By: Peter BetBasoo / ChristiansOfIraq.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: There is great need for setting the record straight on the history of the Middle East. The revisionism of the last few years will lead Western Civilization into bondage. The following letter by Assyrian scholar Peter BetBasoo is a very important step in the right direction. It was sent by Assyrian scholar Peter BetBasoo to Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard Corporation, in response to a speech she presented in Minneapolis on September 26, 2001. It is reprinted by permission. Please read and pass it on to others. It has been condensed.
This article is presented because of the constant disinformation presented on the mainstream news and in movies such as WATER DIVINER. It will alert you to the dangers of unwittingly being drawn into the Arabist/Islamist ideology, which seeks to assimilate all cultures and religions into the Arab/Islamic fold through intimidation.
The term “civilized” is defined, “bring (a place or people) to a stage of social, cultural, and moral development considered to be more advanced.” The greatest advances in civilization are not in science and art, they’re in how people in a society treat other people. Higher civilizations send teachers, doctors and missionaries to help other civilizations advance. Lower civilizations send pirates and terrorists.
Arabs and Muslims appeared on the world scene in 630 A.D., when the armies of Muhammad began their conquest of the Middle East. We should be very clear that this was a military conquest, not a missionary enterprise, and through the use of force, authorized by a declaration of a Jihad against infidels, Arabs/Muslims were able to forcibly convert and assimilate non-Arabs and non-Muslims into their fold. Very few indigenous communities of the Middle East survived this – primarily Assyrians, Jews, Armenians and Coptics (of Egypt).
Having conquered the Middle East, Arabs placed these communities under a Dhimmi (see the book DHIMMI, by Bat Ye’Or) system of governance, where the communities were allowed to rule themselves as religious minorities (Christians, Jews and Zoroastrian). These communities had to pay a tax (called a Jizzya in Arabic) that was, in effect, a penalty for being non-Muslim, and that was typically 80% in times of tolerance and up to 150% in times of oppression. This tax forced many of these communities to convert to Islam, as it was designed to do.
Carly Fiorina stated, “its architects designed buildings that defied gravity.”
The fundamental architectural breakthrough of using a parabolic shape instead of a spherical shape for these structures was made by the Assyrians more than 1300 years earlier, as evidenced by their archaeological record.
Carly Fiorina stated,”its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption.”
The fundamental basis of modern mathematics had been laid down not hundreds but thousands of years before by Assyrians and Babylonians, who already knew of the concept of zero, of the Pythagorean Theorem, and of many, many other developments expropriated by Arabs/Muslims (see HISTORY OF BABYLONIAN MATHEMATICS by Otto E. Neugebauer).
Carly Fiorina stated, “its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease.”
The overwhelming majority of these doctors (99%) were Assyrians. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries Assyrians began a systematic translation of the Greek body of knowledge into Assyrian. At first, they concentrated on the religious works but then quickly moved to science, philosophy and medicine. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, and many others were translated into Assyrian, and from Assyrian into Arabic. It is these Arabic translations which the Moors brought with them into Spain, and which the Spaniards translated into Latin and spread throughout Europe, thus igniting the European Renaissance.
By the sixth century A.D., Assyrians had begun exporting back to Byzantia their own works on science, philosophy and medicine. In the field of medicine, the Bakhteesho Assyrian family produced nine generations of physicians, and founded the great medical school at Gundeshapur (Iran). Also in the area of medicine, (the Assyrian) Hunayn ibn-Ishaq’s textbook on ophthalmology, written in 950 A.D., remained the authoritative source on the subject until 1800 A.D.
In the area of philosophy, the Assyrian philosopher Job of Edessa developed a physical theory of the universe, in the Assyrian language, that rivaled Aristotle’s theory, and that sought to replace matter with forces (a theory that anticipated some ideas in quantum mechanics, such as the spontaneous creation and destruction of matter that occurs in the quantum vacuum).
