NEXT AANF PRESIDENT
CHURCH OF THE EAST
CHALDEAN NUN MURDERED IN BAGHDAD
Courtesy of the Assyrian Women's Union and the Chaldean News Agency (18 Aug)
(ZNDA: Baghdad) According to a report from North Iraq, on 15 August a 70-year old Assyrian nun was murdered in Iraq. The Chaldean Catholic nun, Sister Cecille Moshe Hanna was fatally stabbed while in her room at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Baghdad.
Born in 1931, Sister Cecille joined the Convent of the Sacred Heart at a young age to lead a life of righteousness in her faith. She devoted her life to serving people, helping the poor, ill and those in need.
In a letter to the Iraqi officials, His Beatitude Mar Rafael Bedaweed I, has condemned the act: "I condemn strongly this criminal and inhumane act on one of our Chaldean nuns in Baghdad, and demand from the officials to work seriously in tracking down and punishing those criminal thugs to prevent such appalling acts, and I also demand that maximum punishment be applied so as to spread peace and tranquility in the heart of our citizens."
The Assyrian Women's Union in North Iraq has also condemned this act of murder and urges the authorities concerned and human rights representatives to make the utmost effort to arrest the perpetrators of the crime and bring them to justice.
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY EXPERT COMMENTS ON ASSYRIANS IN NORTH IRAQ
Courtesy of the American University Media Relations (2 August)
(ZNDA: Washington) On 2 August the American University in Washington D.C. announced that Carole O'Leary, a scholar-in-residence at American University's Center for Global Peace, returned from a three-week research assignment to North Iraq, analyzing regional views of a post-Saddam government and regime change.
"I focused my research on interviewing people from the smaller ethnic and religious communities -- Assyrian and Chaldean Christians and Turkomen -- as well as interviewing Kurds, who make up the majority in the region," said O'Leary. "I find it significant that the smaller, non-Kurdish communities strongly support federalism and regional governance for Iraqi Kurdistan as the best solution for post-Saddam Iraq."
"In fact, my research suggests that groups that do not support federalism and the Kurdistan Regional Government, such as some Assyrian and Turkomen groups in the U.S. and Europe, are funded and supported by outside interests, namely Saddam's regime and the government of Turkey," O'Leary said.
"It is also true that the major Iraqi opposition groups support federalism, as they stated on the record at our conference at American University," O'Leary said. O'Leary hosted the conference "Iraq's Kurds: A Key to Stability in Iraq" at American University on June 8, which brought together Iraqi opposition leaders.
Located in Washington, D.C., American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the U.S. and more than 160 countries and providing opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation's capital and around the world.
On 26 August in an article in Washington Post, O'Leary warned that the extremist Islamic militancy or Wahabism in North Iraq poses a danger to the Christians. The most famous adherent of this form of Islamic fundamentalism is Osama bin Laden. Wahabism gained a foothold in the Muslim world in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, as the Saudis, tacitly encouraged by the United States and its allies, used their enormous financial resources to ensure that radical Shia Islam did not spread to the Sunni Muslim world. In order to check Iranian influence in Pakistan, for example, the Saudis financed the establishment of Wahabi madrassas, or Islamic schools. It was in those Pakistani madrassas that the Taliban movement was born.
Ironically, it was the establishment of the Kurdish safe haven that opened the door for Saudi religious charities to gain a foothold in North Iraq. Today, traditional Kurdish Sunni mullahs estimate that as many as 1,000 Saudi-financed mosques, promoting Wahabi ideals, have been established in North Iraq since 1991. The International Islamic Relief Organization, a Saudi charity linked by U.S. investigators to support for al-Qaida is the main source of such financing.
Assyrians in an interview with O'Leary commented that they fear the influence of Wahabism. Christian women normally do not cover their hair, but some have recently been attacked, apparently for their bare heads -- in some cases with acid. Christian-owned liquor stores and beauty parlors, tolerated by most Kurdish Muslims, have been bombed also.
REPORT OF THE ASSYRIAN AID SOCIETY OF IRAQ
Project 1: Nissibin Assyrian High School Dormitories
Assyrian Aid Society of America (AAS-A)
Project 2: Drinking Water For Rabatki & Meruki Villages (Nahla
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schtutgard -Germany (ELCS)
Personal contribution by Mrs. Jacklin Bejan, California, USA.
