Monday, January 28, 2013


Family of pastor held in Iran: Where is State Department?

Obama promises "Peace in our time" from by Joel Pollack

It was either an embarrassing slip, or a frightening revelation of the president's true worldview. Either way, the words "peace in our time," made infamous by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as he promised an illusory peace with Adolf Hitler in 1938, should never have been in President Barack Obama's second inaugural address. Yet they were, and went virtually unnoticed until caught by conservatives on social media.

The phrase appeared in a passage on foreign policy, in which the president pledged to defend the nation while resolving differences peacefully [emphasis added]:

And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice--not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

The sentence is rather tortured, but the idea seems to be that promoting socioeconomic equality around the world can help prevent conflict. It echoes the "root causes" theory of terrorism, which is that poverty produces extremism or at least provides it fertile ground There is some truth to that, although many terrorists come from middle class origins, and target America precisely because it symbolizes the values the president described.

Regardless, the reason Chamberlain's "peace in our time" is remembered is not that his theory of international relations was wrong but because he was hopelessly, dangerously naïve about Hitler's intentions. A year after Chamberlain waved the paper on which he had signed the Munich Agreement, ceding the sovereignty of Czechosolvakia in return for Hitler's promises of peace, Germany had invaded Poland and Britain was at war.

President Obama shows similar naïveté, or hubris, about the war against international terrorism. "A decade of war is now ending," he declared, even as a new front has opened in the war against Al Qaeda in Africa. He--ironically--failed to mention Afghanistan, where soldiers still fight and die in a cause President Obama has all but abandoned, and where America has already once suffered the brutal consequences of neglect.

Like Chamberlain, the president seems to believe in negotiation as an end in itself. He spent his first term seeking an elusive nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime, even permitting it to recover from a near-revolution in 2009, convinced that its assurances of peaceful intentions would be enough. He backed away from promises of missile defense to Poland and the Czech Republic--receiving nothing from Russia in return.

When Republicans called President Obama's approach "appeasement," he responded angrily: "Ask Osama bin Laden...whether I engage in appeasement." Yet Obama has been trying to negotiate with the Taliban who once sheltered bin Laden and Al Qaeda, in an attempt to put a brave face on withdrawal. And Al Qaeda's attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East on Sep. 11, 2012 suggest that it has not been deterred.

The president intends to continue pulling back. His nominees to foreign policy posts--John Kerry (State), Chuck Hagel (Defense), and John Brennan (CIA)--each share his vision of a humbler America. He pretends the alternative to his approach is "perpetual war." But Ronald Reagan showed the merit of "peace through strength," challenging Soviet aggression, standing up to terror and letting dissidents know they were not alone.

President Obama has shown a very selective interest in history, narrowly focused on the sites of civil rights struggles--Osawatomie, for example, and the three sites mentioned in his address. Beyond that familiar subject, he shows little sensitivity or expertise: he once flubbed the date of the Constitutional Convention, for example, and pulled out of the missile defense deal on the 60th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland.

History remembers Chamberlain's "peace in our time" as the definitive statement of appeasement, which is precisely why its use in the president's inaugural address is so odd, and ominous. It is possible that it was simply the error of a young speechwriter. But the White House boasted that the president had written early drafts of his address. And his policies suggest that "peace in our time" is indeed, despite history, close to his heart.




"What does it matter if I got people killed in Libya?!!!!"


Through her gross negligence, Hillary Clinton got four Americans killed in Benghazi Libya-including an ambassador. She has stated that she claims responsibility. Then she lies to the American people and frames and imprisons a Coptic Christian, an American citizen, who is still in jail-and says that he provoked the attack. His crime? Exercising his freedom of speech. When confronted with the fact that there was no "spontaneous demonstration" she starts screaming like some crazy person "What does it matter!" and then incoherently contradicts herself and says she is trying to get the facts!-That is part of why it matters. The other reason is that she is responsible for the deaths of Americans-then she lied to the American people and engaged in a cover-up. The sad things are-the liberal media paints her out to be a hero-and even sadder is that many Americans are so stupid that they fall for it.

