By: Hanna Hajjar
1. At the time of Seyfo, the Syriac Orthodox Church had two name in English: a- “Syrian Orthodox Church” (used in the Middle East & India), and b- “Assyrian Orthodox Church” (used in the USA). The difference was that one was transliterated (example: Hanna), and the other translated (example: John), in other words they both meant the same.
2. The writers of the booklet mention “Syriac People”, and call it the “Syriac Genocide”, however the term Syriac was introduced in the latter part of the 20th century to differentiate the church followers from people of other ethnicities who live in modern Syria, and are named Syrians too. Syriac is derived from “Syriacus” in Latin meaning the language spoken by Syrians (similar to Arabic is the name of a language spoken by Arabs). In other words there is no such thing as an ethnic Syriac people, but rather peoples who speak the Syriac language (or use Syriac liturgy). Hence “Syriac Genocide” would technically imply a massacre of the Syriac language and not people, while the atrocities of the Ottomans and Kurds during World War One (WWI) were against people, and not against a language; therefore the first mistake is in the titles! Sure they might have their own definition for “Syriac” to be Aramean, but the fact remains that not every Syriac is an Aramean. So in essence there is a disagreement on the term Syriac to start with, and that is the core of the problem within the Syriac Church.
3. They writers seem to have a discrepancy problem between the English and Arabic versions of their booklet, where they have contradiction in defining the boundaries of “Syria”, due to the fact that the borders of Syria changed throughout history. Hence it is very important to have a standard understanding of what Syria means during different periods of history, otherwise people won’t be communicating at the same wavelength. (Please refer to my table “Territorial Terminologies & Timeline”).
4. The booklet refers over and over to the “Levant”, (where the Levant is the region west of the Euphrates River, namely the Roman-Syria province, or Bilad Al-Sham in Arabic), even though no genocide took place in the Levant! So either the writers don’t know what Levant means, or they are trying to shift the location of the genocide, because the Seyfo-1915 Genocide didn’t take place in the Levant, it took place in Mesopotamia! Apparently they are barking at the wrong tree! The only thing that happened in the Levant was that the Ottomans rounded up some 100 Arab activist and nationalists and hung them in Beirut and Damascus on May 6th 1916, and this incident is known to the Arabs as Yawm Al-Shuhada’ (or Martyr’s Day). On the other hand the actual Seyfo Genocide occurred earlier, and took place hundreds of miles away in Upper Mesopotamia, in the heart of Assyria, in 1915. It seems that the Arameans got their coordinated messed up, and they need to take a deep breath and recheck their compass!
5. Some people might argue that now that the term “Syriac” also might mean people, but even if that is the case, we need to ask ourselves which people? Their Booklet talks about the Levant, and that narrows it down to a specific geographical territory which is the Roman-Syria Province located west of the Euphrates all the way to the Mediterranean Sea (known in Arabic as Bilad Al-Sham). This would imply that they are talking about the Syriac speakers of the Levant, but how many people spoke Syriac in that region in 1915 other than Ma’lula and couple of villages next to it? Again the Levant did not suffer from any massacres during WWI, the actual massacres took place in Anatolia and upper Mesopotamia! So why was there a shift in changing its name from Assyrian Genocide to Syriac Genocide? Was it to please a certain group (i.e. the so called Arameans), or their lack of knowledge about seyfo, or a hidden political agenda to offer the Syrian Arab regime a bargaining chip to use against Turkey (especially that they are not at good terms since the beginning of the Syrian civil war)? I don’t know the answer, the writers of the booklet need to clarify that!
