow of Saddam Hussein, who Assyrians say supports visibility for Chaldeans in order to hurt Assyrians' pursuit of an independent homeland.
"The Iraqi government has targeted us," says dissident Sargon Dadesho, president of the Assyrian National Congress, headquartered in Modesto, California. A decade ago he was the target of a foiled Iraqi assassination plot and now is focused on the fight against a combined census category. He believes, he says, that Iraqi agents "have infiltrated the Chaldean organizations."
That's a charge Chaldeans vigorously deny. Still, it's a little too much drama for census officials who have been puzzling over what to do with the Assyrian question since before 1980, when the census added a small, fill-in-the-blank question on "ancestry" to the long form of the decennial survey.
"A lot of this relates back to the homeland" and to political issues, says John M. Reed, one of the census officials involved in determining whether the two groups share the same ancestry. "It had nothing to do with the scientific process I went through."
Demographers and politicians continue to debate the best way to use 126 potential racial and ethnic categories in the census, created because Americans were allowed to check off as many different categories as they pleased on the 2000 survey. So you can be black-Samoan-Vietnamese, for example. The first detailed national results on race and ethnicity are to be released today and will affect the redistricting of congressional seats all over the country.
The ancestry question, which is another matter, was asked only on the detailed "long form" survey that the Census collects from just one in every six households. Respondents were asked to fill in blanks, not check off labeled boxes. So the answers are even more elaborate. Even with the 604 different ancestry codes that will be applied to the data when they are released next year -- up from 467 in 1980 -- not everyone will be happy with the census's efforts to find compromises among groups such as Assyrians and Chaldeans, a population the bureau says totaled 51,765 in 1990. Both groups think that was an undercount.
The ancestry question was added to replace an older one on "place of birth of parents," which no longer applies well to a population with a smaller percentage of immigrants. But ancestry opened a new can of worms, with shifting national boundaries and countless languages and dialects to confuse the matter.
The Assyrian-Chaldean debate centers on how the government will tabulate and publish its figures, and straddles several of the Census Bureau's difficult dividing lines. The census, for instance doesn't ask for religion. So, if you answer "Jewish" to the ancestry question, it isn't tabulated. But you can be Amish or Mennonite, since those religions are also considered cultural categories.
Ethnic minorities that cross national boundaries such as French and Spanish Basques, and groups affected by geopolitical change, like Czechs and Slovaks or groups within the former Yugoslavia, require close evaluation. Many of them are counted separately. The Census Bureau consults the State Department on politically sensitive issues, such as whether to count Taiwanese-Americans under the Chinese ancestry code. Result: separate counts. But the State Department gurus had no advice to offer on how to count Assyrians and Chaldeans.
The first split for the two groups came in 431, when they broke away from what was to become the Roman Catholic church over a theological dispute. And separating religion from the Assyrian-Chaldean debate even now is all but impossible. To this day the groups speak a form of Aramaic, the language in which the Bible was written.
Pope Eugenius IV brought some of the Middle-Eastern Christians back into the Western Christian fold in 1551, establishing the so-called Chaldean rite of the Catholic Church. Many Assyrians today remain members of the Church of the East, unrelated to the Roman Catholic Church and retaining their own doctrines.
Even so, Assyrians don't regard Chaldeans as having left. "I was really quite taken aback when I heard that some of them wanted to be a separate ethnic group," says Eden Naby, an Assyrian and one of the scholars consulted by the bureau in making its decision, calling the two groups "one people of different denominations."
That isn't how the Chaldean Federation of America sees it. "We have our own history and identity," says Sam Yono, the federation's chairman. Based in Detroit, Michigan, the group represents what Mr. Yono calls the largest Chaldean community outside Iraq, which he estimates at 120,000 in the surrounding area. It is important, Mr. Yono says, to respect the differences between his community and the Assyrian community "to preserve our identity."
In a conference call between interested parties, a compromise was struck. Assyrians and Chaldeans would remain under a single ancestry code, but the name would no longer be Assyrian, it would be Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac -- Syriac being the name of the Aramaic dialect that Assyrians and Chaldeans speak. "There was a meeting of the minds between all the representatives, and basically it was a unified decision to say that we're going to go under the same name," says the Chaldean Federation's Mr. Yono.
But some Assyrians weren't satisfied, most actively Mr. Dadesho and the Assyrian National Congress, who filed a suit in a U.S. District Court in California claiming that as the name of a religion, Chaldean could not be used. Mr. Dadesho says he believes the melding of the names is meant to undermine the Assyrian identity. "Because we are the indigenous people of Iraq, and they feared this," Mr. Dadesho says.
The district court ruled for the Census Bureau in July 2000, and again when a motion for reconsideration was denied in October. Now it is time, Mr. Dadesho says, "to appeal directly to the Commerce Secretary." A Commerce Department spokesperson says Secretary Evans "hasn't had time to be briefed on that or develop a direct policy on that."
Ms. McKenney, meanwhile, insists that the Census Bureau's decision had not been influenced by Iraqi agents or concerns. "That argument has been made," she says, "but it's absolutely false."
A REPORT OF THE MECHRIC SEMINAR IN WASHINGTON D.C.
(ZNDA: Washington D.C.) The Middle East Christian Conference (MECHRIC) seminar was held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, March 9, 2001. Approximately twenty individuals representing various organizations attended this seminar to discuss religious freedom in the Middle East. Among the attendees, there were three Assyrian representatives present at the seminar. Mr. John Nimrod, Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and Mr. Daniel Yonan of the Assyrian Academic Society were among the attendees.