Project 4: AAS-Iraq office
Project 5: Electricity Generators Project in Nahla District.
Assyrian American National Foundation (AANF).
Project 6: Roofs Casting Project in Tilan Village
AAS-America & Canada
Project 7: Houses Preparing Project in Levo Village
Assyrian American National Foundation (AANF)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wunttenburg (Sttutgard) & in Bavaria
Project 2: Assyrian High Schools
Project 3: University Students
Our teaching process relies on the support of mainly AAS-America, as well as AAS branches in Europe, Australia, Canada, other Assyrian National Organizations and others.
Assyrian Aid Society - America & Others.
Assyrian Women Union
Assyrian Student & Youth Union
Sanharib And Akad Athletic Clubs.
Assyrian Aid Society - Iraq
AUA PRESS RELEASE ON THE VISIT TO U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
The office of the National Security Council invited Sen. John J. Nimrod of the AUA to have a dialogue on the current conditions of Iraq Assyrians and share the Iraqi Assyrian vision for a post Saddam Iraq. The Delegation visiting Washington consisted of Secretary General John Nimrod, President Atour Golani of the Assyrian American National Federation and AUA Chapter Secretary of Americas Carlo Ganjeh. The meeting took place on the morning of July 29, 2002 in the Executive Offices adjacent to the White House.
The Director for Iraq and the Persian Gulf was well informed about the plight of the Christian Assyrians. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear a Government Official who recognized the repressive policies followed by Baghdad which force Assyrian families to abandon their homes and reclassify themselves as Arabs.
A lengthy discussion followed where we were able to inform the Director who the Assyrians are and explained the Assyrian situation as it is today. The discussion brought out why the Assyrians have fled to over forty countries around the world. AUA also presented information on the needs of the Christian Assyrians who are the indigenous people of Iraq. It was made very clear that since the creation of Iraq in 1923 Assyrians have only been recognized as a Christian Minority and denied their human rights. The Iraq Constitution of today only recognizes Arabs and the Kurds and does not mention Assyrians by name who are treated as second class citizens. President Golani showed a letter and some pictures indicating that in Northern Iraq the local government does not permit the building or re-opening of Christian Churches.
The vision of the delegation for Assyrians in a post - Saddam Iraq among other things included constitutional recognition, Assyrian representation in a democratic sectarian coalition government, recognition as the indigenous people of Iraq, receive the same rights and freedoms as any other sector of the Iraq population in a central or federal state, allowed to practice and preserve our culture, language, customs, religion and traditions and the right to return from within or without and obtain the return of their homes and lands.
Beside the main objective of this meeting of identity and rights it was made clear that Assyrians had to be recognized and included in future discussions on Iraq by the United States. Assyrians are the third largest ethnic group of Iraq and the second largest religion in Iraq. The Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriac people are all from one root. In the United States the Assyrians are the main and largest people concerned with Iraq and number over 500,000 Americans. This American Christian Community is entitled to be included and recognized on issues concerning Iraq.
It was also pointed out that Assyrians can only be represented on any future discussion on Iraq by Assyrian representatives. Assyrians cannot accept representation by any other people or non-Assyrian organization. In their dealings with Assyrians the US Government should recognize one body or person for the Christian Assyrian concerns thereby all contacts would be channeled thru one source eliminating any confusion or dual representation. This process is followed by the US in dealing with other people or ethnic groups. The meeting ended on a very positive note with the agreement to meet again in a near future.
The Delegation also met with the new Officer of the US Department of States' Iraq Desk. The updated list of names suggested as participants on the working groups for Iraq was submitted for consideration. The working groups on Iraq have been initiated and is vital that Assyrians be included. The Officer was briefed on who the Assyrians are and their needs. At this meeting the Delegation made a point that the US Department of State should take more active role in including Assyrians in future meetings and activities regarding Iraq.
The delegation also visited several congressional members offices in order to bring more awareness and attention to the plight of the Assyrians.
Assyrian Universal Alliance
STATE DEPT RESPONSE TO AUA INQUIRY, 9 AUG MEETING
States Department of State
August 9, 2002
Dear Mr. Nimrod,
Thank you for your fax requesting Assyrian participation in today's meeting with opposition leaders. I want to assure you that we value the Assyrian participation in our ongoing efforts to secure a better future for all Iraqis.
