THE ASSYRIAN NATION FROM TISHREEN I TO TISHREEN II
Part I Subdued Nationalism in Baghdad
When the American tanks started rolling into southern desert last March it signaled that the days of the tyrant of Baghdad were numbered and the liberation and the freedom of Assyrian Christianity at last had come after two millennia and a half.
On Tishaa b’ Nissan Britain’s stooge in Baghdad concedes defeat and the dictator sees in his own eyes the brittle power he established by fear crumbles like an old pottery jar.
Dictators often know history but do not heed its lessons. Hitler made the same mistakes of Napoleon. Notorious Saddam and Idi Amin knew the fate of dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin but thought that they were reformers and larger than size human beings things those three also thought to be.
Britain’s stooge in Baghdad, a bedouin boy from Alouja,
believed that he will establish an Arab kingdom on the Mesopotamian
soil that would embody the historic might of Sargon of Akkad or
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon or both.
Britain’s stooge is gone and the noble people started breathing the oxygen of liberation and freedom after 35 lean years. The Assyrian Christians should make this liberation as a launching pad for our national emancipation and for claiming our historical land usurped for many centuries.
We will no longer accept the fifth-rate status and we no longer remain passive overtaken by others to speak for us and we will never remain the punching bag for others in our own homeland. The days of Arab nationalism and Kurdish regionalism and Islamic despotism are over.
Their time is up and everyone not with us, within and without, must know what we want and what we want we mean it. The world has changed and will change more and all the dogmas and illusions of the past are no longer valid and must disappear and the history of the past century will be obliterated and a new dawn for small nations shall arise and the exhausted old geriatric nations shall wane-they are waning indeed.
The Tishreen meeting in Baghdad was overdue and has come in a crucial time in the history of our people and our nation when our nationalistic intelligentsia and group leaders especially those in exile lamented the indifference of our political leaders on the ground for their inertia to press ahead with the demand of our people for national homeland in our heartland of northern Mesopotamia.
Since the fall of Baghdad on Tishaa b’ Nissan our political leaders in Baghdad have failed to advance our national cause even an inch and what has been achieved is general and came as a windfall for all by God’s grace and not by our works (New Testament).
Since Tishaa b’ Nissan, Zowaa Democrataya Ashuraya had failed to bounce and go beyond its jammed programme of recognition-the old archaic manifesto of 1979.
Zowaa stop drumming the recognition card because we do not want
recognition-that was for 1979 and not for 2003.
What Zowaa says is not what our people are saying. We want a homeland in our ancestral fatherland.
It seems that Zowaa with encouragement from Mtakasta Democrateta
Ashuretha have found that they can not remain insular and have
to listen to our people before it is too late and I personally
am moved by such change of direction.
Browsing through the list of attendees it seemed that even some
of our peoples at home were not represented.
What is the size of this region and why we do not call it an Assyrian province and how to demark such region? It may be that adopting such cryptic words is meant to send appeasing signals to the Kurdish bandits.
The other point is that the meeting opted for a federal state but this is also a vague statement and also meant to please the Kurdish aghas because they are the ones who are keeping drumming such ideas. Now as Assyrians where we stand in this federation? Are we going to be under the Kurdish rule or have our own regional federal status? Answers are required.
Our people have said that if the country is federated we must
be part and parcel of that federation too.
I applaud all who raised the ethnic cleansing issue that started in the autumn 1961 with the launching of the Kurdish revolt by Mullah Mustafa and the resort to the pre-republican census of 1957 to establish the victims of such cruel Kurdish inhumanity.
I also applaud all for raising the question of the right of return for all within the country and from outside. The important issue is to undo the ethnic cleansing committed since 1961 and the retreat of the Kurds from our towns and villages.
The return of the exiled will not begin unless a great work is done in the direction of our national homeland in our heartland in full. No one will return to a village surrounded by armed Kurdish thugs.
The people at the meeting in Baghdad ended their gathering with somewhat positive signs though small but I personally scent not a pure nationalism but a much subdued nationalism because the men on the ground still lack courage to defy the armed men with turbans but I must say that our men started to listen.
A section of our people were excluded from that meeting by not giving them the required time to send delegations but I hope that in the coming meetings our people’s representation be fully considered so that their contribution will be more robust. Having full representation means that we would no longer issue vague declarations and instead of saying an ‘administrative region’ we will say it plainly an Assyrian province or even an Assyrian autonomous region.