The first speaker, Ms. Nina Shea, the Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Freedom House, spoke of the importance of working together. Her message focused on the need of forming one unified group among the various organizations. This group, she believes, must work together and avoid factions in order to develop a sound strategy for moving forward.
Mr. David Aikman was also present from the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He discussed media approaches and strategy methods for winning journalists over. His message primarily focused on the need to help out journalists in order to create a friendly environment for successfully accomplishing one's goal. Mr. Aikman asked the audience to work with journalists by providing them accurate information as well as any other assistance they may need. He believes that this will help individuals develop a relationship of trust and respect with journalists, which will prove to reap positive results for getting one's message delivered to the public through the media outlets.
He stated that journalists tend to mistrust the motive of most individuals. By developing a professional relationship early on, organizations will have a better opportunity to get their message across within the competitive world of the media.
Mr. Aikman also emphasized that individuals must focus only on delivering facts in their arguments to journalists. One must not denounce a country, religion, or individual when delivering their argument to journalists.
Other speakers mentioned that the story of religious persecution of Christians in the Middle East is not being properly told and covered in the media. These speakers stated that individuals need to package a unified message to Members of Congress. They stated that Middle Eastern Christians currently do not have a strong voice in Washington, D.C. like other organizations. People in politics are willing and eager to hear the stories of Middle East Christians but the information is currently not being delivered to them. They also cautioned that when delivering a message to Members of Congress, one must package their message in a way that does not speak negatively of any group. They also stressed the importance of utilizing only facts in one's argument.
Washington, D.C. is a competitive marketplace that currently lacks a message from the Christians of the Middle East. They urged the attendees to start a grassroots campaign and work to sell their message to Members of Congress, the Executive branch, as well as the media. Eventually, this will help groups gain the support of Members of Congress and other major political players, in their mission to create a formidable voice for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.
A report by Zinda Special D.C. Correspondent, Lynnette Farhadian
Courtesy of Vatican News Agency; March 8
(ZNDA: Vatican) At the end of the first official visit by a Vatican official to Iran since the 1979 revolution, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said that relations between Rome and Tehran have seen marked improvement. The French archbishop, Vatican secretary for relations with states, ended a four-day trip to Iran last Wednesday, during which he met with the leading authorities of the country, including President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Jarazi and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari.
"The contacts and conversations of these days have enabled me to get to know today's Iran better, which wishes to make its own contribution to international life, in keeping with its long multicultural and multireligious history," the archbishop said in a press statement in Tehran.
Archbishop Tauran said he believes that the "dialogue between civilizations and cultures," launched by President Khatami, who visited John Paul II two years ago, "seems to offer promising prospects." President Khatami was accompanied by Assyrian catholic delegation and an Assyrian translator. In opposition to Samuel Huntington's thesis, which predicts a great confrontation between civilizations in the future, especially between the Islamic world and the West, President Khatami believes the dialogue between religions is the highest expression of the dialogue between civilizations.
The archbishop's visit also had a missionary character. He met with leaders of the Church and Iranian Catholics, who are a tiny minority of 12,000 in this nation of 65 million. "The climate of dialogue gave me the possibility to understand better the degree of participation of the local Catholic Church and its institutions in Iranian society," Archbishop Tauran commented in the press statement.
On the eve of the archbishop's trip, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the trip might also serve to explore the possibility of a visit by John Paul II to Iran, the Associated Press reported.
The 1979 Iranian Constitution states that this Islamic Republic is founded on the "belief of the Iranian people in the government of law and justice prescribed in the Koran." All its codes and laws are based on Islamic norms, and Islam is the state religion. In its "Report 2000 on Religious Liberty in the World," Aid to the Church in Need said that, although the Iranian norms state that non-Muslims will be treated justly, the law does not mention religious liberty. Apostasy from Islam may be punished by death, both in the case of the apostate as well as the one who induces another to change his religion.
The situation of Catholics in other Middle Eastern countries differs, according to Vatican. In Saudi Arabia (880,000 Catholics, mostly Filipinos) Christians are not allowed to meet for prayer even in private homes, or to possess a Bible. Religious proselytzing is punished with the death penalty. The most open country after Iraq is Bahrain with 35,000 Catholics, served by three priests and seven Comboni nuns who run a school for 1,600 pupils. Recently, the Catholic community built a church to seat 1,300. In United Arab Emirates, Mass may only be celebrated in homes. In Oman, 50,000 Catholics are organized in groups for prayers and the Liturgy of the Word. Seven priests try to visit each group at least once a month. In Qatar there are 40,000 Catholics. With no church building as yet, they meet for prayer at the International American school or other places. In Yemen there are about 3,000 Catholics, 33 priests and 71 nuns. Moreover, there are 12 Catholic schools much appreciated for the high level of education. In Kuwait there are about 100,000 Catholics and 50,000 other Christians, Protestants and Orthodox. There are two churches: Holy Family in the Desert Cathedral and Our Lady of Arabia Church.
In Egypt there are 6 million Christians (93% Copt). However, baptismal registers show about 10 million, including "Crypt-Christian" or Christians who because of social pressure declare themselves Muslims. Catholics number about 200,000.