The purpose of the meeting is to enhance cooperation among the INC, PUK, KDP, INA, SCIRI, and CMM leadership. We hope that this measure will make them more effective organization, to the benefit of all groups, including the Assyrian Universal Alliance.
I understand that you have been working closely with our Future of Iraq team to identify Assyrian experts to participate in the various working groups. We expect that the ideas these groups generate to shape our approach to post-Saddam Iraq. I encourage you to continue to actively engage with the project. You may have also heard that we are advocating for an opposition sponsored political conference in the fall. Assyrian participation will be considered essential.
Again, thank you for sharing your views.
[For an analysis of the 9 Aug Conference and U.S. Congressman Hyde's Reaction to the State Department for Neglecting Assyrians see the Assyrian International News Agency report at: http://aina.org/releases/2002/representation.htm .]
of the Hindu newspaper (27 August)
Addressing the press last week, Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, announced
that the Patriarch's faction has accepted an offer by the heads of five
other sister churches. The Catholicos offered his faction's "total
support and cooperation" to the efforts of other church leaders
to bring peace to the Malankara Church.
The Catholicos said his faction was ready for any negotiated settlement `rooted in Christian faith and based on the 1995 verdict of the Supreme Court'. "The Syrian Orthodox Church is duty-bound to find a permanent solution, based on Christian ideology to the church row," he asserted.
The five high priests, including heads of the three Catholic Rites in Kerala, had in a joint letter on August 16, written to both the Catholicoi offering their mediation in resolving the row. They suggested that the two factions sit across the table and talk it over.
The church heads who have offered the helping hand are: Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church; Daniel Acharuparambil, Archbishop of Varappuzha and head of the Latin Catholic Church; Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselius of the Malankara Catholic Church who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India; Bishop K.J. Samuel of the Church of South India and Philipose Mar Chrisostum, Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church.
The Orthodox faction is yet to respond to the offer of mediated settlement.
RECOVERS 1,000 LOOTED ARCHEOLOGICAL PIECES, ASSYRIAN WINGED BULL
of Agence France-Presse (26 August)
The pieces comprised pottery utensils, gold jewelry, coins and statues. The most important piece is the head of an Assyrian winged bull, which was looted from the Nineveh province.
Iraq contains more than 10,000 archeological sites, many in North Iraq, and most of which have not yet been uncovered, according to official statistics. Baghdad alleges many archeological sites in Iraq were pillaged by US forces in 1991 in the thick of the Gulf War in which Iraqi occupation troops were expelled from neighboring Kuwait.
Iraq has also repeatedly accused foreigners of financing the theft of archeological pieces and pointed an accusing finger at diplomats posted in Baghdad and at UN employees.
BRIGADIER E. MERRILL RANSFORD
(ZNDA: London) Brigadier E. Merrill Ransford, CBE, survivor of the
British campaign in Iraq in 1917-18, was born on May 16, 1897. He died
on July 30, 2002 aged 105.
He was an exceptionally fine rifle shot and between the wars acquired a reputation as an expert in the development of small arms. During Mussolini's Italo Ethiopian war of 1935-36, he was despatched to Egypt to train British units there on some hastily purchased Hotchkiss 30mm machineguns against the eventuality of their having to face the rather better equipped Italian Army.
He commanded the Small Arms Experimental Establishment at Hythe, in Kent, achieving much valuable work in the approach to the Second World War. Following its outbreak, he was sent to North America as a representative of the Ministry of Supply to oversee the quality assurance of war contracts with American and Canadian weapon manufacturers. He was subsequently appointed CBE and received the US Legion of Merit.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to The Presbyterian Homes, 3200 Grant St., Evanston, IL 60201.
Arrangements by N.H. Scott & Hebblethwaite Funeral Home, 847-998-1020 .
NESTORIANISM IN CHINA CONFERENCE IN AUSTRIA, 2003
Notice on the International Conference
The Institute of Church History and Patrology of the University of Salzburg (Austria) and the Sinological Monumenta Serica Institute, Sankt Augustin (Germany), plan to hold, from 22-26 May 2003, an interdisciplinary symposium on the research on the so-called Nestorianism in China. The symposium will be organized in cooperation with the foundation PRO ORIENTE (Vienna) and the China Center of the University of Salzburg.
