Zindalite Editorial On Sarhad Jammo

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Posted by pancho from pool0267.cvx24-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net ( on Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 9:37AM :


Last Thursday, at a meeting in Detroit, Michigan, attended by 300 Assyrians (including several non-Chaldeans), Bishop Sarhad Jammo of the St. Peter Diocese in San Diego- California in a divisive speech demanded the creation of a unique Chaldean political, cultural, and religious identity – detached from that of “Assyrian”. Fortunately, Mar Sarhad Jammo’s message has not been well received among the Chaldean groups. Yet, the question remains: “Why is the Chaldean Bishop from California so vehemently opposed to an “Assyrian” political identity?”

++++It's always puzzled me why we claim only Assyrians could have survived from that entire region...that every single Babylonian died out, while Assyrians remained. There was intermarriage and a lot of mixing going on between them...but Babylon was distinct and indeed Assyria vanished first, with a neo-Babylonian Empire surviving till Cyrus came along.

Last Thursday’s poorly orchestrated oratory did not divide the world opinion. Assyrians remain Assyrians and the Chaldean Catholic Church continues to be the most prominent Assyrian church. Some Chaldean extremists rejoiced, while non-Chaldean Assyrian fanatics accused the Bishop as the “modern-day Simko”.

The notion of “Chaldean ethnicity” as separate from the Assyrian nationality is intimately linked to the notion of Babylonian ethnicity and religion being separate from the Assyrian nationalism and religion. Mar Sarhad Jammo is well versed in the history of ancient Mesopotamia and has used this duality of our Mesopotamian characteristic to argue his idea of a new Chaldean/Babylonian identity that may one day transform his Church into a new nationality.

++++It gets tiresome to repeat but we have made a history of seeking other faiths, dividing and fighting among ourselves...even injecting foreign religious squabbles into our own communities. The precedent is well established for dividing...for flying apart, for seeking ever greater diversity etc. There is absolutely NO precedent for our remaining one thing inspite of all the world could do to us...we fly apart all by ourselves. Father Jammo has history on his side, OUR history, when he wants to divide us.

The fact however remains that there can be no pluralistic Assyrian identity without the Chaldean church and no Chaldean identity without the Assyrian sense of nationalism.

+++Assyrians in this sense means Christians. Christian Assyrians HAVE no sense of nationalism...they have a sense of religion. That isn't the same thing.

This inescapable reality troubled the two dozen or so Chaldean leaders in Detroit last Friday when a closed-door meeting was called by Bishop Jammo. He left the gathering without any conclusive support for his call to unity behind a new Chaldean political identity.

+++If anyone achieves that kind of unity it will be the Chaldeans.

The Bishop has incessantly failed in his attempts to divide the Assyrian-Chaldean opinion, because he undermines the most elementary variable in his expression of the new identity: a new political identity is founded by politicians, not religious figures.

+++There are no politicians in the Assyrian community...you have religious cult leaders hiding behind a National Question. There is no "national" requirement for membership...it is all religious. These people don't even know what these words MEAN.

Although the creation of a new political organization, namely the Chaldean National Congress, was recently announced by Sarhad Jammo’s friend, Mr. Joseph Kassab, the said entity has yet to receive any formidable support from the members of the Chaldean church.

Can or should there ever be a separate “Chaldean” political and/or ethnic identity? Yes, it can, but it certainly should not. A separate Chaldean identity will polarize our nation into two Syriac-speaking Christian communities in Iraq. If the “Arabization” and “Kurdofication” policies of the Moslem groups do not erode our unique and historic identity, the emmigration of the Christians – as a result – will surely complete the disappearance of every individual with true ties to that counrty’s Mesopotamian origins.

+++++There you have it again. No matter where else they start, they all come to the one premise they all accept...on faith. That country's origins are indeed Mesopotamian...in the ancient sense...and at that time there was neither Christ nor Muhammad.

+++These guys mix it all together. They start out talking about nations and politics, then drift into religion, then they tie religion to the very roots of our history forgetting there were no Christians or Muslims back then.

+++Thyere is absolutely no national loss if a particular RELIGION gets shown to the door in Mesopotamia. Assyria was not a Christian nation when it WAS a nation. Christianity and nationalism are meaningless in the same argument. If we want to lament the loss of a Christian sect in Iraq, that's one thing. Boo Hoo.

