ASIA/ISRAEL - Initiatives to revitalize the Aramaic language and identity continue

Tuesday, 3 December 2019 middle east   oriental churches   area crisis   hebraism

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - Initiatives and mobilizations supported by Israeli cultural entities that aim at revitalizing the Aramaic language and identity continue. On Sunday 1 December, representatives and scholars from Assyrian and Syriac Christian communities around the world gathered in Jerusalem to take part in a conference organized by the Committee for the revival of the Aramaic language and by the Tikkun Movement, committed to promoting Israeli culture, which has also embraced the cause of the relaunch of Aramaic, an ancient language spoken throughout the Middle East. Juliana Taimoorazy from Chicago and Hermis Shaheen from Sydney also took their testimony to the conference, and led a discussion on the meaning of the Aramaic language for the Jewish and Assyrian people.
The ancient Aramaic language also spoken by Jesus is now commonly used only in some villages of Syria, such as Maalula, and by those who study Talmud, which is written in pseudo-Aramaic.
The conference was also attended by Amir Halul, representative of what is defined in the Israeli media as "a Christian Aramaic community in Israel", who read several verses of Psalms in their Aramaic translation.
In September 2014, the Israeli Ministry of Interior decided to recognize the Aramaean identity as a distinct identity, to be added to the list of national identities present in the Country, and to allow the addition of the "Aramaean" qualification to that of "Christian", to replace the term "Arab" in identity cards of Palestinian Christians who are citizens of Israel. This ministerial provision was indicated by the Council of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land as "an attempt to separate Palestinian Christians from other Palestinians". In a document issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Council of Catholic Bishops (see Fides, 22/9/2014) the reasons for the measures taken in this direction by the government of Israel were rejected as pretentious and ideological. At the time, the decision was made explicitly to allow 200 Christian families to identify themselves as belonging to the ancient nationality, and thus register as "aramei" rather than as Arabs in identity documents. According to statistics compiled by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and quoted by Yehonatan Valtser on, there are about 115 thousand Christian Arabs residing in Israel who have the right to substitute their Arab national qualification with Aramaic in their identity documents. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/12/2019)