Part II Treason in Baghdad
I have just finished drafting part I of my article with a sense of elation that lasted only for a few days of inebriation about the outcome of the Tishreen meeting and its final declaration and just to be shocked to find out that the Shikhtana council of Baghdad is about to re-structure the administration map of the country based in dividing the nation into 9 states.
I was really devastated to learn that Mosul and Ramadi will be
carved up into one state and Arbil and Duhok into another state.
While the rest of the merger looks possible because of homogeneity
We ask our people of our nation to lift their voice and demand
for the Province of Mosul to be kept alone and also ask for the
creation of the Assyrian province based in the Assyrian triangle
(minimum) that is already known and defined.
We also ask the attendees of the Tishreen meeting to voice their anger and lambaste all local and regional and former outside powers in their attempt to downsize the status of our people as a nation with its firm right for self-determination along with other suppressed small nations worldwide especially the Christians of the Middle East.
TWO ASSYRIAN ARTIFACTS FOUND IN A BAGHDAD CESSPOOL
Two priceless pieces of Iraq's ancient heritage, looted from Baghdad's main museum in the chaotic days after Saddam Hussein's fall, have been recovered from a Baghdad cesspool, American officials said yesterday.
The Akkadian Bassetki, a copper statue of a seated man dating from 2300 BC, and an Assyrian brazier carved in wood and bronze dating from 850 BC, were found by police investigators.
The Bassetki statue is considered the most important of Iraq's ancient artworks after the Warka Mask of a Sumerian goddess, recovered in September.
"I would describe this as a spectacular find and we're extremely pleased," said John Russell, an art expert who is helping to restore recovered artefacts. "As far as I can tell their condition is OK, although they still need a bit of cleaning up."
Most of the 42 pieces missing from the museum's public galleries
have now been recovered.
PRESS RELEASE OF THE 3RD WORLD ASSYRIAN CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW
Two International conferences regarding “The Assyrians Today“, which were devoted to “Issues and Perspectives” and “Historiography and Linguistics” were organized in Moscow in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
By the decision of the Organizing Committee, the Third World Assyrian Conference entitled “The Assyrians Today. National Issues and the Mass Media” will take place in May 2005. Such a decision is connected with the fact that the Assyrian organizations in Russia and CIS have planned to hold in 2004 two important meetings, which will also have a national character, and many guests from the entire Assyrian Diaspora will be invited to these meetings.
In the year 2004 the village of Urmia in Krasnodar Territory will be 80 years old. The village was founded in 1924 by the decision of Soviet Russia government, which gave a chance to the Assyrian refugees from Iran and Turkey to live in proximity, keeping their traditions, their language and national culture. The village was founded not far from the city of Armavir, where soon a teachers’ training school started training teachers of the Assyrian language, not only for the village of Urmia, but also for the Assyrians living in Georgia and Armenia.
Next year the Assyrians of Armenia and Georgia will also celebrate another important date – the 175th anniversary of the first settlement of the Assyrians in the Russian Empire, particularly in Armenia and Georgia.
The ties of the Assyrians with their coreligionists in these countries have centuries–old history of brotherhood. Yet, mass migration of the Assyrians from Iran (then Persia) began in 1829 after signing of the Turkmanchay Peace Treaty between Russia and Persia, in compliance with which the Christians of Persia were permitted free migration to Russia. In order to sign this Treaty, the mission with the Great Russian writer and diplomat Alexander Griboedov at the head, was sent to Tehran. The Treaty was signed in 1828, and the following year the Moslem fanatics attacked Griboedov’s mission and punished him brutally. Griboedov was also killed. His body was brought to Tiflis where he was buried.
This incident confirmed that the religious fanatics were very dangerous, and could have resulted in the bloody massacre of Christians, Assyrians and Armenians in Persia. That is why rather a big number of the Assyrians began migrating to the neighboring cities of Yerevan and Tiflis (Tbilisi). Thus the Assyrian villages of Dugyun (Dvin), Koylasar, Arzny in Armenia and villages of Kanda, Karayaz in Georgia were founded.
For 175 years the Assyrians were able to preserve their heritage,
language, customs and traditions in these villages. As time went by,
their descendants gained an opportunity to receive good education,
many of them graduated from the best universities of St. Petersburg,
Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Saratov and other cities in Russia.
Jubilee celebrations in the village of Urmia in Krasnodar Territory are planned for May 2004, including the festival of the Assyrian art and sport games. In September of the same year jubilee celebrations with participation of guests from the numerous Assyrian Diaspora will take place in Tbilisi and Yerevan. Among holiday celebrations holding of the meetings with guests’ participation are planned in every Assyrian village of Armenia and Georgia. Lectures and concerts of the Assyrian science and art figures will be considerable events in social life of these sister nations, which are the second motherland of the Assyrians.
