By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
A preposterous case of unprecedented falsification of Ancient, Islamic and Modern History published in the New York Times will procreate further Middle Eastern Dramas!
The present criticism concerns an article that was published before a month in the New York Times, and more particularly the feature â€œTurkey Allows a First New Year for a Tiny Minorityâ€ (on April 4, 2005) by Katherine Zoepf (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/04/inter ... urkey.html). The article in question intended to highlight some of the significant changes that have taken place in Turkey over the past two years within the context of the overall modernization and democratization of the country of Mustafa Kemal Pasa Ataturk, a name that is oddly absent in this feature.
ATATURK and Modern Turkey: common target of Ossama Bin Laden and Nicolas Sarkozy, a French Minister.
At this initial point, we have to specify that the founder of Modern Turkey has long been the principal target of fanatic and ignorant sheikhs of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other backward and undemocratic countries, the likes of Metwali Shaarawi and Gad el Haq Ali Gad el Haq, who posthumously found disciples and followers in the persons of Ossama Bin Laden and Nicolas Sarkozy, the vociferously anti-Turkish French minister. It is true that at the times of Mustafa Kemal Pasa Ataturk, the 20s and the 30s of last century, nationalism was running high everywhere, being sometimes diverted to extremes. It is also true that, in his effort to forge a modern state, Ataturk disregarded the real historical fact that Turkey was (and still is) a country where, except Turks, other peoples live as well, notably the Kurds, the Aramaeans, the Arabic speaking populations of Hatay, and last but not least the Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities.
Turkey: the Search for Diachronically Multi-Cultural Anatolia
The Search for the Soul of Anatolia (Anadolu in Turkish - from the Greek word Anatoli that stands for East/Orient and was earlier designating the Eastern territories of the Eastern Roman and the Ottoman empires) was a strong trend indeed in the 20s, the 30s and the 40s. The advancing decipherments of the Hittite, the Hatti, the Luwian, the Sumerian, and the Urartaic (Pre-Armenian, once also called Vanic from the Van Lake periphery) fascinated and motivated the freshly westernized Turks of those days. Hittit Bank and Sumer Bank are just two indications of a deep concern for the four millennia long History of Anatolia/Turkey.
It is essential to notice that, proceeding in this way, Turkey entered into the chorus of the modern, highly civilized and educated countries for which Historical Continuity and Self-Knowledge is the Key for Progress in every sense. Without a strong commitment to National Historical Research, and without conceptualizing Historical Knowledge into the spheres of Modern Education, Culture, Behavioural System, and Political Life, a country remains always a backward third-world country easy for colonial manipulation of any form. This became very well understood in Turkey 75 years ago, whereas it is not yet an issue in any Arabic speaking country or in other colonized parts of Asia and Africa.
The Search for the Infinite, Three-Continental, Turkic Cultural Milieu
Along with the Search for the Soul of Anatolia, came to surface the Search for the Soul of Turkish/Turkic Three-Continental Milieu, that vast circumference where various Turkic languages and cultures were developed from Anatolia to China, from Persia to India, and from African Egypt to Russia and Eastern parts of Europe. It is impossible to forget in this regard the Mongol rulers of China, the Mogul dynasty of India, the contribution of Turkic speaking military elites into the formation of Urdu (official language of modern Pakistan, and vehicle of communication for dozens of millions of Indian Muslims), the Turkic speaking royal and principal dynasties of Iran, Mesopotamia, Egypt (the Mamelouks â€“ for 200 years before the arrival of the Ottomans in 1517), the Tatars, the Huns, etc.
It is true that the Turkic axis prevailed to some extent over the Anatolian axis, but this was never determinant and definite in Turkey, where both searches were peacefully accommodated. Turkish politicians, ideologists, intellectuals, authors, and erudite scholars were always free to opt for the orientation they thought it better expresses the Unique Multi-Variety of the Country â€“ Melting Pot at the Crossroads between East and West.