6. It is important to note that the church that is currently known by the Syriac name was not known as such at the turn of the 20th Century, simply because it was not in contact with the western world. The common names that its people were known by were Suryani or Suryani-Kadim or Asuri by the Ottomans, Al-Suryan by the Arabs, and Asori by the Armenians, and Persians. The British through their contact with the Indian branch of this church gave the name Syrian to the Indians who follow the same faith, (most probably in reference to the See of Antioch which was considered to be in Syria) and then used that name in English to mean the Syriac Church. The Turks differentiate Suryani from Suryali, where Suryani (or Suryani-Kadim, meaning ancient-Suryani) was associated with Assyrians, and Suryali was associated with the non-Assyrians who lived in the Levant since there was a Suria Vilayet/Province (in the Levant) in the Ottoman Empire. Yet all those names were variations of Assyrian which the Greeks Hellenized had coined as Syrian, which the Romans applied later only to the Levant. Nevertheless. Just as the followers of the Syrian Church in India is made of ethnic Hindu Indian, so are the followers of the same church in upper Mesopotamia are Assyrians, and the followers of the same church in the Levant are Arameans. Notice here that we seem to agree on one important thing, and that is the Syriac people in the Levant are ethnically Arameans, and the Syriac people in upper Mesopotamia are ethnically Assyrians.
7. To further narrowing it down, we can say that the term Seyfo-1915 is a nickname of the Assyrian genocide in WWI that took place in upper Mesopotamia, spanning from 1914, to 1918 AD. The genocide was nicknamed as Seyfo (meaning Sword) because most of the victims were killed by the sword (sort of similar to the way ISIL beheads their victims, as seen on Youtube). However Seyfo is not the name of the massacres prior or after WWI, (i.e. it is not about the massacres of 1895 in the 19th century, nor about the current civil war in Syria, nor about the current victims in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in Iraq. Yet we see that the booklet dedicated many pages about the massacres of 1895 in 19th century. If that is part of Seyfo, then the centennial of 1895 should have been commemorated 20 years earlier in the year 1995 and not 2015! It might have been OK if the 1895 massacres were established as the backdrop for introduction purposes, but to dedicate more pages for the 1895 than the 1915 massacres tells us that the writers are either not focused, or maybe didn’t have enough material to fill in for WWI so they used 1985 as filler, or they were straying from the topic, or catering to their own agenda, or barking at the wrong tree!
8. In the Introduction on page 7, there was a quote that attracted my attention: QUOTE: This people, before and after Christianity, were leaders in dramatically carrying the Cross and declaring the Message of peace and love as taught by Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” UNQUOTE. Two contradictory things:
a. Notice the word “Before”, in other words they are claiming that they were Christians before Christ was even born, and they were spreading Christianity before Jesus even preached and introduced his message!
b. Then notice the quote from Matthew 28:19, if that is true and they were practicing it, then it would imply that the Syriac Church would be a “Multi-Ethnic” church and not a pure Aramean church only, as they claim later! Because it they were pure Arameans then they must have preached and baptized Arameans only, and never approached other nations as Jesus asked them to!
9. On page 8, the booklet defines Syriacs as being the descendants of (one man) Aram who is the son of Sam (Shem) the grandson of Noah. Well, doesn’t this contradict the above quote of “Matthew 28:19”? What happened to “All Nations”? Were those other nations expelled from the church, or were they never approached? And if either one is true, then that implies that the Church never followed the teachings of Jesus! Because if the Syriac Orthodox spread the gospel in upper Mesopotamia then definitely all their members there would have been Assyrians, because that was the heartland of Assyrians, in fact in the writings of Mar Aday (the first missionary to Upper Mesopotamia), we are told that lots were drawn, and Assyria was allocated to Mar Aday!
10. Now let’s look at how this theory of “Descendants of Aram” works? Assuming that the story of the Flood is true (I am taking their word for it), then the only survivors on the face of the earth were Noah his family, and a bunch of animals on the ark! Now let’s do the math: Noah, his wife, his three children: Sam (Shem), Ham, Japheth, and their wives, that makes a total of eight human beings. Now after the flood the ark landed on a Mount Ararat, and the three children of Noah started making babies to populate the earth, three couples in the whole world! Sam had five children: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. Ham had four children: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. Japheth had seven children: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek, and Tiras. In other words at this time there were 24 people on the face of the earth, and assuming that they had daughters but not listed. That was when Aram had four children: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. The question is who did the children of Aram marry? Did they practice incest and inbred to keep the purity of the Aramean race? Or did they intermarry with the children of their uncles or other relatives? The answer is very simple, if the Arameans are a pure race, then they must have inbreeded, and to inbreed for thousands of years would have produced a genetically deformed offspring. On the other hand if they are not deformed then they must have intermarried with others, and hence they are not a pure race! Either way the pool was so small, no different than the population of a small tiny village in Tur-Abdin. And we know for a fact that in such a case, all the people of such small villages are related to each other through marriage. Now can any so called Aramean prove that there was no intermarriage between the children of Aram and the children of Asshur since the time of the flood? As you see their whole theory of Aram son of Shem is impossible for them to prove, hence it is rendered meaningless! Their Aramean only theory also contradicts the claim of the previous Patriarch Mar Yacoub III, who wrote in the opening of his book about the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, stating that the Syriac people constitute of Assyrians and Arameans. And so did the historian Mar Mikhael Rabo mention that the Syrians are Assyrians and Arameans. (i.e. Arameans in the Levant, and Assyrians in Upper Mesopotamia).