In the Holy Land, there are three patriarchs in Jerusalem: Latin, Greek and Armenian. Latin-rite Catholics number about 70,000: 30,000 in Jordan, 15,000 to 20,000 in Israel, and the same number in the West Bank territories, all under the authority of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem. The Latin-rite community is greatly appreciated for its work in the fields of social assistance and education. Last Friday, the Israeli army impeded the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from visiting a parish in the West Bank. His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, who was received by John Paul II yesterday (March 12) in the Vatican, called for the immediate lifting of restrictions imposed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, in force for more than five months. "Israel cannot control the will of a people calling for liberty," the patriarch said in a statement. Patriarch Sabbah, a Palestinian, was detained by members of the army when he was going by car to Ein Arik, a locality north of Ramala, to preside over a Lenten liturgy. The previous day, for similar reasons, he was also unable to visit a church in Bir Zeit, a university town north of Ramala. The Israeli army and Foreign Affairs Ministry have made no comment. Israel justifies the blockade to avoid Palestinian attacks against Israelis. Over the past five months of conflicts, 423 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed.
On his return to the Vatican, Archbishop Tauran was interviewed over Vatican Radio:
Q: What was the atmosphere of this very special visit?
Archbishop Tauran: My meetings were characterized by a climate of cordiality and mutual knowledge. We addressed the problems of the region, especially those of the Church in Iran, in a precise and peaceful manner, with Iranian President Jatami and the Foreign Affairs Minister.
Q: It is the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that a Vatican personality of such rank visits that country. What was the reason? What has the trip fostered?
Archbishop Tauran: First of all, I want to clarify something. After the Gulf War, a humanitarian mission led by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray visited Iran. However, the visit was kept at a lower level than the present one, as Cardinal Etchegaray was not received by the state's highest authorities.
Mine was undoubtedly a mission of a diplomatic character. It is the first time, since we began to have diplomatic relations with Iran in 1953, that someone from the State Secretariat goes to Tehran. Therefore, this is an important event, a positive sign.
Q: What made this trip possible?
Archbishop Tauran: Well, I would say that the opportunity arose with President Khatami's 1999 visit to the Vatican, and that of the Iranian Foreign Minister, who invited me at the time to visit the country. This invitation was renewed several times. I waited for circumstances that would allow me to respond to the invitation.
Q: You have said that you discussed the Middle East in your meetings. What role can relations between Iran and the Vatican have for peace in the region? Is there agreement between the two in this thorny field?
Archbishop Tauran: We have seen that we are in agreement on the fundamental principle: The force of law must prevail over the law of force in the Middle East. As President Jatami and the Foreign Minister can explain, we have the great fortune of being able to make use of an arsenal of juridical dispositions that allow us to find solutions to virtually all the problems that are still in the air.
What is lacking is the political will to apply international law, to apply it always and everywhere. I believe that, in this respect -- to make the moralization of international life be an ever more concrete reality -- Iran and the Vatican are in perfect agreement.
Q: This visit to Iran has also enabled you to meet the country's small Christian community. What is its situation? Does it enjoy religious liberty and is there hope for it to obtain juridical status?
Archbishop Tauran: A mission of the Vatican secretary for relations with states always has an ecclesial dimension. As I often repeat, pontifical diplomacy is at the service of the pastoral life of the local Churches. I have had numerous contacts with the bishops, who have invited me several times. On Sunday I celebrated Mass in St. Joan of Arc Church.
Of course, you are right. It is a very small community, made up of only 10,000 Catholics who feel Iranian and wish to stay in Iran. As regards religious liberty, I would say they have freedom of worship. This is precisely the point I addressed in my conversations with the Iranian personalities. There must be a move from freedom of worship to religious freedom: from the purely liturgical dimension to the social dimension of faith, because faith always has a social dimension.
In this connection, in my conversations
I was also able to address the problem of the juridical status of the Catholic
Church. Now, the two diplomatic [powers] must begin to work to find concrete
solutions to everyday problems.
Courtesy of The Canadian Press; March 13
(ZNDA: Toronto) The Maronite Catholic Church of Canada is preparing for the visit of its leader Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and the East. The visit, from March 14 to 25, is a milestone in the 20-year history of the Lebanon-based Maronite Church as it is the first to Canada by a patriarch.
The patriarch will meet with dignitaries including Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Ontario Lt.-Gov. Hilary Weston. Aside from Ottawa and Toronto, the patriarch's stops include Halifax, Windsor, Ont., and Montreal, where the archdiocese is located.
There are some 80,000 Maronites in Canada, mainly of Lebanese descent. When the first Lebanese immigrants arrived in the late 19th century, they mostly attended the Roman Catholic Church. Later, Pope John Paul established a Maronite Catholic Diocese in Canada so the Maronites could preserve their traditions and further their faith.
Today there are three parishes in Montreal, one in Quebec City, two in Windsor, one each in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto, London, Leamington, Ont., Edmonton and Calgary.
Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir is the most
outspoken critic of the Syrian presence in his homeland. He lunched
with 15 U.S. Congressmen last week and met with House Speaker J. Dennis
Hastert (R-Ill.) to plead for implementation of the U.S and Saudi-sponsored
Taif accords of 1989. Those accords provided the framework for ending civil
strife in Lebanon and called for the pullout of some 40,000 Syrian troops
from the country. Sfeir, who sought meetings with President Bush and Secretary
of State Colin L. Powell, was rebuffed on the recommendation of the U.S.
Embassy in Beirut and other advisers in Washington, who are nervous about
alienating Syria and its Lebanese allies. Syria has brushed aside
calls by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to negotiate, saying the new
Israeli leader is a man of war.