Since the discovery of the first Chinese Nestorian documents and the Chinese Manichaica and their publication in the first half of the 20th century, numerous new archaeological findings, some of them truly sensational, have been made. New studies have been published in China and other countries, unfortunately without having received due reception in an interdisciplinary context. It, therefore, seems to be necessary to gather more interdisciplinary information about the present status of research on Nestorianism in China and to exchange the achievements that have been made recently in the different academic disciplines.
The scholarly aims of the planned symposium are to make available the results of this research, to direct the attention to its geographical, historical, philosophical, and religious dimensions and to relate them to each other. The symposium will focus on the Chinese territory, but the wider context, e.g., China's neighbouring countries and non-Chinese ethnic groups, shall also be considered.
Special emphasis will be given also on new research on the Nestorianism in Tang Time China.
Themes of general interest are also to be treated as the historical development of Nestorianism, and the situation of Nestorianism today.
Lectures on these topics will be given as public lectures at the University of Salzburg.
To ensure the presentation of a wide range of research achievements, the title of the symposium has been formulated rather broadly.
Participants are kindly asked to make their proposals for contributions to the symposium in this spirit and return the attached reply form to the organizers.
The languages of the symposium will be English and Chinese. Participants are expected to read a paper (approx. 30 minutes). Short(er) communications on specific research results are also welcome. A publication of the contributions is planned.
The symposium will be held at the Bildungshaus St. Virgil in Salzburg. The organizers will provide board and lodging free of charge. Participants are kindly asked to apply for refund of their transportation costs in their respective countries. We will, however, try our best to help those who have difficulties in obtaining these funds (economy class air tickets, 2nd class train tickets).
For visa, please inquire with your local Austrian embassy or consulate.
To ensure an efficient preparation of the symposium, please return the reply form with the tentative title of your contribution no later than 20 July 2003. We are looking forward to your participation in the symposium and a fruitful academic exchange.
Dr. Roman Malek S.V.D.
NARSAI'S TASTE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
Please join me for a memorable evening of exotic flavors, wine and music - the first annual Narsai's Taste of the Mediterranean, Friday November 15. This event will take place at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. Michael Mina from Aqua Restaurant will team up with four innovative chefs to create an elegant five-course dinner for over 300 guests.
This gala event is especially close to my heart since it benefits a lost culture, the cradle of civilization, the Assyrians in our homeland. Our goal is to raise $100,000 for a new dormitory/youth center for University students in Erbil. Erbil happens to be the oldest occupied city to date. It is very satisfying to know that this dormitory will serve an eager group of young people to continue their education when otherwise they may not have the means.
The event begins at 6:00 PM with an hors d'oeurvre and champagne reception. Here you will have a chance to meet the chefs as well as bid on an array of silent auction items, from dining opportunities at Bay Area's best restaurants to weekend getaways. The five-course dinner follows at 7:30 PM, featuring entertainment and a live auction. This will be a truly elegant affair accompanied by several wines made by Assyrian wineries.
I hope I can count on your support so we may continue the work of this tremendously important cause. You may guarantee your early reservation by completing the enclosed reservation form. If you would like additional information or know of someone else who might be interested, please feel free to call us (Michael 510.527.9997). Thank you for your kind consideration of this request and for helping me to make this first event a successful one.
Individual Ticket Opportunities:
Honorary Committee (in alphabetical order)
Host: Narsai M. David
The Assyrian Aid Society of America is a tax exempt, non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) · Federal ID # 94-3147517. Located at 350 Berkeley Park Boulevard · Berkeley CA 94707 · 510.527.9997 · Fax 510.527.6633 o www.assyrianaid.org/November15
AAS SEMINAR ON CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY IN CHICAGO
Assyrian Academic Society (AAS) in conjunction with Assyrian National
Foundation (ANF) present a Seminar on:
September 29, 2002
This seminar will address the issue of voter apathy and its effects. Speakers will also touch upon the mobilization of communities as well as volunteerism and the political visibility of an ethnic community. For more information about this seminar, please call, (773) 461-6633 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome and Introduction
Speakers and Topics:
Constance Kaplan, Director of Community Services, Training and Special
Marilyn Stephens, Supervisor, Partnership and Data Services Program,
United States Census Bureau, Chicago Regional Office
Greg Kazarian, Attorney, Pedersen and Houpt
Professor Nina Eliasoph, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Robert W. DeKelaita, Attorney, Private Practice
Panel Discussion Chair: Nadia E. Joseph
Nina Eliasoph, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Nina Eliasoph teaches in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 1994-95, and has published in the areas of sociology, politics and communications. She has also produced news and public affairs programs for radio. Professor Eliasoph will discuss her book, Avoiding Politics: How American Produce Apathy in Everyday Life. The book by Professor Eliasoph is about the culture of political avoidance. She points out that many Americans avoid discussing politics hence creating apathy. A portion of her book focuses on how volunteers from different organizations and communities have tried to make their work and effort count by engaging in civic responsibilities in order to emphasize the importance of participating in civic life and becoming more politically aware of the world around them. Furthermore, she questions why Americans indulge in avoidance, a subject matter very close to the Assyrian community who exhibit signs of apathy towards civic life and political discourse. Professor Eliasoph's book illustrates the causes and effects of apathy and how to resolve the problem.