11. The booklet mentions that Armeans were present in Levant in 15th century BC, but does not mention that they were in southern Syria, in the Syrian Desert, or Badiat Al-Sham. Nor does it mention that there were other nations in the Levant before the arrival of the Arameans form the Syrian Desert (Badiat Al-Sham)! People like the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Hebrews, Eblaites, Amorites, Nabateans, Greeks, and Hittites! So did they intermarry, or were they segregated, or did the Arameans massacre and replace them? The point is that painting with a wide brush and labeling everyone in the Levant to be Aramean is misleading to say the least.
12. Here is another contradiction: According to Isaac Saka on pages 8 & 9, QUOTE: After the Aramean converted to Christianity, and as they were very faithful and proud of their new religion, they denounced their old name (i.e. Arameans) and adopted the name Syriac which gave them their religious identity instead of the name Aramean that denoted paganism, thus differentiated themselves from the Arameans that remained pagans. UNQUOTE.
Here is the problem: The name Syria was coined by the Greeks from Assyria, and the Seleucid Greeks established a kingdom called Syria that covered a territory that was roughly the Assyrian Empire, and that was established in 323 BC and lasted till 64 BC when the Romans took over part of it, stopping at the Euphrates River. Hence the Roman-Syria Province covered the Levant region and that was roughly the size of the Land of Aram. It was during the time of the Roman Empire that Christianity spread by 33 AD, hence the writers of the New Testament used that Roman-Syria province Levant region as the definition for their Syria, and that Syria was much smaller than Greek-Syria. In simple terms: Roman-Syria consisted of the Levant which was equal to the Lands of Aram + Phoenicia + Canaan (Judea & Samaria), while the Greek-Syria was equal to the Levant + Upper Mesopotamia which was Assyria, + Lower Mesopotamia which was Babylonia, + East of the Tigris River to the Zagros Mountains which was Assyrian too. Now let’s do the math: 323 BC + 64 BC + 33 AD = 420 years between when the name Syria was coined by the Greeks, and the time it was used by the Arameans after the spread of Christianity (According to Isaac Saka). So if the Arameans waited 420 years to adopt the Syrian/Syriac name (i.e. after they became Christians), and we all know that Christianity didn’t spread instantaneous, it took several centuries, so the number is even higher than 420 years.
Therefore we can conclude that the Arameans were late users of the name Syrian/Syriac, while the Assyrians were already using that name for at least 420 years before them, simply because it was a variation of their name “Assyrian”. So how can the Arameans claim the Syrian/Syriac name exclusively when others have been using it before them? In other words the Arameans got lost in the pool of those nations using the term Syrian, once they joined in.
13. Here is the funny thing, on page 8 at footnote #2, they contradict Isaac Saka’s claim above by saying QUOTE: The name Syriac/Syrian and Syria became anonymous with the Arameans before Christ, and it became clear in the Seleucid era when the Septuagint translation of the old testament was completed (280 BC), in which the name “Aram” and “Syria” were used interchangeably. Therefore, the name Syriac/Syrian became known for the Aramean people and after Christ it became a religious and cultural name for the same people; Cultural identity as being Aramean descent and religious identity as being Christian. Thus, every Syriac is Christian and not vice versa. UNQUOTE.
