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November 27, 2014 4:24 pm

Israel First Country to Recognize Aramean Nationality

avatar by Tzvi Zucker / Tazpit News Agency

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The Knesset building in Jerusalem. PHOTO: James Emery.

Lost in the uproar over the proposed Israeli Nationality Bill has been the historic recognition of Arameans as a separate nationality in Israel. Israel is the first country in the world to recognize the Arameans. And this historic recognition has empowered and emboldened Arameans to seek better treatment in other countries they live in.

On Wednesday, November 26, the World Council of Arameans (WCA) will be addressing the Seventh Session of the Forum on Minority Issues at the United Nations in Geneva. Shadi Halul, an Aramean from Gush Halav in the Galilee, will be traveling to Geneva in order to address the assembly. His two year old child was the first person to be registered under the new identity in Israel, one month ago. Halul was invited by the WCA.

Part of his statement will read as follows: “We, Aramean Christian Israelis, want all the nations of the world to see the historic democratic move of Israel in recognizing the nationality of ‘Aramean’ within the Christian citizens of the Jewish and democratic Israel. We look specifically to Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to recognize the Aramean people in their countries, to protect the minority in their historic homelands, and their basic democratic rights, and preserve their culture, language, and history.”

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Johnny Messo, the President of the World Council of Arameans, emphasized “We greatly commend Israel for being the first state in the world to recognize our people in keeping with international law. This fantastic news has had a major impact on the global Aramean population. It encourages us to continue our legal struggle for recognition by our home countries of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.”

“The only safe haven for our people in the entire region is Israel,” Jahn Zaknoun, spokesperson of the Christian Aramaic Society in Israel told Tazpit News Agency. “It is the only place we are demographically growing in the entire region. In 1948 there were between 50,000 and 70,000 Arameans in the country, and today there are 130,000 Arameans.”

“We want our people to be a useful and productive part of the country, to serve in the army, as anyone who loves this country as it is would do,” Zaknoun added. “Israel is the only country in the region where everyone who comes here is integrated into society. Anyone who cherishes freedom, of life and of speech, loves Israel.”

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  • snag

    Just hours later their Israeli World Council of Arameans delegate was prizing obediently Israel in a speech script provided by his masters overflowing with compliments prizing Israeli democracy at UN Forum in Geneva and demonizing other nations considered by Israel as enemies. This pinhead was prizing Israel that this decision has enabled him and his children to correct their identity cards and to register themselves as “Aramean Christians” and neglecting to question the need to mention his faith on this ‘democratic’ State ID card to start with.

    This move is a smoke screen to re-direct civilized world attention from occupation related Palestinian issues ,…

    • Dorith

      Luckily you are so intelligent that you see through the smoke.

    • worldcitizen

      Hey Snag, can a Jew live, work, and pray in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon? Probably not. What Muslim country is safe? What Muslim country is free? What Muslim country is democratic? What Muslim country provides equal opportunity for people, including women? The smoke screen are the Muslim countries who have yet to become civilized.

    • John Matthews

      Minority religions in Israel have always been respected, as have the 1.7 million mostly Muslim Arabs living in Israel, who have key roles also in the Knesset and judiciary. How many Jewish judges or parliamentary members will you find in any Arab-Muslim nation? The answer to that question, along with how many Arab-Muslim nations accept entry to Israeli passport holders will correctly define for you which nations are more guilty of apartheid policies.

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