Courtesy of the Detroit News; March 13 - article by Jennifer Brooks
(ZNDA: Detroit) Construction of the Chaldean Cultural Center may begin as early as this fall-- the first of its kind in Metro Detroit -- on the grounds of the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield.
"There are things that cannot be told by one person: Where did we come from, how did we become the people we are today," said Jacob Bacall, who is working on plans for the new center.
The cultural center will be the community's museum, its archives, its library, and its celebration of a culture that can trace its roots from ancient Sumer through the earliest days of the Detroit auto boom, when parents and grandparents arrived to establish a close- knit merchant community. Chaldeans are Catholics from Iraq, who began immigrating to Metro Detroit during the early 1900s.
"We are a very tight community. We rely on each other for support," Bacall said.
A federation of Chaldean families owns not only the Shenandoah golf course, but also the Southfield Manor, an upscale banquet facility in Southfield where many of the community's cultural events have been held.
But like other immigrant groups before them, the community ties loosen slightly with each generation as children and grandchildren go off to school and marry outside the community.
"We are trying to bridge the gap between the Baby Boomers and Generation X, to help them understand our ethics, our values. We hope they will come to see these things as pluses in their lives," said Bacall, who hopes the center will become a destination for school field trips, as well as community members and scholars.
The raw material for the center's exhibits are squirreled away in private homes across Metro Detroit -- family heirlooms, books in Aramaic.
"Every home has all sorts of artifacts and books. I'm sitting on a few myself that I want to donate," said community activist Michael George. "This is going to be a place where the public is welcome to come in and learn, and where we can teach our own young people. These plans are really creating a lot of excitement in our community."
Plans for the cultural center have been in the works since the Chaldean Iraqi-American Association of Michigan purchased the Shenandoah almost a decade ago. The original idea was to build a separate facility on the 16 acres of vacant land adjacent to the center, but the community eventually settled on a more central location.
"A cultural center all by itself -- who's going to go there?" George said. "People will come to eat a good meal, enjoy a good game of golf, and maybe along the way, they'll stop by and learn something."
Birmingham architect Victor Saroki has drawn up plans for a two- story, 100,000-square-foot club that will boast, in addition to the cultural center, a massive banquet hall, activity rooms, indoor recreation center, outdoor pool, a new driving range and expanded parking.
"We really want it to be a special place," Saroki said. "As a minority community, we have had to stay together and work hard. I think it will be someplace the community can be very proud of."
“What's up with all this church stuff in your magazine... Who cares why Papa in Vatican is so infatuated with the christians in the east anyway? Give us more of Assyrian culture and less of foreign influence.”
It has been 10 years since the Gulf War ended and one of the strictest embargoes in history was put in place against the people of Iraq. The stated intent of these sanctions was to prevent Iraq from rebuilding its military arsenal and to force it to comply with extremely thorough weapons inspections. In reality, the sanctions have succeeded in denying clean water, medical care, and food to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, fragmenting the international coalition, and alienating and isolating an entire generation of Iraqis from democratic values.
I am inviting you to join me as an original sponsor of the Humanitarian Exports Leading to Peace (HELP) Act of 2001. Last Congress, you joined me as a cosponsor of this important legislation that represents a new thinking on Iraq, one that embraces a foreign policy based on international humanitarian principles and pragmatism. It is simply unacceptable to punish an entire nation for the crimes of their despotic leader, Saddam Hussein. The United States has used its leadership position in the world to maintain an embargo that makes obtaining food and medicine extremely difficult. Now it needs to use that same status to correct a politically damaging and morally unacceptable situation. The HELP Act is a straightforward bill which does the following:
-Documents the findings of fact by independent organizations regarding the suffering of millions of people in Iraq;
-Changes domestic law to allow the export of food and medicine to Iraq, and instructs the president to report to the Congress in six months on (1) the amount of such exports, (2) any impact they have had on food security in Iraq, (3) any potential diversion of such exports, and (4) what steps the U.S. has taken through the United Nations to lift non-military sanctions on Iraq;
-Replaces the licensing requirement with a notification requirement;
-Notes the size of the potential market in Iraq for imports from American farmers.
I believe this bill is sensibly drafted in such a way that it will in no way weaken the international sanctions against the importation of military goods. In fact, I hope it will generate further political will in the Middle East for tightening those sanctions.
If you have any questions or if you are interested in sponsoring, please contact Cynthia Martin in the office of Rep. John Conyers at (202) 225-5126.
John Conyers, Jr.
Member of U.S. Congress
These are the current list of cosponsors at Zinda press time: Rep Baldwin, Tammy, Rep Bonior, David E., Rep Lee, Barbara, Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy, Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila, Rep. Jefferson, William J., Rep Kucinich, Dennis J., Rep McKinney, Cynthia A., Rep Sanders, Bernard, Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh, and Rep Velazquez, Nydia M.
Turkish State Security Council (SSC) Report on Assyrians
It's one of the many ironies of history that oil deposits result from eons of mulch and rotting organic matter, including great civilizations, which eventually dissolve into a goo we need to run our lives, run them into the ground if we aren't careful. The places where the goo seems most desirable now is the Mid East and our own Holy Land of Bet-Nahrain, modern day Iraq. It isn't that it's the best goo, it's just the cheapest to acquire and it preserves America's own goo for a rainy day. It's safe to say that no one here would have bothered with our lands had there been only cork trees and such. We wouldn't see their religion and cultures demonized, their anguish trivialized and their dreams smashed like so many pumpkins.