They need to make their mind! Did Arameans change their name before or after becoming Christians? Because if they did it before then they were already carrying the Syrian name when Christianity spread later, and hence they can’t claim that they changed their name after Christianity. And what’s the big deal of the Aramean being Pagan, when every nation on earth were pagans before adopting Christianity, and yet they didn’t drop their pagan name after becoming Christians! The Greeks and Romans were pagans before Christianity, and didn’t change their name afterwards. This makes us believe that there was another reason, and that is, the Syrian name was imposed on them.
14. Now let’s take a closer look at “Septuagint”. By definition QUOTE: Septuagint (sometimes abbreviated LXX) is the name given to the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures. The Septuagint has its origin in Alexandria, Egypt and was translated between 300-200 BC. Widely used among Hellenistic Jews, this Greek translation was produced because many Jews spread throughout the empire were beginning to lose their Hebrew language. UNQUOTE.
Note the mention of “Helenistic Jews”, and not “Pagan Arameans”. What does that mean: Prior to Christianity the Arameans were Pagans, and they were not Jewish, hence the Septuagint was irrelevant to them, simply because:
• First, the Arameans didn’t practice Judaism, and the Jewish Old Testament was never used in their pagan temples of Addad.
• Second, the Arameans didn’t speak Greek (which was the language of Septuagint). So weather the Jews equated “Syria” and “Aram” in the Old Testament that was irrelevant to the Arameans, since Arameans were pagans before the coming of Christ and didn’t use the OT.
• Third, the earliest time that the Arameans were exposed to the Old and/or New Testament was after 33 AD and that was only their priests through the Syriac Pshita version of the Gospel, noting that the average Aramean didn’t read and write. So how can anyone use the Septuagint argument as a proof that Arameans used the name Syrian, when the Arameans didn’t touch the Bible before they became Christians?
• Fourth, even at later dates, the Septuagint was not widely spread, because books were not published in printing presses back then, they were very scarce due to being written by hand, so an average Aramean wouldn’t have seen a Bible unless he was a priest let alone a Bible in Greek. So even if the Septuagint equated “Aram” and “Syria” and used them interchangeably, that means nothing when Arameans haven’t heard of it. It is like saying that Einstein created the theory of relativity, that doesn’t make the Arameans expert in that if they haven’t read, studied, and understood his theory! Add to that, it doesn’t negate other nations using the term Syria, since Seleucid Greek-Syria covered the whole Middle East (like the Assyrian Empire), and at one time extending through Persia, and had at least 20 different ethnicities living in it. So why would Syrian mean Aramean exclusively, when there are 20 other ethnic groups that equally identified themselves as Syrians too?
15. During the Seleucid period, the Arameans were in a sea of other ethnicity, and all were speaking Aramaic, it started in 700 BC when the Assyrian Empire established Aramaic as their official language and enforced it all over their empire, by doing that they diffused the Aramean ethnic identity, where from that date on different ethnic groups spoke Aramaic, 20 different ethnic were citizens of Greek-Syria at that time, namely: Assyrian, Aramean, Chaldean, Hurrian, Mitanni, Akkadian, Amorite, Hittite, Phoenician, Canaanite, Hebrew/Jewish, Sumerian, Eblaite, Subartian, Nabatean, Philistine, Greek, Arab, Persian, or Medes, so the odds for a Syrian to be Aramean is 1 in 20, or 5%, to say the least. Even if the Arameans were a majority in the Levant, but beyond that they were a minority. Nevertheless, the name Syria was derived from Assyria, and Assyrians were the main ones using the name Syrian, after all it was a variation of their name. The Assyrians didn’t use the name Syrian after they became Christians; they used the name “Syrian” before Christianity, and later after Christianity! Every nation on earth were pagans, and all kept their ancestral name, hence the only explanation why Arameans adopted the name Syria was that, first they were Assyrianized, later the Greeks, and then the Romans imposed the Syrian (a variation of Assyrian) name over the Arameans, and shoved it down their throat.
