LECTURE ABOUT ISRAELS RECOGNITION OF THE ARAMEANS

Shadi Khalloul the chairman of Israeli Christian Aramaic Association (ICAA), innovator and lecturure about the historical decision about a recognition of the Aramean identity.

Shadi Khalloul

 On Sunday the 26th of February hundreds of interested listeners gathered at the Aramean-Syriac Association in Norsborg (a Stockholm suburb) of the Aramean elite, mainly academics, to hear about the decision of that the State of Israel that took place three weeks ago to recognize the Christians of Israel as Arameans.

The same kind of lecture was held on Monday at the Syriac Cultural Centre in Örebro in Sweden.

The chairman of the Aramean-Syriac Association of Norsborg Sami Rhawi welcomed all the attendants on behalf of the association and on behalf the Syriac Aramean Youth Assocation (SAUF) for showing great interest for the latest events of the Arameans in Israel.

This is something new that has never happened and it is a historical moment, said Rhawi.

When the lecturer and innovator Shadi Khalloul from Israel had the word he thanked Gabi Gallo who was the initiative taker of the Aramean Democratic Organization (ArDO) and Johny Messo of the World Council of Arameans (WCA) for they will of struggle to make this day a reality, and that he could come and tell how he struggled until we got a recognition. Shadi also encouraged the Aramean people to struggle to get recognition in other Middleastern countries as well.

Shadi Khalloul was at first a captain of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Israel, and afterwards he went to America to study at a university. After his studies when he return back to Israel in 2005, he founded the Israeli Christian Aramaic Associaton (ICAA), an association that struggles to preserve the Aramean identity for the Christians in Israel, in order to be differentiated from the minority pan-Arabists in Israel.

 The members of the organization began to study the Aramaic language which is of great importance for the linguistic identity, and when they had learned it, they in turn could teach it to others.  

Aftrwards the sought contact through the Internet with other Aramean organizations around the world and discovered the Aramean Democratic Organization of Sweden, the School of Edessa in Norsborg (Stockholm suburb) and professor Assad Sauma, and strengthen their bonds.

Shadi Khallouls organization with his brother Amir Khalloul started to teach the Aramaic language at schools for 150 pupils within 2 years. They even started to teach the pupils about the Aramean identity and culture. Now they even wanted to teach Aramaic at the public schools for the Aramean children.

They started seek connections and gave out information via the media about their work. They wrote a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Israel and told him about their work.

They were confronted with jealousy and resistance by the Arab world when they heard about the Aramean identity, history, language and culture and about their cooperation with the Israeli channels.

The big newspaper Haaretz found out about them and visited them on a regular basis especially on the holidays. And eventually they began lobbying in the Israeli Parliament the Knesset.

The Sweden based Aramean-Syriac satellite channels Suryoyo Sat and Suryoyo TV recorded Shadi’s lecture in Norsborg.     

The organization teaches Aramaic to pupils from the 1st up to the 8th grade in Israel today, with 17 hours a week. Even students from America contacted them in order to study Aramaic during the summers in Israel. It has been voluntarily to learn Aramaic, but there is a fear that when the Arabs hear about that when one feels comfortable with the Aramean culture, “when one leaves the primitive Arab culture”. The next step is to show that we are Arameans and struggled to get recognition in the Knesset, said Shadi. He wrote a letter together with the inhabitants of the Aramean Christian villages and sent it to the Israeli Parliament Knesset in 2008, but didn’t receive an answer. In 2012 there was a regime change in Israel and it was easier to cooperate with the new Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Knesset. We sent a copy of the same letter and got an answer this time. We brought up the identity issue with the Minister of Defense and with the Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Shadi.

When we read up the name of the Prime Minister loudly in Aramaic he began to shine and we understood that there would be a green light signal. Netanyahu said that there is no need to tell me who you are. I already know who you are because I know who you are and I know your people in history.

The former Minister of Interior Gideon Saar could for the first time acknowledge the decision at the Knesset regarding the Aramean identity registration at the Jewish New Year Rosh ha-Shanah (between 24 th to 26th September) 2014. Shadi’s 3 year old son Yakoub became the first to be registered as an Aramean in Israel. It would cost 850 US dollars to change to the Aramean identity. We started to search for every Aramean to apply to change their identity as Arameans. But it didn’t stop there, said Shadi.

Wednesday 18 January 2017 we got the historical decision that the State of Israel recognized the identity of the Aramean people, but this time it was absolutely free without any cost. And the registration applies for one’s entire family and is for three generations in advance from now on. Now we began once again search after – amongst the entire Aramean people in Israel request from them to change their former ”Arab identity” (which was their former one) into their true Aramean identity. The decision to change the identity into the Aramean one is only the Christian citizens of within the borders of the State of Israel and not those with another identity from other countries, such as those living in West Bank (that are under the authority of so-called “Palestinian Arabs” and Mahmoud Abbas A.K.A Abu Mazen).

Because the Aramean people are members of different ecclesiastical church denominations apart from the Aramean identity one is also to write down his/her church denominational affiliation as well, such as Syriac Maronite, Syriac Orthodox, Melkite Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Syriac Catholic .The amount of all these together are estimated to be 130 000. We enjoy the same rights as the Israeli Jews. There is no other country in the region were one enjoys as much freedom for the Arameans as in Israel. The amount of Christians in the country has never decreased, on the contrary it has only increased up to 130 000 after all despite the conflicts of the remaining Middle East, said Shadi.