Another irony is the long tortured history of the Jews and how it crossed our own, particularly, in the modern era. The Jews are an exceptional people there can be little doubt of that. The resentment and jealousy aimed at them throughout the ages only confirms that they had qualities, overwhelmingly positive ones, which the rest of us are in awe of.
From tents in the desert they went away to school in Egypt, then Nineveh for their Advanced courses, graduating, cum laude, from the university of Babylon. They had the good sense to combine all they learned from the Egyptians and us, neither rejecting what was foreign if it was useful, nor clinging to their own traditions if they recognized their limitations. They were rigid in some necessary ways and infinitely flexible in others. They had the happy tradition of talking back to and arguing with their gods. This lack of fear in the face of authority, even divine authority, made them excellent material as scholars, scientists and philosophers, of which they gave a vastly disproportionate number, relative to their size AND tribulations, than any other group on earth.
They also gave the world the three religions which have enlightened and bedeviled it for centuries, and till this day leave us wondering if it was really worth the tremendous cost. The sibling rivalry between the three sisters, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is once again, tearing us apart. Judaism and Christianity finally split apart when the Christians stood by, almost happy, to see Rome destroy Israel. From that day the Jews wanted nothing to do with Christians and Christians increasingly blamed the Jews for killing Christ. It's always been a puzzle to me why the Jews should have been resented for doing the dirty work their own God supposedly forced upon them. There could have been NO Christ without someone willing to betray him. It was a cruel way to reward them. Besides, the Jews didn't kill Jesus, they merely convicted him. He was turned over to the "Secular Arm" of the Romans, who actually crucified him. This was also the Church's habit during the Inquisition; the Inquisitors merely convicted a person of heresy, leaving it up to the secular government to rip the person apart.
When the Romans finally evicted the Jews and sent them wandering the earth, they settled literally everywhere they could. They were periodically hounded out of every territory, lands and wealth confiscated along the way. They prospered best and gained their greatest security under the Caliphs of Baghdad , the Spanish Moors and the Ottoman Turks of Constantinople. In Christian Europe they were harassed constantly, forced to convert, killed en masse whenever stories were spread about their use of Christian blood in their services and such a litany of nonsense that even some Popes were forced to intervene and call for their protection. Through it all they developed learning centers where they could and gave a series of wise and educated scholars and ministers to government and the arts. Wherever they were given the slightest encouragement they did more with the opportunities than anyone else. That is why Spain never recovered from the double whammy of their expulsion, along with the industrious Moors and the triumph of the Inquisition which scared the population left into a Dark Age for generations.
The Church spread its teachings about the Jews throughout Europe. Every child knew that the Jews had denied and then killed "their Jesus". Right into our own era these teachings have continued to inflame people with a detestation of the very people who also gave us his first followers and disciples. This rabid anti-Semitism culminated in the attempt to kill them all once and for all in Hitler's Final Solution. The irony also is that without Hitler there never would have been the drive and determination to create a homeland for the Jews. Every attempt to destroy them has only made them stronger. It's a good thing they weren't accepted wherever they went for there never would have been a homeland for them today if they had.
And with that move another fatal path was crossed with these people in our own travels through the intervening centuries. It was understandable that the Jews would not want to remain among their Christian tormentors in Europe. It's understandable that they would pick Palestine as their future home. No one wanted them, they would have been resented and been an imposition on whomever they were dumped, and so why not their ancient lands. European Jews had little in common with people, Jews and Moslems, in the Mid East. Those who settled there were essentially Europeans and of a rather high order. While numerous scholars and scientists had been killed, still the tradition and habit for that kind of enterprise was both an old memory and something they'd recently been practicing freely and with great success before the War. It was natural of them to think of moving to a" primitive" land like Palestine was, thinking to enrich it but also overwhelm the native population, impress and outmaneuver them, into allowing them to gradually take over.
The presence of the Jews in the MidEast was a godsend to the West. Having forced Britain out and casting a wary eye at the United States, the Moslems were taken off guard when Israel became a de facto outpost for Western interests, sort of like the Levies were used in Iraq to control the situation for their masters. For the last forty years Israel, with increasing support engineered in the United States (as anyone is welcome to do) has both disrupted the Arab world for its own "security" and allowed the United States to divide the oil producing countries into friends and foes and enemies to each other.
The installation of the Khomeini regime after the ouster of the Shah, the support given to Saddam Hussein, grooming him for his part, the war between Iran and Iraq and the Gulf War, have been major triumphs of diplomacy, along with several minor victories, and I'm sure some defeats. But the overall strategy seems to have produced results. It has resulted in permanently damaging relations between Moslem countries, creating generations of illiterate, hate-filled people who will feed the West's image of "Arab Terrorist" for generations to come. And, Israel has managed to weaken its sworn enemies.
These enemies were created in the first place by forcing the Moslem world to suffer the consequences of the brutal and stupid teachings of the Christian Church for centuries. Generation after generation has been raised to think that a Jew deserves the worst that can be done to him or her, all of it sanctioned, condoned and blessed by the "Vicar of God" on earth. To his credit the recent Pope has apologized somewhat, but talk about too little too late.