The Organizing Committee is applying to all people and organizations involved with a request to send suggestions and applications about their participation in these celebrations.
[Z-info: In conjunction with next year’s jubilee celebrations in Russia, Armenia, Georgia and other former Soviet Union republics, Zinda Magazine is pleased to announce the launching of the Russian edition of this publication on January 2004. At presstime the “Z-Russia Crew” is busily working on the development of our Russian website and the first all-Russian issue. The Assyrian communities of Russia and CIS comprise the second largest collective Assyrian population outside of the Middle East.]
ASSYRIAN “MOTVA” OF TEHRAN ELECTION RESULTS
(ZNDA: Tehran) The general membership of the Assyrian Association of Tehran or “Motva d’Tehran” recently held elections for the new executive committee. A team of nine officers, under the leadership of Mr. Albert Kochoei, who ran on a single ticket received a majority of votes and was voted in as the new Board of the AAT. Mr. Kochoei is a well-known Assyrian-Iranian journalist and radio-television commentator. The other members of the elected board are as follow:
1. Mr. Albert Kochoei Chairman
Three other officers” were also elected to assist the elected Board. They are:
1. Mr. Johnny Sheer-Abadi
Each member assumes a term of three years in office. Of the 1,200 paid members over 700 cast their votes at the Bet-Motva in Tehran between 9 am and 4 pm.
The elections for the office of the “Representative of the Assyrian and Chaldean minorities to the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) will be held in March 2004. His Honorable Yonatan Bet-Kolia is the current representative in the Majlis .
(ZNDA: Sydney) In the minutes before 5am on Thursday an armoured vehicle more likely to be seen on the mean streets of Belfast moved slowly through Fairfield.
The high-powered vehicle, packed with heavily armed police officers in bullet-proof vests, was there to search for the people responsible for a number of shootings caused by a family feud in Sydney's west.
The spectacular raid, as dawn first coloured Sydney's sky, had nothing to do with the death of a man gunned down at a Punchbowl service station last week.
The police where there because of another bloody Sydney family feud – this time among members of the Assyrian community.
While the new police armoured vehicle spearheaded the raid on three adjoining houses in Mandarine St, Fairfield, dozens of uniformed officers and detectives stormed three homes and a workshop in Villawood, Bossley Park and Seven Hills.
Police closed off the entire length of Mandarine St and pyjama-clad women and children were led to safety before they entered the three, unrenovated weatherboard homes.
Police earlier met at Fairfield police station for a briefing before heading to their designated locations in an operation designed to end the cycle of retaliation violence.
Yesterday's raids follow a number of drive-by shootings, the first in December last year when 28-year-old Dimitri Debaz was shot dead outside a hotel in Clapham Rd, Sefton. A later attack on a Fairfield car sound shop left customers injured.
"There's been a number of drive-by shootings and persons who have been shot," said Superintendent Mark Henny from Taskforce Gain – which is also investigating several drive-by shootings and attempted abductions linked to people associated with Lebanese Muslim families in the area.
"All matters of a violent nature that are linked to these crimes are being investigated."
Two men were arrested during yesterday's raids.
A 19-year-old man who was still being interviewed by police last night and 58-year-old Pierre Debaz – the father of murder victim Dimitri Debaz – was taken to Fairfield Local Court.
Looking tired and speaking through an Arabic interpreter Mr Debaz faced firearm, attempted murder and abduction and maliciously inflict bodily harm charges.
Detective Sergeant Greg Berry from the State Crime Command opposed bail, saying Debaz was charged with very serious offences.
He said there would be "a very real fear . . . that witnesses will be interfered with" if Debaz was granted bail.
He said there was a "relentless pursuit of other people he [Mr Debaz] feels are responsible for the death of his son Dimitri".
Magistrate Anthony Spence refused bail – for "the welfare and the protection of the community" – and adjourned the case for mention to Liverpool Local Court on November 21.
Yesterday police Commissioner Ken Moroney warned criminals: "When you least expect us, expect us."
And Premier Bob Carr promised that Sydney's gangs and gun culture would be defeated.
"Our police force – professional, well equipped, well armed – is coming after you with the support of the people of Sydney," he said.
"We will run this taskforce as long as is required, until these
criminal cowards are surgically removed from the streets of Sydney
and put where they belong and that is behind bars."