16. If the Arameans were so ashamed of their ancient pre-Christian name and heritage to denounce them (the way a Godfather denounces Satan, during baptism), then why are the so called Arameans trying to revive what their ancestors had denounced and got rid of? Are they trying to turn the Syriac Church into Paganism? Check the meaning of Aramay/Oromoyo in Syriac dictionaries, it literarily means Pagan, (i.e. Kafir), hence associating Aram with the Syriac Church would be a blasphemy, because it would be associating it with paganism which contradicts Christianity, especially that is what Aramean means in Syriac dictionaries.
17. On page 9, it is mentioned that St. Peter the Apostle established the Holy See of Antioch in the year 37 AD. And the Syriac church Patriarchs are his successors, but they didn’t mention that the Syriac Church was kicked out from Antioch by the Arameans, and it seek refuge in Mardin in upper Mesopotamia in the heartland of Assyria amongst its Assyrian followers, and not in the land of Aram in the Levant.
18. Here is where it gets funny! On page 10, they were supposed to talk about Seyfo-1915, which occurred in Upper Mesopotamia, instead they start with when the Ottomans entered in the Levant in 1516 AD after the battle of Marj Dabeq, when in fact upper Mesopotamia (the location of the genocide) was already under Ottoman control. The question is why are the writers of the booklet beating around the bush and trying to insert the Levant (west of the Euphrates River, which consists of the western part of modern Syria, plus Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, and Jordan), in Seyfo-1915 when there was no genocide carried out in that Levant! The reader is not interested in reading the full history of the Ottomans Empire and their conquests, that’s not related to the topic of the booklet, the writers were supposed to concentrate on and focus on the genocide in the geographical location where it took place, during the time period it took place.
Then they claim that the Ottomans subjected the Christians to the Jizya (Poll Tax), when in fact that wasn’t something new that started in the year 1516, because the Christians of the Middle East were subjected to Jizya since 634 AD (i.e. 882 years earlier) and specifically since the Battle of Al-Yarmook, after which the Arabs conquered Syria and Iraq and enforced the Jizya on all Christians. Why are they blaming the Ottomans only and exonerate the Arabs, when both enforced the Jizya collection on Christians, and both occupied the Middle East and mistreated the Christians at certain times, and occasionally treated them better at other times. The fact remains that their Christians subjects were never treated as equals to Moslem subjects, neither during the Umayyis and Abbasid Arab Empires, nor during the Ottoman Empire, Christians were always treated as second class citizens by them! In fact the Umayyids Arabs and specifically the Caliph Abd Al-Malik Bin Murwan when he checked Bait Al-Mal (the Treasury), and found out that its funds had dropped compared to the previous year, he asked for the reason? And was told that the numbers of Christians had dropped due to conversion to Islam, and hence they were exempt from paying Jizya. So he ordered that all foreign Christians (i.e. who are non-Arabs), still have to pay Jizya even if they convert to Islam. As a result of that, Assyrian Christians who converted to Islam started seeking Arab Sheikhs and bribe them, so that those Sheikhs would claim them as being members of their Arab tribes, and through that loophole they didn’t pay Jiya, but were completely Arabized, through language, religion, and even tribalized. And that is the reason why all countries that accepted Islam, kept their ancient ethnic identity, with the exception of Syria and Iraq where they were completely Arabized through claiming to belong to certain tribes that came from the Arabian Peninsula, when in fact when neither they nor their ancestors have ever seen Arabia. The damage that the Umayyid did surpassed that of the Ottomans, since they destroyed the culture of a nation, while the Ottomans and the Kurds destroyed lives.
19. On page 11, the booklet mentions that the Ottomans came up with a “Conspiracy Theory”, claiming that Christians were having alliances to outside powers. And questions if Europeans had forged those fabrications! Well, if in 100 years from the time Seyfo occurred, the writers of the booklet haven’t researched this issue to come up with a conclusion, that means that they are not qualified to educate people about the Seyfo Genocide; they haven’t done their homework, and now they look like the blind leading the blind! Again, linking that to the Levant, where in the Arabic version they even list some names such as: Ibrahim Al-Yaziji, Butros Al-Bustani, Najib Azouri. Those were poets who wrote in Arabic and had no influence in Upper Mesopotamia especially that the people of Upper Mesopotamia didn’t speak much Arabic except in Mardin, and no one in Mardin has heard of those Arab poets; even the Ottomans didn’t associate those poets with the Assyrians of Upper Mesopotamia.