It is amazing that Hillary admitted to not reading (or lied about not reading) the diplomatic cables from Libya. Only Rand Paul and John McCain called her out. Rand Paul rightly said that she should have been immediately fired.

IRAN-AMERICAN Pastor sentenced to jail for 8 years for being a Christian

Family of Christian pastor held in Iran asks: Where is State Department?

[Where is the state department when Assyrians, Copts and in this case an American citizen are being persecuted by radical Islam? Remember, it is the Obama White House and he is obviously a friend of radical Islam and an enemy of God's people.]

Supporters of the American pastor held in Iran and facing a possible death sentence for his faith say the State Department is not doing enough to win his release.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian minister and American citizen who lives in Boise Idaho with his wife and two young children, has been held in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison since September for allegedly evangelizing in his native country. Despite being held for months before formal charges were revealed at his trial this week, the State Department has not issued a statement or made any public demand that Iran release him, say his supporters.

"Every day counts. He is being tortured. They (State Department) can do so much more," said Abedini's wife, Naghmeh Abedini. "I've been so heartbroken. It's as though we are letting the Iranian government lead with their interpretation of what he's done wrong instead of protecting our American ideals."

"If our own State Department fails to advocate for a U.S. citizen who faces injustice in a country that is widely regarded as one of the most egregious human rights abusers, then I believe they have failed in one of their most fundamental responsibilities to American citizens," said Franks, who chairs the House Bipartisan International Religious Freedom Caucus. "Every U.S. citizen should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to their defense in a time of need, especially when they are unjustly tried in a foreign country. At the very least, Secretary Clinton should publicly call for the unequivocal release of Saeed Abedini."

How to Save a Dying Language

GMT 1-25-2013 0:27:20
Assyrian International News Agency



It was a sunny morning in May, and I was in a car with a linguist and a tax preparer trolling the suburbs of Chicago for native speakers of Aramaic, the 3,000-year-old language of Jesus.

The linguist, Geoffrey Khan of the University of Cambridge, was nominally in town to give a speech at Northwestern University, in Evanston. But he had another agenda: Chicago's northern suburbs are home to tens of thousands of Assyrians, Aramaic-speaking Christians driven from their Middle Eastern homelands by persecution and war. The Windy City is a heady place for one of the world's foremost scholars of modern Aramaic, a man bent on documenting all of its dialects before the language--once the tongue of empires--follows its last speakers to the grave.

The tax preparer, Elias Bet-shmuel, a thickset man with a shiny pate, was a local Assyrian who had offered to be our sherpa. When he burst into the lobby of Khan's hotel that morning, he announced the stops on our two-day trek in the confidential tone of a smuggler inventorying the contents of a shipment.

"I got Shaqlanaye, I have Bebednaye." He was listing immigrant families by the names of the northern Iraqi villages whose dialects they spoke. Several of the families, it turned out, were Bet-shmuel's clients.

As Bet-shmuel threaded his Infiniti sedan toward the nearby town of Niles, Illinois, Khan, a rangy 55-year-old, said he was on safari for speakers of "pure" dialects: Aramaic as preserved in villages, before speakers left for big, polyglot cities or, worse, new countries. This usually meant elderly folk who had lived the better part of their lives in mountain enclaves in Iraq, Syria, Iran or Turkey. "The less education the better," Khan said. "When people come together in towns, even in Chicago, the dialects get mixed. When people get married, the husband's and wife's dialects converge."

We turned onto a grid of neighborhood streets, and Bet-shmuel announced the day's first stop: a 70-year-old widow from Bebede who had come to Chicago just a decade earlier. "She is a housewife with an elementary education. No English."

Khan beamed. "I fall in love with these old ladies," he said.

Aramaic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic, was the common tongue of the entire Middle East when the Middle East was the crossroads of the world. People used it for commerce and government across territory stretching from Egypt and the Holy Land to India and China. Parts of the Bible and the Jewish Talmud were written in it; the original "writing on the wall," presaging the fall of the Babylonians, was composed in it. As Jesus died on the cross, he cried in Aramaic, "Elahi, Elahi, lema shabaqtani?" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?")