The Greeks, the Armenians, and the Kurds
With the Armenians finding a national homeland within the then risen Soviet Union, with the Greeks gone (after the 1920-22 War and the Exchange of Populations in 1925 â€“ which was something that Eleutherios Venizelos asked and Ismet Inonu agreed on), and with the Kurds incorporated either through hundreds of thousands of mixed marriages (f.i. the late President Turgut Ozalâ€™s mother was of Kurdish origin) or through the authoritative term (Daglarin Turkleri: Turks of the mountains!), several Anatolian aspects of Culture and History were weakened and/or undermined.
Of course, this was prejudicial to the Anatolian multicultural treasure, but it was only understandable after the traumatic Armenian affair (when a people of the Ottoman empire, the Armenians, worked as Fifth Phalange for the sake of a traditional enemy, Russia), and the fratricide wars with Greece (that resulted in the breaking of hundreds of thousands of families that were half Greek and half Turkish â€“ since these terms at those days designated simply the Christian and the Muslim parts of the same, amalgamated, people).
As far as the Kurds are concerned, one has to bear in mind that Kurdology came to surface as another academic discipline within the sphere of the Orientalism and the Humanities, as late as the 1980s, and the treasures of Kurdish Culture, the Sheref Nameh, the Great Historical Epics of the Kurdish History, and the Mashaf-e Ras, the Holy Book of the Yezidi Kurds, were not known, let alone studied and scholarly / intellectually assessed, in the 1920s and 30s, when Vassilii Nikitin was a pioneer researcher in this field.
And what about the Aramaeans?
Having faced terrible hardships before and during World War One, having been decimated at Kutshanus, nearby Hakkari, in the mountains at the north of Mosul that are part of modern Turkey, and having been classified as just â€˜Christiansâ€™ (so closely but erroneously assimilated with the Greeks and the Armenians), they faced the difficult times of Rigid Secularism, like many traditionalist Muslims in 1930 Turkey or the majority of the Catholic Christians in 1793 France.
Some Aramaeans left for Iran, where historical Aramaean communities had settled even before the arrival of Islam, especially in Urumiyeh and in Ahvaz. Others left for Europe and America. It would not make sense to move to French mandate Syria and/or English mandate Iraq, where local Aramaeans were already oppressed by the persisting Islamic fanaticism and by the rising, totalitarian ideology of Pan-Arabism that was criminally and idiotically sponsored by France.
Pan-Arabism: a criminal, totalitarian ideology â€“ tool of Colonial Powers
This bogus-ideology is criminal in its conception because it does not emanate from a rather correct assessment and understanding of History (as in the case of Russian, Slavic, Iranian, Italian, German nationalisms, to mention but a few) but it is based on a total falsification of the History of the Middle East. It aims at deforming the Aramaic identity of all the Arabic speaking populations of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the Emirates for later political manipulations and machinations initiated by France and England.
Pan-Arabism is also an idiotic theoretical fabrication of the French. Mixed with Islamic fanaticism and extremism that prevailed under the form of Wahhabi barbarism (being of course totally un-Islamic and anti-Islamic, if Islam is to be considered according to the theoretical understanding of Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Mohyieldin Ibn al Arabi, Ibn Battuta, and other leading erudite scholars of the Islamic Lights), Pan-Arabism can generate hundreds of millions of Ossama Bin Ladens that will have no difficulty to blow up the Louvre next time; suffice it that an ingenious leader says a few â€˜properâ€™ sentences to manipulate them better than France and England did.
For the persistence of Colonial structures in the Arabic speaking part of the Middle East, it is essential that Pan-Arabism remains unchallenged. This is of course an oxymoron, in the light of the aforementioned, but the French apprentice magicians of the Sorbonne, the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, and the College de France proved to be a total failure, as Edouard Said demonstrated in his celebrated criticism, â€˜Orientalismâ€™, a must in the related bibliography.
The Colonial Scheme Against the Aramaeans
For the persistence of Colonial structures in the Arabic speaking part of the Middle East, it is essential that
b) lack of national historical and cultural identity,
c) absolute ignorance of and total disconnection from the great Aramaic, 3 millennia long, past,
d) national and political division,
e) lack of national unity, and
f) lack of democratic system
prevail among the Aramaeans, who are dispersed in the aforementioned 11 (eleven) Middle Eastern countries.