20. On page 12, the booklet states that QUOTE: the ottomans issued decreed and sent orders for attack upon the Syriacs in the region (of Anatolia). UNQUOTE. Well, there was no conflict between Ottomans and Syriacs, (if the writers of the booklet have a copy of any such decreed/order, please publicize it). The fact is that no decree or order mentioning Syriacs were ever issued. The actual conflict was between Ottomans and Armenians, and it spilled over the Assyrians when Kurds got involved and indiscriminately attacked all Christians. In other words the conflict started by others and the Assyrians paid the price, as to Arameans, they were not even in the picture. The Arameans were in the Levant, where no genocide took place. Furthermore if there were any Aramean victims of Seygo-1915, then Mor Severius Afram Barsom (the representative of the Syrian Orthodox Church at the conference), would have mentioned them in his memo to the League of Nations at Paris in 1919-1920, but he didn’t. The Bishop specifically mentions Assyrians by name in his memo, but there was no mention of Arameans, not even a hint.
21. Finally after 12 pages of Blah, Blah, Blah, the writers finally mention the actual location of the genocide on page 12, QUOTE: northeast region of Syria, southeast parts of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. UNQUOTE. In other words all that talk about the Levant in previous pages had nothing to do with the Seyfo Genocide! And then they jump back to the Levant once more, and talk about how Christians there (i.e. the Maronites and Rom Orthodox, since there were no Syriac Orthodox there prior to 1915 except in few villages near Homs [i.e. Sadad, & Fayruza], and Jerusalem), contributed to the “Arab Awakening”, (Al-Nahda Al-3arabiyya). Well, Assyrians didn’t contribute to any “Arab Awakening”, because prior to 1915 they were living in upper Mesopotamia away from Arabs, and none of them considered themselves to be Arabs, and only the Syriacs of Mardin spoke a dialect of Arabic, while the Assyrians of Tur-Abdin spoke Turoyo-Assyrian, and the Syriac Orthodox Assyrians of Urfa, Diyarbakir, Antab, Adyaman, Maltya, Severak, Adana, spoke Turkish and Armenian. Those people when they arrived as refugees in Syria, had a problem understanding Arabic, it took them several years to learn how to speak it, and now the writers are claiming that they initiated the “Arab Awakening” Who are they kidding? In fact Professor Ashur Yusuf in Kharpout published the “Murshi Ashuri” magazine, and in fact he was the first Suryoyo-Assyrian to be executed by the Ottomans. Yet he is not mentioned in the booklet, even though he was the first Syriac Orthodox executed, and instead the booklet mentioned names of people who are not even Syriac Orthodox, so why are they mentioned in the booklet when no Syriac Orthodox was mentioned by name!
22. What made me laugh was the statement on page 14 (and still they haven’t told the reader anything substantial about Seyfo). QUOTE: …and those missionaries played a major role in dividing the Christians in the East which ultimately resulted in the weakening of the Christian Church in the Levant. UNQUOTE. They must be joking! Notice the term “Levant”! Even if we (for the sake of argument) assume that the writers were right, and that the so called missionaries weakened the Church there, then how could that affect the Syriac Church when it had a negligible presence in the Levant prior to 1915? Did the writers know what they were writing about? They don’t seem to know the demographics of their Syriac Church back then, not even the geography, and they want to teach people about the Seyfo Genocide which occurred in a different region? Hello! There was no Genocide in the Levant! There is a saying in Arabic that applies exactly to their situation: Shu dakhal toz bi marhaba? For heaven’s sake go study geography, and history, and then try to lecture people!
23. Then they jump to the Balkans and mention Vienna and Austria in 1750 AD, 165 years earlier! Finally on page 15 they arrive at Seyfo-1915 but tag it with 1895! In other words 2/3 of the booklet, and we still have no clue what the Seyfo Genocide is about! And I didn’t deduct the space that the photos occupied! In other words the information of Seyfo if any will end up being less than 1/4 of the booklet!