Robert W. DeKelaita, Attorney, (Lincolnwood, IL)
Robert W. DeKelaita is a graduate of Loyola University School of Law. He received his Masters degree from the University of Chicago in Political Science/International Relations. He is an attorney who has established his own private law firm in Illinois. As a prominent member of the Assyrian community, Mr. DeKelaita's most cherished achievement is the establishment of the Ashurbanipal Library located in Chicago, Illinois. He was the editor of Nabu Quarterly, a magazine dedicated to news and analysis of the Assyrian community and the Middle East. He has authored a number of articles on Assyrians and is currently collecting data to publish a book on Assyrian nationalism. Mr. DeKelaita has worked on Immigration cases and currently practices Immigration law. Mr. DeKelaita will discuss the importance of becoming U.S. citizens. He will elaborate on the necessity and purpose of government and how to understand the meaning of fundamental ideas, including equality, authority, power, freedom, justice, and responsibility.
Gregory N. Kazarian, Attorney, Pedersen & Houpt, PC. (Chicago, IL)
Greg Kazarian received his law degree from the University of Illinois, where he was recognized as the outstanding advocate in the Frederick C. Green Moot Court competition and was a member of the National Moot Court Team. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Biophysics from the University of Illinois as well. He is a partner at Pedersen & Houpt and happens to be a member of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Group. He has been practicing law since 1988. Mr. Kazarian handles all phases of litigation in both federal and state courts for clients involved in lawsuits concerning a variety of legal issues including contract disputes, employment matters, real estate, intellectual property issues, creditors' rights and administrative hearings. He also serves as general counsel for several mid-size businesses including a manufacturing company, a software development company, a human resource consulting firm and a national nonprofit association. Mr. Kazarian is involved in the Armenian community and will be discussing the importance of civic engagement and how the Armenians have come together as a community in this respect. The Armenian community is noted for its strong civic engagement in the U.S. and Mr. Kazarian will point to the Armenians as an example of how they have organized community leaders in the way of promoting and educating Armenians about the process of registering to vote, becoming knowledgeable about candidates and their platforms, and how all of the above affects the community in question.
Constance Kaplan, Director of Community Services, Training and Special Programs, Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners
Constance Kaplan is the Director of Community Services, Training and Special Registration Programs for the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners. She is experienced in all aspects of office management, program development and election administration. More than 30 years of progressive experience in election matters, legal procedures and budgetary issues. She has served as an election consultant to international groups, agencies and governmental officials. As Education Chair of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders and Elections Officials and Treasurers, Ms. Kaplan has developed and coordinated numerous education programs and seminars on public administration, civic education and media relations, as well as election technology, practices and procedures. She was a participant in election reform initiatives, committees and task forces established in response to the 2000 Presidential election. Ms. Kaplan has participated in numerous election reform legislation, mandates, and programs. She has designed and coordinated materials Election Day crisis management involving more than 600 field monitors and administrative personnel. She has also developed creative training programs and materials for 15,000 Election Day poll workers, NGO representatives and political parties. She will discuss the importance of registering to vote and voting.