+++But the Assyrian PEOPLE aren't going anywhere, unless America kills them all.
And they wonder why there isn't "unity"? There isn't anything solid to unify around. It's like trying to build a radio by following direction on how to make chocolate fu dge...and then wondering why your reception is so poor.

Bishop Jammo’s speech was given in a time when the current Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Mar Raphael Bidawid, has fallen ill in a hospital in Lebanon. Sources to Zinda Magazine indicate that he is no longer able to perform his patriarchal duties and his condition is deteriorating daily. Mar Bidawid’s position on the issue was clearly stated in an Assyrian Star magazine article and a recent interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Company: “Before I became a priest I was an Assyrian… I am an Assyrian, today, tomorrow, forever, and I am proud of it.”

Mar Jammo’s appeal last Thursday was hesitated further when on Monday, Pope John Paul II’s ordained Mar Andraos Abouna of the Patriarchal Eparchy of Baghdad, Iraq, as the new bishop of the Chaldeans and appointed him the auxiliary of the Patriarchate. Mar Jammo’s speech was delivered three days later.

Many questions remain: Is the issue of a separate Chaldean identity being confiscated to the advantage of a dictatorial and egoistic Chaldean bishop as a career move? Or is the Bishop from San Diego genuinely concerned for the political wellbeing of the followers of his church, believing that the “Assyrian” groups do not properly represent the interest of the Chaldean Catholics? If so, then what percentage of the Chaldean Catholic Church is truly supportive of this claim and his separatist movement?

With the new developments in Iraq on everyone’s mind, the creation of a new Chaldean identity will not improve the lot of the Syriac-speaking people in that country. It will discredit one hundred years of Assyrian political struggle in Bet-Nahrain and provoke internal disputes and greater suffering.

+++There is NO political struggle...there is a struggle to build more churches...that's not the same thing.

Assyrians of any religious affiliation must come together and demand a singular representation in the post-Saddam government. Any discussions of a separate “Chaldean”, “Syriac”, “Nestorian”, “Aramean” identity must be neutralized at once. A single Assyrian political identity that can best represent the different
interests in the context of religious and linguistic differences must be the ultimate goal of our national unity. This is our best option to achieve greater recognition in Iraq and around the world.

++++It will never happen...it CAN never happen. You are all as free as the birds of the air here in the West...as free as you could ever hope to be in Iraq. And look at what you do with it. Do you have an ounce of unity here? Can three Assrins agree on anything without splitting off to form new "coalitions"? Have any of you shown any aptitude for pluralistic anything? Do you not ban and delete and call people traitors and whores and dogs here in America? Do you not build churches and only churches here in America? Do you have any art or cultural expressions here in this free country...but you must go to Iraq and lecture them and demand this and demand that and issue calls for unity in Iraq when you can't act in a civil manner in one American city?

+++This is all childish stuff tied to Sunday School...they are puffing it up into a National Diaper in hopes it will impress someone out there. Fortunately only the severely challenged will fall for any of this...in other words the religious ones... and so we come right back to the source of the problem...it's them old squabbling Mar Ones and Mar Twos all over again.

+++These people will all fade away in time...but before then another sort of Assyrian entirely will emerge if there are to be any Assyrians at all outside the Mideast...inside the Mideast, we are doing just fine...if the Christian Assyrian co-religionists will leave us alone.

On the other hand, if it is the will of the majority of the Chaldean Catholics to proclaim themselves as a people with a new identity, their aspiration must be demonstrated through political means. It would be foolish to think that an Assyrian political representative may one day meet face to face with a bishop or a priest to discuss the political future of our nation.

At the present stage of our political development in Iraq, a call for separate identity is a victory for the Kurdish and Arab factions. With tribal consciousness and religious susceptibility we may never attain a national awareness and political maturity. All passionate speeches must be ignored at this time, and if needed, every avenue of dialogue among the concerned groups must be explored through the assistance of our political parties.

+++Dream on. What is missing is missing because what we want depends upon that element BEING there. We have no center...gave it up long long ago and degenerated into factions of religious sects, sub-sects and religions all of them at war with each other to see who is most pleasing to a GOD! We haven't had any interest in anything BUT a God since then. We define ourselves in terms of that god...and he isn't even OUR god but a Jew, reformed or otherwise...is it any wonder we're the way we are?

+++Go to heaven by all means, you're just screwing the pooch here.

-- pancho
-- signature .

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