It was a European Christian problem, and while I'm certain Moslems who have lived with Jews from the beginning of time were sympathetic to what Jews had suffered...this turned to hatred quickly when they saw that they would be the scapegoats...that Europe would one day become a "peacemaker" and "honest broker" in a MidEast it had deliberately used to cover its own great crime. Moslems have lost sympathy and damaged their own humanity in their hatred for what was essentially a people very like themselves. The Romans of Europe first meddled there then, turning Christian, the Emperor/Popes continued to spread hatred for Semites until the Protestant branch sought to exterminate the Jews and when that failed caused them to be dumped upon their Semitic cousins, continuing to meddle with their affairs until today the Mid East is a shambles, if you look closely at all.
And where do we fit in? It just happens that our own Holy Land of BetNahrain became modern day Iraq through a British maneuver, and eventually became a threat to Israel, imposed upon those people yet again by Europeans. Israel has managed to deploy the might of the United States, using our tax dollars as well, to chastise, beat and starve our people of BetNahrain. European Christianity also caused us to fall out with our Muslim brethren and forced us to escape for our religion's sake to this same Christian West which now seeks to break our homelands utterly.
For centuries the West, turning
our civilizations and our religions against us and each other, has been
tampering with our lives, our wealth and our children's future. We don't
seem to be able to extricate ourselves from this quagmire for we have become
so polarized that suspicion and mistrust keep us from forming any sort
of alliances...not within our communities and not across the artificial
lines which divide us. If we cannot learn to share that land between us
in life, we will certainly do so in death. The dead can share any ground,
they aren't particular.
NARCISSUS & THE MOON-GIRL
Last night I closed my eyes and drifted away to a place more real than the echoes of the thoughts I leave behind on these effervescent computer pages.
I dreamt of a small meadow in the shape of a triangle. In the middle stood a young woman; her hands and feet chained together. She called herself the Moon-girl. She knew of me and my thoughts and she thought I was mad. “To what place is this journey of yours taking you to, Sheedana?”, she asked in her soft voice, soft as the wings of a butterfly. “I am pursuing a dream!”, I said. “Tell me about this dream!”, The Moon-girl asked quickly. I explained the voices in my head and the Road I had begun to take in my youth. “What do you expect to find at the end of the Road?”, she murmured in my ears. I looked into her bright black eyes and said nothing. I knew they had cried many tears and had watched many men sent home empty-handed. She then asked: “I too have a dream. Let us walk together then!” Confused I looked at her and asked “Why?”. She threw herself upon me and began to cry. I cried too. Neither of us understood - we just followed the Road.
We came to a fountain, with water as clear as the eyes of a gazelle and blue as the nickel-color banks of the River Euphrates. I was tired and thirsty. I stooped down to drink and suddenly saw my face in the water. I paused, looked behind and found the Moon-girl lying naked in the fallen leaves and the grass growing around the fountain. She was beautiful. Her hands and feet were unchained. I looked back in the water and saw my face again. I fell in love…
I then heard her voice and turned away from the fountain. Her rosy cheeks and red lips glowed under the hot sun. I brought my face near to kiss her parted lips. I felt the western winds blowing gently; suddenly she was no more. I searched everywhere, waited for what seemed like a life-time. Strangely I could feel her gently floating over the fountain, looking at me withering away.
I then saw three mermaids with golden hair. I was very cold and had lost all thoughts of food or rest. Thmurmaids' hands were reaching to touch me. I stepped back and covered my face with my hands. The tallest one asked me: "Why, beautiful being, are you so afraid? Surely our faces do not repel you. When we stretch our arms, come and hide your face in our bosom. Let us wipe away your tears with our kisses.” But I did not move. Tears streamed down my face again. I looked up and saw the sky lit up with a thousand shooting stars, yet I could not see any traces of my Moon-girl. My tears fell in the waters of the fountain and disturbed my image. I shouted, "Please, please stay with me. I beg you to stay with me. I can't carry on without you and I do not wish to take this Road alone any more.” I heard nothing.
The youngest mermaid held my arm and softly whispered: “She loves you, but not your dream; she loves your eyes, but not your vision. She must follow her own footsteps and not yours.” I raised my voice again: “No, if I wait she will come back and walk with me to the Ziggurats.” So I waited and waited. I waited ninety-nine days and on the hundredth day I asked the fountain, “Why can't I at least gaze upon her face one last time.” The fountain was unable to speak; it only wept in silence. So I left the fountain and continued on my journey alone.
Many days later, the Moon-girl re-appeared by the fountain and began to search for my face in the water. “Why do you weep, O fountain! Is it because you miss his beautiful face too?”, gently she asked. Her chains were gone. The quiet waters of the fountain began to speak: "I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, every time he looked at his reflection, I could see, in the depths of his hazel eyes, my own ancient beauty reflected."
I then opened my eyes and found myself back in my senseless world of bits and bytes. All that was wonderful had melted away. Was it another failed romance? Was I too proud? Will I ever meet her again?
Sitting naked and alone, once more I'm flipping through the pages of my life, thoughtless, passionless, a soldier without a war, another mindless, loveless hero.
“Narcissus & the Moon-girl” is a reverie brought together by Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and the joy of holding a heart-shaped Cobalt-blue glass box I once received from a beautiful Assyrian girl in Chicago… Happy Birthday Moon-girl!
Based on an article in the Hamshahri Daily; 22 August 2000 - article by Vahid Marhamati-Salmasi
Located in northwestern Iran, consisting of cultivating plains and mountainous areas, the historic central town of Salamas is an ancient region, being supplied by the rich waters of the Zolachai River.
The antiquated remains found in the Salamas region bear witness to the settlement of ancient people in this area.