 

The person’s identity and denomination is given in the registration. This certificate shows (circle 1)

 Aramean identity (Arami/Aramean) and in (circle 2) the person’s denomination (Notzri Maroni/Christan Maronite for example)

      Shadi encourages all Arameans to strive and struggle to show that there is a will to strive after a homeland of our own. We shouldn’t fight one another because of our political opinions when we strive for a homeland of our own, because it is our right. During the days of David Ben Gurion 1948-1954 when the State of Israel was founded one wanted also to create a State for the Christians in the Middle East. The country in mind was Lebanon to the north.

There is no need to strive for a country of our own within the borders of Israel, because Israel is a homeland to us. We don’t feel as strangers in Israel, said Shadi. The joy was great in the Aramean-Syriac Association building regarding this historical decision about the recognition of the Aramean identity amongst the listening audience who were present there.

Shadi Khalloul lives in Gush-Halav in Galilee, but is originally from the Galilean village of Kfar Bir’am. This village has become a tourist attraction for those who are interested in the Aramaic language and culture, which is visited by tourist from almost all over the world.

At the end Shadi finished with encouraging words to the Aramean people all over the world to strive and struggle for our rights without fear and to spread and use our Aramean name and the Aramean name only. We must struggle ourselves to create a homeland for the Aramean people, and not to wait and expect others to do it for us. Shadi showed great gratitude for his invitation and presence.

 Aramean Democratic Organization

Gabi Gallo

We thank Shadi Khalloul from the bottom of our hearts for his visit to Sweden and for his lecture

Shadi had elevated Arameanism into the sky during his visit to the Aramean Association with his presence. 

Shadi Khalloul with the Aramean MP Robert Halef of the Christian Democrats in Sweden 

 

At the old Swedish Parliament hall

At the Swedish Parliament

Shadi Khaloul and the Israel Ambassador of Sweden Isaac Bachman

Gabi Gallo & Shadi Khalloul at Suryoyo Sat

Gabi Gallo, Shadi Khalloul, Shlemun Ego and Joseph Saouk at Suryoyo Sat

Shadi Khalloul & Sami Urhoyo at the Aramean-Syriac Association in Norsborg

Shadi Khalloul & Sami Urhoyo at the Aramean-Syriac Association in Norsborg

Aram el-Khoury translating the lecture of Shadi Khalloul from English into Aramaic

the listening audience of Shadi Khalloul's lecture

the listening audience of Shadi Khalloul's lecture

the listening audience of Shadi Khalloul's lecture

the listening audience of Shadi Khalloul's lecture

 

the listening audience of Shadi Khalloul's lecture

A pro-Israeli Swede using his Shofar at the end of the lecture

Shadi recieved flowers and gifts after his lecture

Shadi recieved flowers and gifts after his lecture

Gabi Gallo & Noura Gallo are taking memorable photo with Shadi

Chairman of the World Council of Arameans (WCA) Johny Messo with Shadi Khalloul

Chairman of the World Council of Arameans (WCA) Johny Messo & Gabi Gallo with Shadi Khalloul

Chairman of the World Council of Arameans (WCA) Johny Messo and Joseph Saouk with Shadi Khalloul

Antoine el-Khoury the chairman of the Aramean satellite channel Suryoyo gives Shadi a Suryoyo logo pin as a gift of honor

Antoine el-Khoury the chairman of the Aramean satellite channel Suryoyo shaking hand with Shadi thanking for the lecture and future cooperation

Antoine el-Khoury , Shadi Khalloul and Gabi Gallo

families taking photo with Shadi

families taking photo with Shadi

Amir Hikmat, Samir Abdelahad, Shadi Khalloul and Suheyla Sawme

families taking photo with Shadi

one of the organizers of the lecutre's Aday Bethkinne his father and uncle with Shadi

photo of persons who are struggling for the Aramean national cause

Ghabi Shamoon, Shadi Khalloul, professor Assaad Sauma, Afrem Sauma and Ninos Sauma

Amir Hikmat, Roni Doumit, Shadi Khalloul, Nabil Asso, Michael Nassar

photo with friends with Shadi

Aday Bethkinne and Gabi Gallo who struggle a lot organize this lecture

Talia Besidski Jewish woman from Sweden with Shadi

Gabi Gallo, Talia Besidski Jewish woman from Sweden, with Shadi

Dani Hadodo a passionate Aramean nationalist with Shadi

Joseph Abdelahad, Shadi Khalloul and Nabil Asso passionate Aramean nationalists

Johny Messo & Mourad Pano with Shadi

Shadi's lecture in Örebro in Sweden

Shadi and Habib Dilmac the chairman of the Syriac Federation of Sweden

Shadi and Habib Dilmac and Gabi Gallo

Habib Dilmac, Shadi Khalloul and Amir Himat in Örebro

Shadi is encouraging  the Aramean in Israel to register as Arameans

David Dag is helping Shadi with his power point presentation during the lecture in Örebro

the lecture in Örebro is finished and Habib Dilmac the chairman of the Syriac Federatrion of Sweden is giving Shadi flowers and gifts

Bassim Barsoum and his wife Hanna Barsoum and Said Baran and his wife with Shadi holding the Aramean flag

father Yacoub Kasselia with Shadi

the translator from English to Aramaic with Shadi

malfono Andrawos with Shadi

The lecture went good the audience is hearing for first time about the Aramean identity in Israel and its success