24. Page 15, it is about the 1895 massacres that are technically before Seyfo by 20 years. Page 16, shows a table about the massacres of 1895, listing the names of city/villages plus the date of massacre, but no numbers of victims are mentioned, so I don’t know why did they bother to make the table if the reader has to dig for the number of victims himself! What do the massacres of 1895 have to do with the massacres of 1915? Their approach is like someone going to court to present a case about a car accident that occurred in 2014, and he presents the judge documents of a different accident that took place 20 year earlier, with a different car and different driver! Do those writers have any clue of anything?
25. Finally on page 17, they arrive at 1915 but still trying to easy-in, feeding the reader information a drop at a time! Page 18, shows a table for 1915 massacres listing city/village names and dates but no victim numbers, again same comment as above (a useless table without the number of victims).
26. Here is what adds insult to injury! On page 18, at the bottom they talk about Bishop Mor Severius Afram Barsom who attended the Paris conference of the League of Nations, in 1919, and 1920, they refer to a copy of a rare historical document that was presented to the conference back then. Ironically they didn’t show a copy of that original document, but rather an Excel generated Table 4 shown on page 19-20, listing the names of cities/villages number of victims but no dates. Noting that there were two memos presented to the League of Nations by the same bishop, but apparently they either are not aware of them, or they are aware of them but are trying to cover them up because in them he mentions the name of our people as “Assyrians”.
27. On Page 21, the booklet ends with a short conclusion and couple of quotes from the Bible! And that’s it! The reader is left wondering what the hell their booklet was about. That was the Seyfo Genocide presentation by the Syriac Orthodox Church! I couldn’t believe how those people took a serious topic, and turned it into a joke, in a booklet that adds insult to injury!
28. I thought of the contents of the booklet, and at first I felt very sad, and insulted because Assyrians were not mentioned, but then it hit me! I realized that they did the Assyrians the best favor ever. Because due to their lack of knowledge, their hatred to Assyrians, coupled with their stupidity, they themselves proved that there was no such thing as an Aramean Genocide. Because all they talked about was the Levant, (i.e. west of the Euphrates), associating themselves with that land assuming that they are Arameans, and that has nothing to do with Upper Mesopotamia where Assyrian lived, and suffered the Seyfo-1915 Genocide. So excellent, they were not talking about us Assyrians. Our Seyfo-1915 Assyrian Genocide took place in Upper Mesopotamia, which has nothing with their Aramean Genocide, we are two distinct ethnic groups, we have our own case, and they have their own, or whatever they call it to be. So thank God they didn’t mention Assyrians at all, because the writers of that booklet made the so called Aramean Genocide look like a joke! What a bunch of ignorant and fools, they shot themselves in the foot!
29. Talking about the Genocide, the least they could have done would have been to show few photocopies of original documents submitted by Bishop Mor Severius Afram Barsom (who later became a Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church), who attended the conference of Paris, in 1919 and 1920, They avoided that even in his Table 4, (noting that the Arabic version shows a typewriter document in Arabic but that was not the original document, since the League of Nations didn’t accept documents written in Arabic at that time. The only reason for not showing copies of documents was that an original photocopy would expose the fact that it was an ASSYRIAN delegation to the peace conference. They avoided that because it mentioned the Assyrian name, they avoided showing photo copies of his personal memos to the peace conference again because in those memos he clearly states that we are the descendants of the ancient Assyrian nation, and that would contradict their claim mentioned on page 8 of their booklet stating that the Syriacs are Arameans. In fact if you remove the Syriac Orthodox Assyrians victims from Table 4 the Aramean group will be left with nothing to claim, because if there were any Aramean victim, then Mor Severius Afram Barsom would have mentioned them in his memo in 1919-1920.
30. The Arameans had shot themselves in the foot in this booklet, they have no case! There was no Aramean genocide, and if they equate Syriac to Aramean then there was no Syriac genocide either! They can’t build a case from thin air! Let them produce one document mentioning the name Aramean! Let them present one official document mentioning the Aramean name! Syrian does not represent Aram exclusively, because if Roman-Syria represents Aram, yet Greek-Syria represents the Assyrian Empire, Syria was a multi-ethnic country. In fact Professor Brock mentioned that in his book the Hidden Pearl, stating that after 700 BC the Aramean ethnic identity disappeared from the face of the earth! One thing I have to give them credit for, and that is they proved what I have been always talking about over and over, that Arameans are the people of the Levant (west of the Euphrates), and in their booklet they mentioned Levant way many more times than they mentioned Upper Mesopotamia where we Assyrians came from after WWI.