AN UPDATE ON THE KARL SULEMAN CASE IN AUSTRALIA
(ZNDA: Sydney) Periodically Zinda Magazine returns to the justice halls of Sydney, Australia and while keeping an eye on court proceedings against the Assyrian entrepreneur, Karl Solomon, provides readers with fresh insight into the trial.
According to the minutes of meeting of creditors of Karl Suleman Enterprizes on Monday, 3 March 2003 in Sydney, the year 2002 was spent mainly in gathering information and publicly examining individuals in relation to the financial affairs of Mr. Karl (Khalid) Suleman. In February 2003, the Australian Securities and Investment Commisson began taking actions against the major agents and advisors.
Horwath, an association of independent accounting practices in Australia, in a report explains the flow of money in and out of Karl Suleman Enterprizes (KSE) bank accounts as follows (m = million, $ = Australian Dollar):
• Investors contributed a minimum of $138m. to the failed scheme
with $123m. passing through KSE bank accounts and $15m. identified
A difference of twenty eight million dollars still cannot be explained, but the Horwath investigators believe that these funds have probably been put back into the Froggy Group and the purchase of Karl Suleman’s lifestyle assets.
Paul Weston & Neil Cussen Liquidators on 31 October 2003 reported that claims totaling $38.8 million have been admitted in full or in part and a total of $970,312 has been distributed to investors. The timing of a second dividend wa not confirmed. They anticipate several hundred claims will ultimately be rejected.
The Liquidators’ report also explains that action against Ms.
Suzy David, Dominic David Stamfords and others in respect to their
role as legal advisor to Karl Suleman has begun. Suzy David is the
Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance. The claim
is similar to the claim against Philip Pham (and others) which was
commenced late 2002. Karl Suleman has been committed for trial next
year in respect to earlier charges laid against him. Mr. Adam Oshana’s
whereabouts are still unknown, according to the report, and he has
failed to respond to the claims against him. Recovery action was started
against a number of individuals.
ASSYRIAN MAN KILLED CROSSING A STREET IN LOS ANGELES
(ZNDA: Los Angeles) Jack Tarwardy — longtime owner of Jack's Shoe Repair in Playa del Rey, California — was struck and killed in a crosswalk near his Culver Boulevard shop at 5:55 p.m., Thursday, October 30th.
A city spokesman said street lights in the area of the accident had not been operating because of an earlier transformer fire.
The incident is highlighting concerns about pedestrian safety and traffic issues on Culver Boulevard in the Playa del Rey "village" area.
Tarwardy was 74 years old and lived in Hollywood, according to Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Detective Terry Pearson of the LAPD West Traffic Division.
Tarwardy had operated the shoe repair shop at 324 Culver Blvd. for more than 25 years.
On Friday, as word of the fatality spread in the area, mourners brought flowers and memorials to the shoe repair shop.
A memorial for Tarwardy is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., Sunday, November 9th, at La Marina, 119 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey.
Tarwardy was struck by an eastbound 1997 Buick as Tarwardy crossed Culver Boulevard at Pershing Drive.
The driver, a 19-year-old Playa del Rey woman, was not cited and no charges have been filed.
"She didn't see him," Pearson said. "It's a tragedy."
Tarwardy sustained massive blunt force trauma and was taken to Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:09 p.m., Pearson said.
Pearson said the incident is still under investigation.
Residents complained that street lighting was poor at the site of the accident.
"There have been no street lights for the past three nights," said local resident Larry Farris. "There should have been light at the crosswalk."
Sharon Sandow, field deputy to Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, said that a transformer fire occurred in the area the day before the incident and the streetlights had been shut off until the transformer could be fixed.
"The problem is being immediately remedied," Sandow said Friday, October 31st.
Tarwardy was considered "a fixture" in the Playa del Rey village, an eclectic area of apartments, small shops, service businesses and restaurants catering to the local beach community.
"Jack was part of the fabric of this town, a real character," said Bob Hughes, a local resident and acquaintance of Tarwardy.
"He had a great sense of humor and liked to tell women [customers] that he wouldn't fix their shoes very well because he wanted to see them again," Hughes said. "A lot of people have great stories to tell about him.
"It's a great loss for the community."
Farris said that Tarwardy had been trying to sell the shoe repair business and retire.
Hughes said Tarwardy often jokingly asked if Hughes wanted to buy Tarwardy's shoe repair business.
"When I'd say that I didn't know anything about repairing shoes, he'd say he didn't, either," Hughes said.
CLOSE CALLS — In the wake of the incident, many in the area feel that traffic problems in the congested village area have been ignored.
Area merchants and residents say they have had many "close calls" in the village because of the high volume and high speed of vehicles — especially commuters who pass through the village on their way to and from major roadways.