But Aramaic is down now to its last generation or two of speakers, most of them scattered over the past century from homelands where their language once flourished. In their new lands, few children and even fewer grandchildren learn it. (My father, a Jew born in Kurdish Iraq, is a native speaker and scholar of Aramaic; I grew up in Los Angeles and know just a few words.) This generational rupture marks a language's last days. For field linguists like Khan, recording native speakers--"informants," in the lingo--is both an act of cultural preservation and an investigation into how ancient languages shift and splinter over time.

In a highly connected global age, languages are in die-off. Fifty to 90 percent of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken today are expected to go silent by century's end. We live under an oligarchy of English and Mandarin and Spanish, in which 94 percent of the world's population speaks 6 percent of its languages. Yet among threatened languages, Aramaic stands out. Arguably no other still-spoken language has fallen farther.

Its first speakers, the Arameans, were desert nomads. (The Bible describes the mythic forebear of the Hebrews as "a wandering Aramean.") Spreading out from ancient Syria, they so blanketed Mesopotamia that when the Assyrians conquered the Middle East in the eighth century B.C., they adopted Aramaic--not their own tongue, Akkadian--as a language of empire. So did the Babylonians when they vanquished the Assyrians, and the Persians when they toppled the Babylonians. The language crossed the lips of Christians, Jews, Mandeans, Manicheans, Muslims, Samaritans, Zoroastrians and pagans.

The writing on the wall (the proverbial sort) came for Aramaic in the seventh century A.D., when Muslim armies from Arabia conquered the Middle East, and Arabic routed Aramaic as the region's lingua franca. Aramaic survived only in the Kurdish mountains of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, places so remote they never got the memo. Jews and Christians there (though not Muslims, who spoke Kurdish) kept up Aramaic as an everyday tongue for another 1,300 years.

The number of Aramaic speakers alive today is difficult to calculate. Though some estimates set the figure as high as a half-million, that number is misleading. Because of its ancient lineage, lack of standardization and the isolation of speakers from one another, the modern tongue, known as Neo-Aramaic, has more than 100 dialects, most with no written analogue. Many dialects are already extinct, and others are down to their last one or two speakers.

As an everyday language, linguists told me, Aramaic is safe now in only one place: the Christian village of Maaloula, in the hills outside Damascus, where, with Syrian state support, elders still teach it to children.

Like many Neo-Aramaic experts, Khan, whose accent bears traces of his working-class childhood in northeast England, stumbled on the field almost by accident. In his early years at Cambridge, he worked on a trove of ancient Jewish manuscripts--in Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic--known as the Cairo Geniza. But the long hours squinting at microfilm were a downer. Eager for change after a dispiriting day in a Jerusalem microfiche lab in the early 1990s, he asked a local organization of Kurdish Jews for referrals to actual native speakers of Aramaic.

No sooner had Khan sat down with a Jew from Erbil, a northern Iraqi city whose Aramaic dialect was undescribed, than he felt he had found his calling. "It completely blew my mind," he told me. "To discover a living language through the lips of a living person, it was just incredibly exhilarating."

The traditional aim of fieldwork is to produce for undocumented languages what linguists sometimes call "the holy trinity": a grammar, which is a road map to sounds, syntax and structure; texts, which are chunks of unedited speech that reveal a language's texture; and a dictionary. Over the past two decades, Khan has published highly regarded grammars on the previously undocumented dialects of Barwar, Qaraqosh, Erbil, Sulemaniyya and Halabja, all areas in Iraq, and Urmi and Sanandaj, in Iran. He is also at work on a web-based database of text and audio recordings that allows word-by-word comparisons across dozens of Aramaic dialects.

Aramaic speakers tend to greet microphone-toting linguists with traditional Middle Eastern hospitality. The widow we visited in Niles, Agnes Nissan Esho, would not let us leave before serving an elaborate lunch of kubba hamuth (sour dumplings), masta (yogurt), chicken with rice, and kadeh (spiced-walnut pastry).

"I'm getting very excited about some vowels here," Khan said as Esho carried in the steaming plates of food.

"And I'm getting excited about the kadeh," Bet-shmuel deadpanned.

The half-dozen Neo-Aramaic linguists I spoke with said informants often served feasts, confided family gossip and plied them with take-home boxes of fruit. But some are puzzled by the outside interest in their language, and others suspicious that their interlocutors are spies.