One of the greatest Assyrian achievements of the fourth century was the founding of the first university in the world, the School of Nisibis, which had three departments, theology, philosophy and medicine, and which became a magnet and center of intellectual development in the Middle East. The statutes of the School of Nisibis, which have been preserved, later became the model upon which the first Italian university was based (see THE STATUTES OF THE SCHOOL OF NISIBIS by Arthur Voobus).
When Arabs and Islam swept through the Middle East in 630 A.D., they encountered 600 years of Assyrian Christian civilization, with a rich heritage, a highly developed culture, and advanced learning institutions. It is this civilization that became the foundation of the Arab civilization.
Carly Fiorina stated, “Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.”
This is a bit melodramatic. In fact, the astronomers you refer to were not Arabs but Chaldeans and Babylonians (of present day south-Iraq), who for millennia were known as astronomers and astrologers, and who were forcibly Arabized and Islamized – so rapidly that by 750 A.D. they had disappeared completely.
Carly Fiorina stated, “its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.”
There is very little literature in the Arabic language that comes from this period you are referring to (the Koran is the only significant piece of literature), whereas the literary output of the Assyrians and Jews was vast. The third largest corpus of Christian writing, after Latin and Greek, is by the Assyrians in the Assyrian language (also called Syriac).
Carly Fiorina stated, “when other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.”
This is a very important issue you raise, and it goes to the heart of the matter of what Arab/Islamic civilization represents. I reviewed a book titled HOW GREEK SCIENCE PASSED TO THE ARABS, in which author De Lacy O’Leary lists the significant translators and interpreters of Greek science. Of the 22 scholars listed, 20 were Assyrians, one was Persian and one an Arab. I state at the end of my review: “The salient conclusion which can be drawn from O’Leary’s book is that Assyrians played a significant role in the shaping of the Islamic world via the Greek corpus of knowledge. If this is so, one must then ask the question, what happened to the Christian communities which made them lose this great intellectual enterprise they had established? One can ask this same question of the Arabs. Sadly, O’Leary’s book does not answer this question, and we must look elsewhere for the answer.”
I did not answer this question I posed in the review because it was not the place to answer it, but the answer is very clear, the Christian Assyrian community was drained of its population through forced conversion to Islam (by the Jizzya), and once the community had dwindled below a critical threshold, it ceased producing the scholars that were the intellectual driving force of the Islamic civilization, and that is when the so called “Golden Age of Islam” came to an end (about 850 A.D.). Islam the religion itself was significantly molded by Assyrians and Jews (see NESTORIAN INFLUENCE ON ISLAM and HAGARISM: THE MAKING OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD).
Arab/Islamic civilization is not a progressive force, it is a regressive force; it does not give impetus, it retards. The great civilization you describe was not an Arab/Muslim accomplishment, it was an Assyrian accomplishment that Arabs expropriated and subsequently lost when they drained, through the forced conversion of Assyrians to Islam, the source of the intellectual vitality that propelled it. What other Arab/Muslim civilization has risen since? What other Arab/Muslim successes can we cite?
Carly Fiorina stated, “and perhaps we can learn a lesson from his [Suleiman] example: It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions.”
In fact, the Ottomans were extremely oppressive to non-Muslims. For example, young Christian boys were forcefully taken from their families, usually at the age of 8-10, and inducted into the Janissaries, (yeniceri in Turkish) where they were Islamized and made to fight for the Ottoman state. What literary, artistic or scientific achievements of the Ottomans can we point to? We can, on the other hand, point to the genocide of 750,000 Assyrians, 1.5 million Armenians and 400,000 Greeks in World War One by the Kemalist “Young Turk” government. This is the true face of Islam.
Arabs/Muslims are engaged in an explicit campaign of destruction and expropriation of cultures and communities, identities and ideas. Wherever Arab/Muslim civilization encounters a non-Arab/Muslim one, it attempts to destroy it (as the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan were destroyed, as Persepolis was destroyed by the Ayotollah Khomeini).