Shop owner Merry Duclos says she has tried in the past to get a signal at the crosswalk where Tarwardy was struck, but was told that the intersection was too close to another signalized intersection.
"A lot of people have been hit but nobody had been killed" when she requested the signal, Duclos said.
Farris said he recently witnessed an incident in which a dog being dropped off at a local grooming business ran into Culver Boulevard and was struck by a vehicle, but the dog's owner could not retrieve the injured dog for some time because other vehicles didn't stop.
"People don't stop and you can't get out of your driveway," Farris said.
Hughes echoed other comments that the area is in need of more pedestrian safety features.
"The traffic issue needs to be addressed," Hughes said. "There is habitual speeding and too much traffic, and nobody's watching.
"We need a blinking light at that crosswalk so drivers will at least put their feet over the brake and off the accelerator," Hughes said. "Maybe now something will be done, but it shouldn't take a tragedy" to focus attention on traffic issues.
Tarwardy is survived by his brother, William Tarwardy, of Hollywood; and sisters Tamara Moushoul and Valentina Karam, of Granada Hills.
A funeral service was conducted at 10:30 a.m. Friday, November 7th at St. Paul Assyrian Caldean Catholic Church, 13050 Vanowen St., No. Hollywood, 91605.
He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 6300 Forest Lawn Dr.,
YONADAM KANNA ON AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM
Mr. Yonadam Kanna, the official representative of the AssyrianChaldean Christians of Iraq and Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, is currently in London, England, conducting a series of high-level meetings with various British Government officials, Religious institutions and Royal Family members.
On Tuesday 11th November 2003 at 7.30am (GMT - London time), Mr. Kanna will appear on a 15-minute live interview on CNN, which is to be aired globally.
During the evening of Tuesday 11th November 2003, at the Assyrian House, from 8.00pm (GMT), Mr. Kanna will give an insight to our local community in to the issues surrounding everyday life in Iraq, in particular relating to our people, focusing on current circumstances and future aspirations. A question and answer session will follow. Various National and International newspapers as well as a number of well known TV stations have been invited to attend and I am happy to report that so far a good number have confirmed their attendance to the event. We hope to air the audio of the meeting at some point this week on PalTalk, in addition we will upload the video of the entire meeting on to www.zowaa.org in the very near future.
On Wednesday 12th November 2003 at 10.30am (GMT), Mr. Kanna will appear on a 30-minute live interview with SKY News, a popular satellite news station in the United Kingdom.
Further news and updates will follow shortly.
NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY IN SAN JOSE
The Assyrian American Association of San Jose proudly presents New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance with two Assyrian musical sensations: Ashur Betsargis & Julianna Jendoo.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The Westin Hotel
11-08-03 thru 11-22-03 $85 member $95 non-member
TICKET SALES BEGIN:
Saturday, November 08, 2003 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
The Assyrian American Association’s new home is located in the heart of Willow Glen on Lincoln Avenue, between Minnesota Avenue and Willow Street. The two story rustic brown color building in on the same side as Starbuck’s Coffee shop, which is located on the intersection of Lincoln and Minnesota. The Vin Santo restaurant is located on the first floor of our building.
*Please No children under the age of 12 *on site babysitting service is available
Purchase your ticket from the Assyrian American Association’s
ESTABLISHING A SECULAR IRAQ
As the new post-Saddam Iraqi government takes shape, there is growing
agreement among many in the administration that the country is likely
to become officially an Islamic republic when the new constitution
is drafted in coming months, according to informed sources in Iraq
and several administration officials.
[Joel Mowbray occasionally writes for The Washington Times. He is the author of the recently published, “Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security”.]
GIVE ASSYRISKA THE SWEDISH GRAND PRIZE!
It is the day after. I have spent 12 hours on the bus. A boring
game, a jittery ride, and a Jugoslav busdriver who cannot tell between
the E4 highway and R?sunda is still in my mind. It sounds sad.
This weekend I sat in the R?sunda soccerarena and it felt like an enormous Assyrian association. We were around 10,000 supporters.
The mood outside the arena, during the unloading of a bus after another, was fantastic as the drums were heard, flags were high up in the air, and people singing songs of joy. It was like the scene when the troops gathered before the last battle in the Tale of the Two Towers, where you could see the banners of the Assyrian people raised and putting an end to the oppression. The waiving of the banners and flags and siging led to the southern entrance of the arena. There was a lot of faith, hope, and an unruly will. No one there even imagined a loss in the game. Maybe that was the reason why most of us took it rather hard. Assyriska lost the game, but we won practically everything outside of it.