According to ancient tales, Salamas was initially established in the third millennium B.C. and under the rule of the Assyrian King Shalmanaser III. It was primarily used as a fort against attacks by tribes associated and united with the Babylonians. With the passage of time the castle gradually was developed into a town and the name was eventually shortened from Shalmanaser to Salmasar to Salmas.
According to the artifacts found in the vicinity, Salamas had been a civilization and an inhabited region even before the Assyrian times, dating back to circa the seventh millennium B.C.
In his travel accounts, Al-Moqaddasi has praised the city for its bazaars as well as its stone mosque. On the other hand, Yaqoob Hamouri in his account of Salamas, described it as a ruin of a city, at a later stage.
Hamdollah Mostowfi noted that the town's surrounding ramparts were improved under the rule of Ghazan Khan. In a book titled "Nezhat al-Qoloob", Mostowfi wrote:
"Salamas is of the `Fourth Domain'. Its length is extended from the `Khaledat islands' or `Khat-e Yad' and its width from the equator or `Lozm'. It is a large city with damaged ramparts. The city was built by the order of a senior minister of King Khajeh Alishah-Tabrizi. Salamas' circumference is 8,000 feet and its climate is rather cool. Its water source comes from Mount Audiyeh of Kurdistan and flows into Baheereh Chi-chost (Lake Urmi). In the fourth century Hijra, all its habitants were Kurds. In 1900 A.D., it had 108 villages and at least 50,000 residents. Some parts of the region were inhabited and settled by Christians only. Long ago, the city was a part of Armenia and later on became known as the city of `Zarvand' during the Mede and Achamenian eras".
In an area close to today's Salamas, on top of a hill called Zanjir-Galeh or Chain's Castle, there is an ancient building found by `Kad Porter' which contain some stone tablets dating back to the Sassanid dynasty. On these tablets called "Ozdani" by the local people, shaped on stones are portraits of Sassanid Kings Ardeshir and Shahpour riding on their horses while Armenian rulers are kneeling down before them. Based on this and similar evidences, some historians attribute the conquering of Salamas by the Persians to Kings Ardeshir or Shahpour of the Sassanid Empire.
Apart from the said tablets, other interesting artifacts are also in Goorchin-Qaleh or Goorchin Castle. Near a village known as Tazehshahr there is a brick-made tower known as the Miri-Khatoon (daughter of Arghanoon-Agha) where an ancient dated tablet moreover exists. Salamas' Haftevan village, in ancient times had been the capital of Persian and Azeri-Armenian pontiffs.
In Goltappeh Hill near Salamas, one of the oldest proofs of human mass settlement and inhabitancy in the world has been discovered. What is notable about the collection of findings in this region, is that, surprisingly, this so-called `permanent village' dates back to the seventh millennium B.C.
Flakes and cuts on Absidani mother stones discovered in this region indicate that this advanced village at ancient times had been an important center for producing tools such as knives, razors and some other cutting instruments in the Lake Urmi region. Finds such as stone dishes and various other stone tools and items, indicates that a lot of agricultural activities took place in this community as regards securing foodstuffs for the residents.
Dark-grey earthenwares with illustrations on them as well as other baked clay found in this region, match those of the same kind found in Nakhichevan which dates back to the Bronze Age in 2900 B.C. In addition, the evidence found in the upper layers of the Goltappeh Hill provides evidence concerning the development in this area from three cultural eras from the 6th millennium B.C., the 5th millennium B.C. and the 4th millennium B.C. respectively as old as the Haj Firouz and Dalama civilizations in the Seldooz Naqadeh region and the ancient Bronze Age in Nakhichevan Republic.
Even though this hill is of great cultural values, no considerable research has up to this time been done on any of the culturally and historically precious layers of the hill, and so far very little is known about the longevity of these layers. Another noteworthy point about this region is that large pieces of Absidani [abseiled] stones weighing up to 5 kilograms have been found there. The oldest place of human settlement in the world which could be characterized as a permanent village, has been in Bet-Nahrain or Mesopotamia in Iraq. This is a place where its cultural characteristics suggest it is older than Goltappeh.
Shah Abbas of the Safavid Empire fought a war with the Ottoman Empire for Salmas, and history has shown that the Russian and Ottoman wars as well as other crises of post-World War I, damaged Salmas considerably. Also, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, Agha Mohammad Khan after the occupation of Armenia, entered Salamas and stayed there for a while.
During the Shah Abbas era, Salamas experienced both peace as well as development for a considerable period. The shah with his special political skills moved the Armenians to the city as well as its surrounding villages and moreover settled the disputes which existed between them. He even ordered the Haftevan Church's restoration and additionally placed it under the care of the Armenian authorities.
Salamas lost its significance during the Qajar dynasty and a village close by named Dilmaqan was paid more attention to and was developed to some extent. However, unfortunately during a massive earthquake in 1930 both Salmas and Dilmaqan were totally ruined and destroyed and as an effect more than 4,000 people lost their lives.
The first school using modern methods in Iran was established by Saidkhan Salmasi in Salmas, which was a catalyst to the establishment of similar modern schools in other parts of the country.
Heidarkhan Amoghli, the well-known figure during Iran's Constitutional Movement, and Mirza Aminolsultan, Mozafareddin Shah's (Qajar Dynasty) Prime Minister, were both from Salamas.
Currently, Salamas has seven districts and 150 villages with an average population density of 30 persons per square kilometer. Its economy is mainly based on agricultural products as well as livestock breeding.