Marilyn Stephens, Supervisor, Partnership & Data Services Program, United States Census Bureau, Chicago Regional Office
Marilyn Stephens obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from DePaul University. She joined the U.S. Census Bureau in May of 1998 channeling her wealth of talent, expertise and experience towards the fulfillment of an important civic responsibility, obtaining a complete and accurate count of every U.S. resident. Ms. Stephens committed all of her energies to achieving success as coordinator of the Bureau's Partnership Unit. She has been involved in the educational arena and has successfully served as executive director of the Citizens Schools Committee, a non-profit educational advocacy organization; she is Board member of the Chicago Public Schools' Monitoring Commission for Desegregation Implementation; President of the Chicago Panel on School Policy and Co-chair of the City Wide Coalition for School Reform. Prior to working for the Census Bureau, Ms. Stephens used Census data in her many testimonies to state legislatures throughout the nation regarding equity in educational funding. She was honored by the National Publication Sales Agency as "One of Chicago's Top Business and Professional Women." Ms. Stephens will present a visual lecture and discuss how to acquire and access Census data for community projects.
3RD TAAAS GENOCIDE CONFERENCE
I am writing to inform you that The Assyrian Australian Academic Society (TAAAS) has been actively involved in organising the third Genocide Conference that is arranged specifically on Assyrian issues.
The Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (AIHGS), based at the University of New South will be jointly hosting the conference on the subject of the fate of the Assyrian people after the collapse of the Assyrian Empire. TAAAS has been working closely with the Institute in organising and supporting the Genocide Conference. It is with great pride that we inform you of the success TAAAS has had in finalising the program for the Conference, which is as follows:
Eva Oraham from TAAAS will be presenting submission by the Assyrian Universal Alliance Australian Chapter - "submission on recognition of Assyrian Genocide presented to the Local Government Association of NSW dated 2nd August 2002 which was researched, prepared & presented by Ms Suzy David.
As you would appreciate such events despite its positive impact consume a lot of our time and effort. Therefore, we are writing to you requesting your support by promoting this event. With your support, TAAAS can pursue this project that is critical to raising the profile of our community and our history within & outside Australia. We are encouraging all the Assyrians & non-Assyrians living Australia to attend the Genocide Conference, as attending such Conference is imperative especially for the Assyrian Community.
For more information please refer to TAAAS's web page at
We thank you for your support.
CALL FOR NISIBIN SCHOLARSHIP RESEARCH PROJECT
The purpose of this scholarship fund is to:
Students who meet all of the following requirements are eligible to apply for the scholarships offered in this document.
The Research Project
The 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War: Reshaping the Future of Assyrians
An individual or team project. Literacy in writing and reading Assyrian not required.
Some suggested references for this research paper
The papers will be evaluated by a 5-judge panel and the top two papers
will be presented by the respective authors in the awards ceremony to
be held on Sunday, 9/29/02 at the Starlight Banquet Hall.
PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON JOHN JOSEPH'S HYPOTHESIS
It is a well-established fact that few so-called scholars and historians, who were and still are in search of personal glory, had abused and distorted ancient history. Nobody can and beyond any reasonable doubt prove that today's Assyrians are not the descendents of the ancient Assyrians. I wonder if such historians could dare to claim that at least segments of today Greeks, Italians, Iranians, Egyptians are not the logical descendents of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians and Egyptians respectively? Few historians had adopted the basic psychology technique, which teaches us that when looking for a mean to deny or question a certain crucial issue, a person needs simply to implant the factor of DOUBT in the mind of the vulnerable reader or listener and this is what John Joseph had applied in his newest book, or should I say his new old book with basically new title and cover.
The latest book by Joseph, The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East, is simply a revised edition of his1961 book "The Nestorians and Their Muslim Neighbors". I guess Joseph lacks creativity and vision to publish something new so he looked in his old stuff, picked this 40 years old book and gave it a face-lift. While the author justified his motion of giving the title "The Nestorians and Their Muslim Neighbors" to his old book by claiming that he was speaking about the members of the Church of the East, what justification could we give the author for changing the title to "The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East," yet neglecting completely, for example, the Orthodox Assyrians, wrongly named Jacobites. If the author had decided to address the Assyrians of the Middle East, why did he ignore the Catholic Assyrians throughout WWI and their condition in Iraq today with the exception of mentioning the issue from a narrow prospective of the Churches' dialogue? Does Joseph believe that the members of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox Church are not Assyrians?
In this new-old book, the author implanted this factor of doubt here and there to confuse the reader and did this in a very methodical and clever way. He did so while trying not to show himself as a completely blind antagonist. He stated, for example, in one paragraph, quote: "In the eighteenth century Assemani used "Assyrian" in reference to the Nestorians but with no implication that they were the descendants of the Assyrians. Assemani, according to Fiey, found a certain Assyrian descendance in all the peoples in the region: Jacobite, Nestorian, Sabaeans, Yezidis, and a great deal among the Kurds." Unquote. Even in this quote, he is adding further doubt by choosing a quote that is mysterious enough by bringing the Kurds in his argument and the thought that there was no implication that the Nestorians were descendants of the Assyrians!