The Colonial Scheme Against the Universal Dimensions of the History of the Aramaeans
For the persistence of Colonial structures in the Arabic speaking part of the Middle East, it is also essential that modern Aramaeans, either they speak Aramaic or Arabic, are faced with a definite lack of multicultural approaches in conceptualizing their uniquely rich National History that encompasses
Â· the Ancient Aramaic kingdoms,
Â· the Assyrian â€“ Babylonian cultural heritage,
Â· the internationalization of Aramaic in the times of Arsacid Iran (250 BCE â€“ 224 CE), when Aramaic was adopted as scripture in Iran, India and Central Asia,
Â· the various Aramaic cultures of the Late Antiquity, as attested at Palmyra (Tadmor), Edessa of Osrhoene, Nisibis, Hatra, Rekem (Petra), Margdis, Doura Europos, Qumran, etc, be they Jewish, Mithraist, Gnosticist, Manicheist, Chaldaean, or Christian,
Â· the various para-Aramaic cultures of the Late Antiquity, from Africa (Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt) to Central Asia (Bactriana, Sogdiana, Transoxiana), India and China, where Aramaic communities diffused Knowledge, Culture, Science, Philosophy and Trade,
Â· Jesus Himself, as an Aramaic native speaker,
Â· the greatest moments of Christianity, Christian History, Theology, and Christology, from the Diatessaron Gospel of Tatianus, to Ephraim Syrus, Nestorius, Abdisho, and so many others who remain cautiously hidden far from the â€˜lightsâ€™ of the supposedly unbiased European universities, and out of the pages of World History Manuals and Textbooks meant for European Secondary Education,
Â· the greatest moments of Islam as Culture, Civilization, Lights, Science, Arts and Letters in Umayyad Damascus, Abbasid Baghdad, and elsewhere (without the Aramaeansâ€™ conversion into Islam, Prophet Muhammadâ€™s Preaching would have been limited in Arabia and Yemen), and â€“ last but not least â€“
Â· the most pioneering moments of Christian expansion in Yemen, India, Central Asia and China, before the diffusion of Islam.
Here we have to say that these heroic Arameans, who diffused Christianity to the four corners of the Earth, did not need to kill any local people while preaching Christianity, which is of course the opposite to what happened to millions of native Americans and Africans, who were â€˜lucky enoughâ€™ to fall into the â€˜benevolentâ€™ hands the â€˜civilisedâ€™ Christians, namely the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch, and the English â€¦..
Advanced Colonial French Scheme: Diffusion of a False Name (â€˜Assyrianâ€™) as Supposedly National Name of the Aramaeans
Working out its colonial schemes (with the well-known results), France had to divide the Aramaeans in a way to prevent them from National Awakening. The work implied the diffusion of a false national name among several communities of Aramaeans. The false name was that of a great ancient people that was already extinct before 2600 years, namely the Assyrians. It is true that the Ancient Aramaeans, although frequently decimated by the Emperors of Nineveh (Mosul), Assyria (Qalat Sherqat), Kalhou (Nimrud) and Dur Sarrukin (the four various Assyrian capitals), adopted many elements of Assyrian and Babylonian Cultural Heritage. The same concerns however the Ancient Hebrews and the Judeans, the Anatolians, the Phoenicians, the Persians, and the Greeks as well. It is true that, due to the Sumerians and the Akkadians / Assyrians â€“ Babylonians, Mesopotamia has been the Cradle of the World Civilization. But the Aramaeans, who already outnumbered the Assyrians at the times of Assurbanipal, did not â€˜becomeâ€™ Assyrians!
How would a modern Iranian function, believing he/she is not Iranian but â€¦ Sumerian? The dimensions of the misleading predicament are easily understood. And the practice has been attested in various other cases of colonial diffusion of false identity! Not necessarily only in the Third World, but also in Europe. France is already a bogus name, reflecting the imposition of a minority, the Franks, over the Gallic majorityâ€¦.
Americaâ€™s Dilemma: the Founding Fathersâ€™ Principles or Colonial French tactics?