That is why I can only smile when anyone tries to maliciously gloat.
People think that it is only about soccer. You can be sure that
when people cry outside the arena when they see the flagg up high,
and hear the songs, that it is so much more. Last saturday it was
Assyriska, the team, Zelge, and all the suporters that together
joined in a great manifestation for the rights of the Assyrian people.
It encouraged the young ones to feel the pride in
We played in the final of the Swedish national Cup in front of the whole world, and the whole world wanted to watch. We were in the focus of the media as never before the whole week before the final. Everybode now knows about the Assyrians, and Assyriska. They all know that:
* we are from Beth-Nahrin, the land between the two rivers
Assyriska, is the positive Sweden, and that is why the attention has been so great.
I want to thank Assyriska S?dert?lje and their greatest fan club,
Zelge, for an amazing show that has been running since this summer,
from the day when we beat IFK Gothemburg on the day of the martyrs.
The climax was the long party the same saturday, 1 of November. While the rain of gold confetti fell from heaven we all sang ”Othur Ithwole arye gabore.” Thousands of Assyrians sang in unison.
It was the proudest moment of my life, Yuhanon Zhaco said in the interview. When I was a kid I dreamed of singing the national anthem i in an arena filled with people. That dream has been fulfilled.
Yuhanon held the microphone.
I myself get the shivers when I watch that short videosequence on auf.nu. The greatest happening, maybe of all times, came shortly after the second half started. For the thousands of Assyrians in the souther part of the arena, the sky suddenly transformed to a proud and enormous Assyrian flag and covered a 1500 scuare meters wide section, as it was lowered from the section above, as if lowered down by angels. It was might and beauty that ruled, though the true feeling is indescribable. At that moment I cared less about the result. “This was worth everything,” I thought to myself. All the hours in the bus, a boring loss of the game, a week of stress and nervosity and disappointment... it was worth all that.
When the sun in the Assyrian flag shined upon us over the arena of R?sunda, we were strong, united and proud. The first of November, history was made and the team of Assyriska and the Assyrian people have once and for all found a place in the consciousness of the Swedish people.
The weak tactics of Coach Conny’s that particular time was
a fact, as fear of the players, the level of seriousness, the players’
bad play, the nightmare at the start, was nothing we could have
changed. But, we did our best to support and encourage.
When Svenska Dagbladet, one of the largest newspapers in Sweden, gives its award for the sports accomplishment of the year, the Swedish womens national team that got the silver in the world cup of 2003, will be a politically correct choice. But many people know that the womens’ world cup is not much to talk about compard to the mens’ world cup. There are maybe 5-6 countries that fight for the gold medal, and Sweden is one of them. I am hereby nominating Assyriska S?dert?lje to receive the sports accomplishment of the year. Not just because of the strong sports accomplishments of beating three great teams of the highest divison in Sweden, but also for the reason of meaning and the importance of the team to all of the Assyrian people. And because the angels who sent the Assyrian flag to the world are called Zelge.
[Z-info: This article has appeared on www.auf.nu and was translated from Swedish by Moris Esa. Photo courtsy of Assyriska’s fan club site www.zelge.com ]
SIMO PARPOLA’S “THE ASSYRIAN PROPHESIES”
State Archives of Assyria: Vol. IX
The Neo-Assyrian prophecy corpus is extant on two kinds of clay tablets, which differ from each other in size and in shape. Texts 1-4 are relatively large, vertical tablets containing several oracles in two or three columns. Nos. 5-8 are smaller, horizontal in shape and contain only one oracle each. By its format, no. 9 belongs with nos. 1-4, although it contains one oracle only; nos. 10-11 are fragmented tablets. The 28 oracles can be assigned on the basis of the extant authorship indications to (13) different prophets, (4) of whom are male and (9) female. The comparatively high number of women is paralleled by the prominence of prophetesses and female ecstatics in Mari and OT prophecy, as well as in Gnosticism and early Christianity. (8) of the prophets come from Arbela, (2) from Ashur, (1) from Calah (Nimrod), possibly (1) from Nineveh, and (1) from a town "in the mountains".