Some readers and critics out there jump hastily when Assyrians try to justify their link to ancient Assyrians. They blame Assyrian authors today for being selective; one wonders who is not selective among today's historians? When reporters travel thousands of miles from New York to north of Iraq and return only to publish an article about the Kurdish struggle and ignore the Assyrians, they are being selective. When authors write about the Holocaust as a word synonymous with the Jews, they in fact are being selective, in a horrible manner. We are all selective in what we do, with perhaps very minimal exceptions So why should Assyrian authors be branded being selective when everybody else is trying to prove that the Assyrians of today are not the descendants of the ancient Assyrians? Is being selective a privilege of the few?
Joseph in his book implied that it was the archaeologist Layard who had created the modern Assyrian name in the 19th century as he stated, quote: "When archaeologist Layard further publicized the historic minority [Joseph refers to the Aramaic-speaking Nestorians Christians] as 'Assyrians', the name acquired a new connotation when other forces at work in the region-religious, nationalistic, imperialistic-engaged these modern Assyrians in vagaries and manipulations in which they were outnumbered and outclassed." Unquote.
Well, we have to respect any person's opinion, but we must remember that this opinion of Joseph was confronted meanwhile by Prof. Richard Frye for example, who in his article "Assyria and Syria: Synonyms" has shown, contrary to Joseph, that people had used the term Syrian and Assyrian before the 19th century. Other Professors like Simo Parpola have proven that Assyrians didn't simple vanish. In fact the Assyrian name was used in Russian archives during the 17th century. I am not sure what Joseph is looking for really. Is he asking the Armenians, for example, to use the English term Assyrians in their documents, when they use Asori in their own Armenian language? Is Joseph asking the Arabs to use the English term Assyrian when they use Ashuri in their own Arabic language?
Joseph assumed a conclusion that the ancient Assyrians couldn't have survived because they dropped their mother language, i.e. the cuneiform Akkadian, and adopted the Aramaic, unlike the Persians. Joseph stated, quote: " Unlike the Assyrians, the Persians did not forget their own mother tongue, they maintained their national-linguistic identity, largely because their own Aramaic-speaking subjects did not predominate from within Persia as they did in the core region of Assyria, later known as Bait Aramaye-home of the Arameans " Unquote. First, we need to remind Joseph that his argument has no foundation since the Assyrians replaced their complex Akkadian cuneiform language with the easier alphabetical Aramaic in 752 BC while the empire continued some 150 years after that and was in fact real powerful then. The Akkadian was the language of the Assyrian courts but everybody did not read or write it, although they spoke it. A good reason for using the Aramaic was to facilitate administrative tasks because Aramaic was better known in the other vast regions of the Assyrian Empire. Meanwhile, there is ample proof of how Aramaic is influenced by the Akkadian language. The Akkadian itself survived long after the empire had fallen. Aro and Whiting wrote: " I have argued elsewhere that Akkadian was likely to have survived throughout the Parthian period, at least until the mid-3rd century AD." Read Sanna Aro and R. M. Whiting, The Heirs of Assyria, a paper by M. J. Geller titled "The Survival of Babylonian Wissenschaft in Later Tradition." Secondly, Syriac manuscripts tell us that: "Bait Aramaye is an ecclesiastical administrative term referring to southern Mesopotamia, or al-Iraq al-Arabi, or Bilad al-Nabat of the Arabic sources. The ecclesiastical term for northern Mesopotamia, Athur (Assyria), corresponds to al-Jazira, or the land of Mosul of the Arab geographers; see Fiey, Assyrie III, 12, 36." Read Amir Harrak, "The Chronicals of Zuqnin," Parts III & IV, AD 488-775. Hence Harrak is telling us that Bait Aramaye was applied to southern Mesopotamia and not Assyria.
Furthermore, we need to remind Joseph that Assyria later in the Christian era was assigned Assyrian bishops who were titled "bishops of Nineveh" in many periods. And when the Romans invaded the region in the second century of the Christian era, they called it "Province of Assyria."