America is a new power in this part of the world; the US is a new power altogether. Emanating from the War of Independence, bringing forth New Lights and Great Principles, modeled after a specific universal role envisioned by the Founding Fathers, America fought repeatedly against Colonialism. The fight took place at various levels, economic, political, and military. It is probably high time for America to understand that the Cultural War again Colonialism has not taken place so far, and that without it the US has no chance to change the Middle East and other unfortunate parts of the world as drastically as it wants, and as it is needed.
The victory cannot be over the Effect, namely the Islamic Extremism, but over the Cause, i.e. the Cultural Colonialism. The enemy cannot be the gun, but the military headquarters that sent to the warfront the soldier with that gun. The danger for the US does not come from Ossama Bin Laden, but from Colonial France (military headquarters) and from the mixture of Pan-Arabism with the Islamic Extremism (soldier). By searching for Ossama Bin Laden, the US searches nothing. This is a point that must be widely understood in America, and in Europe, where the US still has many friends, as it does in several parts of the world. America must reach these unknown friends, and to do so America must cast away ignorant people, who jeopardize American interests by openly adopting Colonial policies, as the aforementioned, that directly harm America too.
Lies contained in the New York Times bogus-report
In the feature published in the New York Times, the name of â€˜Assyriansâ€™ was used throughout the text, and various false stories were added. Under a correct title, Turkeyâ€™s process of modernization and democratization, a false context presented to American readership an unbelievable amount of lies.
Â· It is a lie that anybody in Midyat calls the Syriac - Aramaic population as â€˜Assyrianâ€™.
Â· It is a lie that these Aramaeans call themselves as â€˜Assyriansâ€™.
Â· It is a lie that they use the name â€˜Akituâ€™ for â€˜New Yearâ€™s Dayâ€™.
Â· It is a lie that the word Akitu is part of the Syriac - Aramaic vocabulary. Actually it was never attested in any Aramaic text of all times.
Â· It is a lie that the word Akitu was known to anybody allover the world before the decipherment of the Ancient Assyrian â€“ Babylonian Cuneiform by Henry Creswick Rawlinson in the 1860s.
Â· It is a lie that Akitu signified â€˜New Yearâ€™s Dayâ€™ for anyone except the Ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, who are totally unrelated to modern Aramaeans.
Â· It is a lie that the article in question is a â€˜reportâ€™. A report can never be the narration of inexistent things, the mention of unused names, and the quotation of unsaid sentences. The article is an idiotic fabrication of an ignorant American, who helps promote the Colonial French policies against the Aramaeans in the Middle East, and consequently damages any chance America has in the region.
It is truly shocking to see an American diffuse the Anti-Aramaic Colonial French policies concerning an area France failed to do so! The only cases of Aramaeans, who felt victims of the Colonial French propaganda and of the French policy of â€˜Assyrianizationâ€™ of the Aramaeans and of obliteration of their Universal History, are some Aramaeans of Iraq and Iran.
At the end of the present refutation of the bogus-report, I paste the integral text of the criticized article. Wherever one finds the name â€˜Assyrianâ€™, one must read â€˜Aramaeanâ€™.
INVITATION TO A PUBLIC DEBATE
As a Historian and Orientalist, who visited repeatedly the beautiful town of Midyat, and the entire area of Tur Abdin in Southeastern Turkey, and published numerous features, scholarly articles, entries to encyclopedias, and books about the area, the History of the Aramaeans, and the History of the Ancient Assyrians (of whom modern Aramaeans are totally irrelevant, despite the French forgery), I invite the author, Ms. Katherine Zoepf, and three representatives of the Aramaeans (not â€˜Assyriansâ€™) of Midyat (on whom she and I will agree), to a public debate to be held anywhere either physically or electronically.
If she does not answer and/or present her excuses, she automatically corroborates my points and arguments about her anti-American forgery.
At the end of argumentation, I am left with just one personal question:
- Why is the hatred of the Western Colonial Powers so deep against the Aramaeans, the people who still speak and write the language that was native to Jesus, and to all the Jews of His era?
FOLLOWS THE NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE PASTED INTEGRALLY:
MIDYAT, Turkey, April 1 - A windswept hilltop here in southeastern Anatolia has become the site for a reunion that once would have been unthinkable, as thousands of Assyrians from across the region have converged to openly celebrate their New Year in Turkey for the first time.