This is a pattern that has been recurring since the advent of Islam, 1400 years ago, and is amply substantiated by the historical record. If the “foreign” culture cannot be destroyed, then it is expropriated, and revisionist historians claim that it is and was Arab, as is the case of most of the Arab “accomplishments” you cited in your speech. For example, Arab history texts in the Middle East teach that Assyrians were Arabs, a fact that no reputable scholar would assert, and that no living Assyrian would accept. Assyrians first settled Nineveh, one of the major Assyrian cities, in 5000 B.C., which is 5630 years before Arabs came into that area. Even the word ‘Arab’ is an Assyrian word, meaning “Westerner” (the first written reference to Arabs was by the Assyrian King Sennacherib, 800 B.C., in which he tells of conquering the “ma’rabayeh” – Westerners. See THE MIGHT THAT WAS ASSYRIA by H. W. F. Saggs).
Even in America this Arabization policy continues. On October 27th a coalition of seven Assyrian and Maronite
organizations sent an official letter to the Arab American Institute asking it to stop identifying Assyrians and Maronites as Arabs, which it had been deliberately doing.
There are minorities and nations struggling for survival in the Arab/Muslim ocean of the Middle East and Africa (Assyrians, Armenians, Coptics, Jews, southern Sudanese, Ethiopians, Nigerians…), and we must be very sensitive not to unwittingly and inadvertently support Islamic fascism and Arab Imperialism, with their attempts to wipe out all other cultures, religions and civilizations. It is incumbent upon each one of us to do our homework and research when making statements and speeches about these sensitive matters.
Thank you for your consideration.
Peter BetBasoo is an Assyrian from Iraq and the co-founder and director of the Assyrian International News Agency (www.aina.org).
Behind the Goodness in Disney’s New CINDERELLA
By Evy Baehr, Executive Managing Editor
Walt Disney Studios is finally doing the live action version of CINDERELLA. This version really emphasizes Cinderella being good and kind to others. In fact, Director Kenneth Branagh even said at a recent press day Movieguide® attended, that they wanted her to be like a “Saint Joan character, a girl with faith.”
The only question, Branagh added, was “how can we present that and not make her a saint in fact, not make her too removed. How can she be somebody people could identify with and say, ‘Maybe I could take that path’?”
When Lily James was taking on the roll of Cinderella, Branagh told her he wanted the character to have a “generosity of spirit.” James related to this, he said, because her own father had told her when she was a young child to have a generous sprit.
In this version of Cinderella, there was a decision to include Cinderella’s parents, Producer Allison Shearmur said, adding, “She is the way she is because she was loved as a child.” Branagh also said establishing a “family life [for Cinderella before her stepmother arrives] was important.”
“I think it’s kind of refreshing also,” Shearmur continued, “that this movie doesn’t force itself to be modern by complicating the relationship between a kid and their parents. Let’s face it, it has become a bit of a trope and cliché that if somebody has a trouble childhood it’s because of trouble with the parents.”
Thus, when Cinderella is asked why she stays with her evil stepmother, even with the bad treatment she receives, Cinderella says she’s “keeping a promise to her mother” to stay and maintain the house they loved and be good and kind at everyone.
It was important for the filmmakers that they didn’t show Cinderella as the victim of her circumstances, but rather to have her see the world positively, for what it could be if only we strived to be good and kind. Branagh hopes that with a heroine who is good and kind, then “goodness can be reinvented.”
“Ken had a very clear point of view of what was important to him,” Shearmur added. “I remember the first time we met with him, he said, “Let’s make a story about kindness as a super power.’ When you think this is a guy who brought us THOR, you knew he understood the analogy he was making. In a time where female heroines, Katniss Everdeen in THE HUNGER GAMES and Tris in DIVERGENT, have a manifestation of their strength [that] is a lot more physical. . . this Cinderella in her self strength is internal.”
There is also a wonderful message of forgiveness in CINDERELLA that was very intentionally done by the filmmakers. Of course, such a message matches a Christian worldview.
As the movie’s writer, Chris Weitz, also said, “I’ve got a little girl on the way; you realize what a tremendous responsibility [that] is. You get a main line into the hearts and minds of children. So you have to be careful with that.”