And bum steers abound. On our drive to one informant's house, Khan told a story about his multiyear search for a Chicago man from Iraq's Barwar region who had been described to him as a font of Assyrian folklore. "When we finally met, I said, 'I heard you know lots of stories.'"

The man's response: "I've forgotten them all."

When we arrived at homes around Chicago, Khan, in dress shirt and blazer, explained his research, then drew from his backpack a digital voice recorder, a microphone and a sprawling loose-leaf questionnaire. Each session lasted two or three hours, as Khan worked, like an archaeologist with a soil sifter, to tease out nuances, among dialects, in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

How would you say, "There they are"? he asked. How about, "Here I am"? How about, "He wants to come"? And on it went: "You want to come. I want to come. Come!"

To make sure he heard words correctly, Khan repeated them slowly. He held his mouth open an extra second to verify a vowel or ran a finger over his Adam's apple to confirm a guttural.

At a public housing tower, we spent more than an hour with a 97-year-old Assyrian from Turkey and his 90-year-old wife. When we stopped for coffee afterward, I asked Khan whether he'd found the meeting productive. "Some pronunciations of one of the consonants in the word for 'hen' are not according to what I predicted," he said.

Advances in field linguistics, I saw, come in dribs and drabs, not eurekas.

The work has its exhilarating days, though, and few moved Khan more than his 2008 trip to the former Soviet republic of Georgia. He was in the capital of Tbilisi in search of Aramaic speakers from Salamas, a city in northwestern Iran. One wave of Assyrians fled Salamas after a Kurdish chieftain murdered a Church of the East patriarch there in 1918; another, after an earthquake a dozen years later.

In Tbilisi, people told Khan that all but three of the dialect's "pure" speakers had died. At the first house, the man's daughter apologized: Her father had recently suffered a stroke and was mute. At the second, an older woman lived with a quartet of energetic Rottweilers. "I took out my microphone and they just started howling and barking," Khan recalled. "It was impossible."

Finally, a local Assyrian escorted Khan one night into an imposing Soviet-era apartment block. At the top of a dark flight of stairs was a one-room apartment. A frail woman in her mid-90s answered the door.

Khan looked at her brittle physique and wondered how much she could handle. He told himself he would stay for just a few minutes. But when he got up to leave, the woman stretched a bony hand across the table and clasped his wrist.

"Biqir, Biqir," she pleaded, in a small voice. ("Ask, ask.")

"She literally grabbed onto me," he said. "It was as if this was her last breath and she wanted to tell me everything."

For two hours she hung on his wrist as his recorder filled with the sounds of a language in twilight.

By Ariel Sabar


The above article was from AINA-Assyrian International News Association-an excellent and helpful website. Now, it says this is in Smithsonian Magazine-that is great. This is the kind of article that those jerks at National Geographic could have and should have made years ago. I have seen literally dozens of pro-Islamic articles in National Geographic. The only article I saw on "Middle Eastern Christians" in NG was a few years ago "The Christian Exodus from the Holy Land"-the article SUCKED! It said that that the Muslims showed great tolerance toward Christians (a Damned LIE) and that Christians converted to Islam because they found it to be a better religion! I find that very offensive.

But look at the liberal establishment. Obama incited violence against a Coptic Christian and anti-Christians riots around the world over the "Innocence of Islam" movie, which he "strongly condemned" but his State Department won't do any thing on behalf of an American pastor unjustly imprisoned in Iran!

It is sad that America re-elected this villain and that we have to put up with his destructive nonsense for the next two years at least-that is if the Republicans make gains in the house and take the Senate. If not, America is doomed.

So, as Hillary Clinton said, "What does it matter?" It matters because America's policy has tremendous influence around the world. The Obama White House's Pro-Radical Islam policy is increasing pressure upon Middle Eastern Christians and is emboldening the Islamists. They have made tremendous gains under Obama and will continue to do so for the next two to four years. Not only are the Middle Eastern Christians suffering-America is being harmed and threatened by this policy. We must stand up for justice while we can and as long as we can.

Once again, I am going to India and I ask for your prayers while I am there.

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