And then Joseph claims that the Nestorian Assyrians were Arameans and even more when he wrote, quote: "Members of the Aramean community of Iraq, mostly Nestorian Christians, and many of them Persian converts who had held offices of trust under the Sassanians, now served the Arab administration." Unquote. We need yet again remind Joseph that many missionaries have admitted that the Christians of the Mosul plain in Iraq, Urmia region in Iran, and Hakkari Mountains in Turkey have referred to themselves as "Surayeh," which we know today that it is the Christian version of Assurayeh or Ashurayeh, the Syriac equivalent for the English Assyrian. Again, it is Joseph's thought against many others.
Although the book contains some good information about the inter-relations between the Assyrian Christians and their Moslem neighbors in the Middle East, the author fell too short in addressing seriously many issues relating to many important matters. The authors, for example, dedicated very few lines to the Mosul and Kirkuk incidents between the Assyrians and the locals and he basically leads the reader to the conclusion by blaming the Assyrians for the troubles! As important as these incidents were in the history of modern Iraq, he did not bother to address the two incidents thoroughly.
In his analysis, the author casually discusses the Nestorians in this manner on page 154, quote: "It is difficult to speak with confidence of a national sentiment among these Christians [author referring to Nestorians], a people who had never constituted a single and comprehensive state. Their history was unlike that of the European Christians of Turkey, who for centuries had nourished a common stock of traditions and aspiration that were identified with particular territories, furnishing the minorities with a psychological basis for a centralized political entity. The Nestorians, like the rest of the Eastern Christians, with the possible exception of the Maronites and the Armenians, had no local nucleus or a definite area of homeland." Unquote. I am not sure what the scholarly world calls this paragraph, but it is full of inaccuracies. How the Assyrians conducted and ran their daily lives and where their homes were for centuries and their traditions are well defined in many history books.
Then the author on page 149 claims that one of the reasons the British brought the Assyrians from Urmia to Iraq was because of famine! I am wondering what references Mr. Joseph was using to reach this silly conclusion? The British had their eyes on the oil in Iraq. They needed a separate group like the Assyrians to use them as a political card against the future government in Iraq in order to have things go their way in Iraq. At this time the British were sure what was the future of the three Ottoman wilayats, Mosul, Baghdad and Basrah. Famine, in the eye of most political analysts, was not even a reason worth mentioning.
Furthermore, the hypothesis presented by the author disproving the linkage of ancient and modern Assyrians would not change any Assyrians' perception to whether he is an Assyrian or not, since it is Joseph's thought against many others who have proven otherwise. Joseph had failed to convince this reader with his weak argument. The Assyrians has lived in northern Mesopotamia (Assyria) from time immemorial. The Assyrians of today speak the same Aramaic language spoken by the ancient Assyrians, or any number of dialects of it, a language that had much Akkadian influence in it. And finally, the Assyrians adopted Christianity during the first century and the Assyrian church records have kept that linkage alive till this very moment.
The Assyrian student came here in 1999 from Iraq under the family
reunification scheme. His sister arrived in 1994 and he and his
parents joined her, her husband and their daughter under the scheme.
His brother-in-law came to New Zealand in 1990 as a refugee during
the Gulf War.
Differences between his home city Baghdad and Wellington included the weather. In Iraq, winters are much colder and summers much hotter.
The school timetable was also different. Although a Christian, Oshana went to an Arabic school where students were mainly Muslim. He had classes every day except Fridays from 8am until 12.30pm.
Some of his Assyrian friends in New Zealand grew up in different parts of Iraq and have different accents, making it impossible for them to understand each other except in Arabic.
"Assyrian is my first language, which I speak at home, but I'm probably better in Arabic because it was what I learnt at school in Iraq."
He said most of his Kiwi classmates associated his homeland with the Gulf War and Saddam Hussein but he said there was much more to Iraq than that.
He missed his friends, but a part-time job at a Turkish cafe gave him a taste of home, he said.
His language teacher, Karen Thomas, said Oshana was very quiet at first but had blossomed to become a fantastic role model for all pupils - particularly the school's 20-odd Assyrian pupils and other foreign students, many of whom were refugees.
Rongotai College's roll includes pupils from 49 ethnic cultures.
Ms Thomas said refugee pupils sometimes found it hard to settle in, but Oshana's application and focus -- from the moment he arrived -- had made him an excellent role model.
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