The original text of the Assyrian prophecies which was published by George Smith in 1875 under 'Addresses of encouragement to the Assyrian king Esarhaddon' did not in the beginning attract any attention. The first to recognize its significance was Alphonso Delattre who published it in 1888 in an article entitled 'The Oracles given in favor of Esarhaddon.' Later Pinches, in 1891, published another article about the same subject labeled 'The Oracle of Ishtar of Arbela'. It was virtually still unknown to biblical scholars hundred years after its discovery even though it provides a much closer parallel to Old Testament prophecy than the early 2nd millennium prophetic texts of Mari, now well known to every serious biblical scholar. Many attribute this to the misleading terminology. Assyriologists have applied the labels 'oracle' and 'prophecy' to other texts unrelated to inspired prophecy, hence when this collection came out it was neglected too. Some tried to argue that since these prophecies appeared during the reign of Esarhaddon, then it was related to the deportations from Israel under Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II, and thus an 'import from the West'. But this is untenable and has to be rejected since the prophecies have a tight link to the cult of Ishtar and Assyrian royal ideology, mythology and iconography, hence a genuinely an Assyrian phenomenon.
Dr Parpola writes " For all their similarities, Assyrian and Biblical prophecies have one conspicuous difference, and it appears to be fundamental. While the biblical prophets proclaim the word of Yahweh, the god of Israel presented as the only true God, the Assyrian prophets do not proclaim the word of their national god, Ashur. In most cases the oracular deity is Ishtar, the goddess of love, but other deities, both male and female, also appear in this capacity in the texts. Ashur speaks only once in the corpus. As far as I can see, he says, nobody seems to have ever been bothered by this state of affairs. On the contrary, it seems to have been taken as the most natural thing in the world, a simple reflection of the contrast between the monotheistic religion of Israel on the one hand, and the 'pagan' polytheistic religion of Assyria on the other." However, Dr. Parpola writes; "a closer acquaintance with the texts reveals a number of difficulties with this view. Leaving aside the fact that the content of the prophecies has absolutely nothing to do with 'fertility' or 'vegetation cults,' the multiplicity of oracular deities appearing in them is largely illusory."
In oracle 1.4, the deity first speaks as Bel, then as Ishtar of Arbela, and finally as Nabu, the son of Bel and the keeper of celestial records. It is as if in this short oracle the deity were repeatedly putting on new masks to suit the changing themes of the discourse, and one cannot help being reminded of the Holy Trinity of Christianity, where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are explained as different hypostases of one indivisible Divine Being. Similar shifts in the identity of the oracular deity are also observable in other oracles of the corpus as well as in other contemporary texts.
Most important, in no. 3, a collection of oracles referred to in the text as "the covenant tablet of Ashur," the identities of Ashur and Ishtar blend in an unexpected and absolutely baffling way.. Oracle 3.3, in accordance with its central position in the text, constituted the essence of the "covenant tablet of Ashur". However, in the very next oracle 3.4, it is not Ashur but Ishtar of Arbela who actually concludes the covenant. In a scene reminiscent of the Last Supper, the Goddess invites "the gods, her fathers and brothers" to a covenant meal, in the course of which she addresses them as follows: "You will go to your cities and districts, eat bread and forget this covenant. (But when) you drink from this water, you will remember me and keep this covenant which I have made on behalf of Esarhaddon." the formulation of the passage makes it clear that Ishtar is not acting as a mere mediator here. The covenant in question is between her and the other gods -- it is her covenant with "the gods, her fathers and brothers." Accordingly, the phrasing of oracle 3.4, considered with 3.3, unquestionably implies that, in a way or another, Ashur and Ishtar were considered identical by the author of the text. On the other hand, in no. 3.2 and other oracles of the corpus, the Goddess refers to Ashur in the third person and thus evidently as a distinct divine entity. This creates a theological problem that seems serious indeed: How can two gods at the same time appear as identical yet distinct entities in one and the same text? The solution to the problem lays in the Assyrian concept of God, which defined Ashur-- "the only, universal God"-- as "the totality of gods." Ashur himself was beyond human comprehension. Man could know him only through his powers pervading and ruling the universe, which, though emanating from a single source, appeared to man as separate and were accordingly hypostatized as different gods. On the surface, then, Assyrian religion, with its multitude of gods worshiped under different names, appears to us as polytheistic; on a deeper level, however, it was monotheistic, all the divine deities being conceived of as powers, aspects, qualities, or attributes of Ashur, who is often simply referred to as "(the) God." On the human level, the underlying doctrine of God's "unity in multiplicity" mirrored the structure of the Assyrian empire -- a heterogenous multi-national power directed by a superhuman, autocratic king, who was conceived of as the representative of God on earth. The idea of God as "the sum total of gods" is attested in various parts of the ancient Near East already in the 