Like many other expressions of minority ethnic identity, the Assyrian New Year, or Akito, had been seen by Turkey as a threat. But this year, the government, with an eye toward helping its bid to join the European Union, has officially allowed the celebration by the Assyrians, members of a Christian ethnic group that traces its roots back to ancient Mesopotamia.
Yusuf Begtas, one of the celebration's organizers, said that because most of Turkey's tiny Assyrian population - about 6,000 people in all - lives in a heavily Kurdish region that has seen frequent clashes between the Turkish government and Kurdish militias, strong assertions of Assyrian ethnicity have long been politically impossible. But Turkey's political culture has been changing rapidly.
"Turkey is showing itself to the E.U.," Mr. Begtas said. "When we asked the authorities for permission to celebrate this year, we knew it wouldn't be possible for them to deny us now. Turkey has to show the E.U. that it is making democratic changes."
The festivities here on Friday were the culmination of a celebration that started on March 21, the first day of the Assyrian New Year. Behind Mr. Begtas, on a raised stage near the wall of the Mar Aphrem monastery, a balding baritone sang in Syriac, the Assyrians' language, a Semitic tongue similar to Aramaic.
He was followed by a group of girls wearing mauve satin folk costumes, dancing in lines with their arms linked. They were cheered on by an audience of about 5,000, including large groups of visiting ethnic Assyrians from Europe, Syria and Iraq.
Iraq, where Akito is celebrated openly, has the world's largest population of Assyrians, about a million. Most of Turkey's Assyrians were killed or driven away during the Armenian massacres early in the last century, and the bullet scars on some of Midyat's almost medieval-looking sandstone buildings still bear witness to those times.
In recent years, Assyrians have suffered quieter forms of persecution and discrimination. Since the 1980's, under those pressures, thousands of Assyrians have emigrated abroad. Kurds, with whom Assyrians have long had a tense relationship, are now a majority in Midyat, which until just a generation ago was 75 percent Assyrian.
Haluk Akinci, the regional governor of Nusaybin, a district next to Midyat, suggested that the Turkish government might see allowing the New Year celebration as a partial atonement for past persecutions.
"In the past, freedoms for minorities were not as great as they are now," he said, though he noted that in years past, private Assyrian New Year celebrations had generally been ignored by the authorities. "The Turkish government now repents that they let so many of these people leave the country."
After years of intense political and population pressure, the Turkish Assyrians say, public celebrations like Akito have huge emotional significance, and the participation of Assyrians from abroad has become particularly meaningful.
Terros Lazar Owrah, 60, an Assyrian shopkeeper from Dohor, in northern Iraq, said he had driven 14 hours for the opportunity to attend the celebration. "So many of us are leaving the region," he said. "It's very important for Assyrians from everywhere to get together in one place."
Thanks in large part to greater political freedoms granted recently in Iraq and Turkey, the Assyrians say, a sense of pan-regional Assyrian identity seems to be gathering strength. And though Turkey does not have any legal Assyrian political parties, there are those who would like to turn this rapidly developing sense of solidarity into a political voice, even into a discussion of nationhood.
Representatives from several overseas Assyrian political parties were present at the celebration.
Emanuel Khoshaba, an Iraqi Assyrian who represents the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Damascus, pointed out that Midyat lies between the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Mesopotamia that the Assyrians believe to be their rightful homeland.
"Protecting our national days is as important to us as preserving the soil of our nation," Mr. Khoshaba said. "Whether they live in Iraq or Syria or Turkey, our goal is to bring Assyrians together as a nation."
That is unlikely to happen. With countries in the region increasingly wary of the flowering of Kurdish nationalism in northern Iraq, smaller nationalist movements seem to have even less of a chance of finding political support in the region.
Still, the relaxation of Turkish antagonism toward the New Year's celebration was a significant enough start for many who attended.
"It's about coming together in spite of our rulers," said Fahmi Soumi, an Assyrian businessman who had traveled from Damascus to attend the Akito festivities. "When we unite like this, there is no Turkey, no Syria and no Iran. We are one people."