31. Now let’s take a quick look at upper Mesopotamia in 1914, and just before the beginning of Seyfo in 1915. The Syriac Orthodox Church was concentrated in upper Mesopotamia between the Tigris River, and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, but that entire region was outside modern Syrian Republic. Syriac-Assyrians in Tur-Abdin in the east, spoke Turyo, while in Mardin, Asekh, Qilleth in the center spoke a dialect of Arabic, while in larger cities like Urfa, Diyarbakir, Antab, Malatia, Adyaman, Severak, Kharput, Qarabash, Adana, etc. to the west all spoke Turkish and Armenian, those people called themselves Asuri or Asori, (i.e. Assyrian) and their publications and poems of the time reflected that, they were mainly written in Ottoman Turkish with Arabic script. The national sentiment was Assyrian, and there was no mention of any Aramean identity or affiliation. In Mosul to the southeast spoke Arabic (the same dialect as spoken in Mardin), and in the Plains of Nineveh they spoke Sureth, but Mosul and its surroundings wasn’t affected by the genocide. Jerusalem plus Fairuza, and Sadad and few villages near Homs were in the Levant, they spoke Arabic, but even there the Assyrian identity was present, and many historical documents prove that namely the writings of the journalist Farid Nuzha, and the correspondence of St. Marcus Monastery in Jerusalem. So over all the Syriac Church had an Assyrian identity prior and during Seyfo-1915, and later up till the 1950s. The Aramean identity was created in the 1950s by some clergymen, and actively started in 1975. Aramism started with the pressure exerted by the Arab nationalist regimes in Syria and Iraq, which climaxed after the 1933 massacres of Simele, and with it they scared those clergymen and got them to their side.
On the other hand Assyrian identity was present among Church of the East followers in Hikkari in the east who spoke Swadaya, the same thing in Urmia and Salamas amongst Presbyterian Assyrians. As to Chaldeans in Mosul and the Plains of Nineveh in the southeast they spoke Sureth and their Assyrian identity was present in a form of Chaldo- Assyrians. In other words all the intellectuals with in the Syriac Orthodox & Catholics Churches, Church of the East, and Chaldean Catholic, and Presbyterian Churche were Assyrian nationalists, all of them suffered equally during the Seyfo-1915 Assyrian genocide, and after WWI they pooled together and sent a unified Chaldo-Assyrian delegation team to the peace conference of the League of Nations in Paris in 1919-1920.
32. It is strange how the preparer and producer the Seyfo Centennial booklet didn’t approach and consult the Seyfo Center and its President Dr. Sabri Atman an expert researcher on the topic of the Seyfo-1915 Assyrian Genocide! But apparently it seems that they wanted to represent the Aramean side only and they got their wish! And thank God they didn’t consult him, because the result was a booklet without substance representing Arameans only!
33. There were no maps as to where the genocide took place! There was no listing of the demands of the delegations after the genocide! There were no photos of the Ottoman leaders who ordered the massacres! There was no photos of which branch of the Ottoman army, and the identity of the irregular tribes that joined forces in conducting the genocide! There was no copy of the map that the delegation presented to the League of Nations in their demand! There is no future vision of what international laws entitle the genocide victims to demand! There were no photos of the monuments that were erected worldwide in commemoration of the Seyfo-1915 Genocide! This only proves that whoever put this booklet together they themselves didn’t know what they were writing about!
34. The documents that the writers of this booklet tried to hide, were the ones presented to the League of Nations on behalf of the Assyrian nation by Mor Severius Afram Barsom, ironically he was a Syriac Orthodox Bishop, who later became a Patriarch. So if anyone considers himself Aramean (and not Assyrian), then those document don’t apply to them! As simple as that!
Continued in Parts: III, IV, & V.