6th century BC, and later in several Hellenistic and Oriental philosophies and religions (e.g., Platonism, Orphism, Neoplatonism, Hinduism, Tantrism). It certainly also was part and parcel of first-millennium BC Jewish monotheism, as shown by the biblical designation of "God," elõhîm, which literally means "gods." What is more, the idea of a divine council is well attested in the Bible and unquestionably formed an essential component of the imagery of Jewish prophets from the earliest times through the end of biblical prophecy. Consider, for example, the following passage, quoting words of the mid-ninth-century prophet Micaiah: Now listen to the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD seated on his throne, with all the host of heaven in attendance on his right and on his left. The LORD said, "Who will entice Ahab to attack and fall on Ramoth-gilead?" One said one thing and one said another; then a high spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, "I will entice him." "How?" said the LORD. "I will go out," he said, "and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets." "You shall entice him," said the LORD, "and you shall succeed; go and do it." You see, then, how the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, because he has decreed disaster for you. The key elements of this vision --God, seated on his throne, presiding over and conversing with a heavenly council or court-- not only recur in most major biblical prophets and Job, but in later Jewish and Christian traditions as well, from post-exilic times down to medieval Kabbalah. Several further elements of biblical imagery (e.g., a furnace or lamp burning at the throne of God, a succession of heavens and heavenly palaces, ladders leading to them, heavenly gates and gatekeepers, and a heavenly city and kingdom) likewise continue as integral elements of later Jewish and Christian traditions, and what is particularly important in this context, they also figure prominently in the Assyrian prophecy corpus and Mesopotamian cosmic geography at large.
The various celestial beings or spiritual entities populating the heavens in Christianity and Judaism are explained partly as creations, partly as hypostases of God. In Christian dogma, angels and saints belong to the former category; God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit to the latter. In early Jewish mysticism, by contrast, angels are conceived as powers of God, and they are actually invoked as (quasi) independent gods in Jewish magical texts of the early first millennium AD. The fundamental unity of all divine powers is, however, basic to Judaism, and is encoded in its central symbol, the menorah, now well established as derived from the Ancient Near Eastern sacred tree or "Tree of Life." Though the Tree itself is well known from the Bible and has a prehistory reaching long back into pre-exilic times, its precise symbolism was long kept secret from the masses and therefore surfaces only in medieval Jewish mysticism Kabbalah. The Tree of Life of Kabbalah is a multi-layered symbol in which the metaphysic structure of the universe (macrocosm) and the model of the perfect man (microcosm) converge as the "image" of God. It is composed of ten divine powers called sefirot ("[primordial] numbers," lit., "counting"), defined as aspects or attributes of God and systematically associated with parts of his "body," so as to constitute an anthropomorphic whole. It thus effectively depicts God as the "sum total" of his divine powers, "gods".
From the viewpoint of Assyrian prophecy, it is of crucial importance that the tree with its entire associated doctrinal apparatus can be based on a Mesopotamian model perfected in Assyria in the 2nd millennium BC. That this model could be made an integral part of Jewish religious thought underlines the basic similarity of the Assyrian and biblical concepts of God. The Assyrian sacred tree, which occasionally takes an anthropomorphic form, can be analyzed as consisting of the "great gods" of the Assyrian pantheon and taken as a schematic representation of the "divine assembly," with Ishtar occupying the "heart" of this divine "body." Like the sefirot, the "great gods" making up the tree were prominently associated with numbers. This fact gives the tree an important mystical dimension. Equipped with this information, we can now return to the problem of the identity of Ashur and Ishtar left pending above. On the surface level, we have a scene in oracle 3.4 in which the prophet, personifying Ishtar, administers a ritual meal to gods summoned from various cities and districts of Assyria to participate (along with the respective governors and vassal kings) in a divine covenant in favor of Esarhaddon. On the allegorical level, this corresponds to a meeting of the divine council, convened to terminate a period of divine wrath with Assyria and to initiate a new era under the rule of a savior king, Esarhaddon. On a deeper, mystical level, the passage describes a process taking place within Ashur himself, with Ishtar, the "heart" of his cosmic body, playing a key role in the process. The same pattern of thought is reflected in Tablet XI of the Gilgamesh Epic, which tells that the heart of the convened great gods induced them to cause the Flood, and later specifies that it was Ishtar who commanded it. Thus, while Ishtar in the oracle appears as the primus motor of the covenant, it was the council in its entirety, that is, Ashur himself, who concluded it. All things considered, the conceptual framework of Assyrian prophecy emerges as largely identical with that of ancient Israelite prophecy. Both shared the same basic concept of God as "the sum total of gods" and the same religious concepts and imagery.
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