The city's agricultural products are primarily wheat, barley, tobacco, oily seeds and beet. Livestock breeding plays a major economic role in this city's economic livelihood and at the present time apart from its leather making industry the city of Salamas has three large factories which produce and export dairy products.
Salamas is a major producer of apricots in the country and its dried apricot producing factories of Khosrow-Abad, Haftevan, Soureh, Khanekah and Tazehshahr form one of the main sources of dried apricots in Iran. The dried apricots produced in these factories are exported to Germany and Russia on an annual basis.
The city also has quarries of marble, tile, manganese and Tankal [borax], which is a substance used as a welding material in the goldsmith trade as well as in tin manufacturing and its chemical identification is "Borat 2 Sodium".
It should also be mentioned that Salamas has a healthy handicraft industry such as in handwoven gloves and kelims, which consequently has a positive impact on the economy of the rural households of the region.
Article submitted by AUA Newswatch
For the first time the concept of "kingship of the four corners of the world" is introduced in human history with the advent of Sargon the Great, who unites all of Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia) and presses into Syria and Turkey.
The Face of the Ancient Orient, Moscati
The National Geographic Magazine publishes "Ancient Mesopotamia:
A Light That Did Not Fail". The 61-page article was written by E.A.
Speiser, Chairman of the Department of Oriental Studies at the University
of Pennsylvania. It featured 43 illustrations and maps, 32 of which
were in color. All paintings were done by H.M. Herget.
March 15, 1910:
born, William Sarmas (brother of Peera Sarmas). He was educated in
the Missionary School in the city of Tabriz,
Iran. He completed his studies in Chemistry in France and was employed in Iran until his return to France in 1963 where he passed
away. He is the author of several Assyrian plays, a complete Persian-Assyrian dictionary, poetry books, and lexicons of Assyrian words (i.e. names of animals, plants) and a medical dictionary.
March 16, 1918: assassinated, Mar Benyamin Shimmun, Patriarch of the Church of the East while visiting the Kurdish warlord, Simko, on a peace mission. The Patriarch and his entourage were killed by His Holiness' Kurdish host and his men.
March 17, 1903:
born, William Daniel, Assyrian author, poet, music composer, and grammarian.
Rabbie Daniel's literary works include several plays and the Epic of
DINNER & DANCE PARTY
The Assyrian Academic Society invites you to attend a dinner and dance party in honor of the newly elected Executive Officers. Bring your family and friends and dance the night away!
Entertainment by Ogin
Limited seating- call now to reserve your tickets: (773) 461-6633
AAS Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
KHA B'NEESAN PARTY
Assyrian American Association of San Jose presents
Tickets sold every Tuesday and Thursday
ASSYRIAN ACADEMIC SOCIETY LECTURE
The Assyrian Academic Society in conjunction with the Syriac Cultural Center proudly host a lecture entitled:
"History of the Syriac Church and its People"
For more information, call AAS at: (773) 461-6633
GILGAMESH CULTURAL CENTRE LECTURE NIGHT
"The Aramaic Language, its origin and history"
"Father Abraham, Isaac and Ismail"
For more info contact Alfred Mansour at
AMERICAN ORIENTAL SOCIETY PANEL DISCUSSION
"Writing Syriac: From Stone to Bytes"
1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
1. Marica Cassis, University of Toronto
2. Amir Harrak, University of Toronto
3. Wolfhart Heinrichs, Harvard University
4. George Kiraz, Syriac Computing Institute
5. Wassilios Klein, Bonn University
6. Eden Naby, Harvard University
Panel to be held at the 211th Meeting of the American
CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR SYRIAC STUDIES LECTURE
"Syriac Heritage at the Northern Silk Road: The Archaological
& Epigraphic Evidence of Christianity in Kirghizia"
Since the 1890s Kirghizia has attracted the attention of scholars in the field of Syriac epigraphy, when Daniel Chwolson published about 600 Syriac funerary inscriptions found there. The discovery of these inscriptions came as a surprise since there was little literary evidence that Christianity had played any important role in the lands located to the north of the Tianshan Mountains. In recent years archaeological excavations in the Middle Age capital revealed a church with three naves and the grave of a holy man. Taking into consideration these excavations, the other religions coexisting with Christianity in Central Asia, and the political history of that region at that time, we shall describe the role played by East Syriac (so called Nestorian) Christianity and the Syriac language in the daily life of the Sogdian and Turkish people.
AKITU ASSYRIAN FESTIVAL
Organized by a network of Assyrian youth, the Assyrian community and the wider Australian multi-cultural community
AKITU ASSYRIAN NEW YEAR 6751
Games, rides, shows, drama, & Fireworks
For more info: Nina @ 0416041432 or email@example.com
TREASURES FROM THE ROYAL TOMBS OF UR
Detroit Institute of Arts
Adults $8, Children $5: includes audio tour and museum admission
This year marks the 600th anniversary of the remembrance of the men and women who died in 1401 A.D. when Timurlane attacked the Assyrian villages near Nineveh. Each year children dress-up as brides and grooms and go to homes in the neighborhood to collect sweets.
Nakosha "Assyrian Holidays" Calendar
XLVIIe RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE
International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern
Registration Form: clickhere
A festival celebrating the descent of the god Tammuz to the Underworld and the end of spring in Bet-Nahrain. It is customary to sprinkle water on friends and family members, wishing for Tammuz' safe return to his beloved Ishtar.
A day to commemorate the Assyrian martyrs throughout history.
(California) ... Sharokin Betgevargiz (Chicago)... Prof. Malcolm McClure
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