That is exactly how we feel at Movieguide® in protecting the eyes and hearts of the innocent from bad, destructive images and ideas in the mass media of popular entertainment.
If you want to know whether CINDERELLA is a fit for your family, check back with Movieguide® for our full review of the movie on this website at www.movieguide.org when the movie finally opens on Friday, March 13.
By Evy Baehr, Executive Managing Editor
Immigrating to France, the Kadam family must build up their Indian Restaurant in the midst of stiff competition in THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is a pro-family movie with a moral message. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is coming out August 8th, staring Helen Mirren and Om Puri, plus some newcomers.
Movieguide® had the chance to speak with Mirren on her role as the competing restaurant owner. Make sure to check out the full review of THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY on www.movieguide.org.
Question: Your character in the movie has an amazing capacity for le moujuos, the perfect thing to say. Is it nice when a script makes you that little bit cooler than you are in real life?
Helen Mirren: Of course! Why do you think we become actors? For that very reason! We get our best lines written for us, and you know, we look intelligent, and we look witty, and we don’t really have to do anything but say the words. But, having said that, that line was absolutely scripted, as you rightfully pointed out, a wonderful line. In fact, we did improvise quite a lot in this film as well, because Lasse (the director) likes to, and I think that’s his magic as a film director. As you all know, film is a very cumbersome, technical, heavy medium. It’s very hard to make a soufflé of a film, which is hopefully what this is, a well-risen soufflé. It is very hard to maintain the lightness of touch. He achieved it by. . . we would shoot the script, and then we would always improvise mess around a bit. So, the set was a very improvisational set, which was lovely.
Question: To what degree was it a pleasure for you to work with Mr. Puri, who is so renowned in a different cultural tradition?
Helen: Yes, different but irreversible. The interesting thing is, especially of the generation that Om is from, there was a great appreciation of English, British because of the connection, but there was always a great tradition of classical theater. I think it’s partly why the Brits and the Indians on certain levels got along very well together. Especially in the world of theater there is this classical tradition. Both of us have done a lot of theater. So, in many ways, Om and I had more in common with each other than maybe I had with Manish or Charlotte, because they come from a sort of very different acting background. Having said that, I have to say you know they were both just so wonderful to work with, but Om and I just naturally feel into it. That was very easy for both of us because we knew of each other’s work. We had enormous respect for each other, and … it’s a shame Om isn’t here because you would fall in love with him. He has this wonderful warmth. . .. He was the guy who would cook these big feasts. He would cook Indian food for everyone, and make a family feeling on the set. Om created his family off the set. It was brilliant.
Question: Just curious, your character in this movie really has a moment of redemption that kind of carries through.
Question: Now, when you tackle somebody and you read the first part of the script, and they can kind of be cold or icy or mean or whatever is it important for you that they have that moment of redemption or is it just kind of a nice plus for this one per se?”
Mirren: In this case, yes. I really wanted to play Madame Mallory because she’s French, and I’m dying to be a French actress, and my pathetic attempt at being a French actress, but if she’d just been a mean French person I don’t think I would’ve gone along with it. Also, because I think it’s one-dimensional. You know we’re all a bit paranoid about the French, aren’t we? I know a lot of Americans are, and they feel just so intimated by the French. Although I do speak good French so it’s easier for me, but you know the French can be very, very intimidating and so this sort of cliché of the cold judgmental, nasty, uptight French person. I wouldn’t be happy with just playing that at all. I have lived and worked in Paris and have met such kindness in Paris with people I didn’t know. The Parisians seem on the surface to be so cold and judgmental and sort of superior, but actually they’re incredibly kind-hearted and generous, and I learned that in Paris.
Question: Can you actually cook? Or, are you just a tremendously engaging fake?
Mirren: I’m the engaging fake. Well, actually I don’t cook in the movie. I run the restaurant. She knows food and understands food and employs very good chefs. She doesn’t actually cook herself. She tastes and judges, but luckily, she doesn’t cook, because I would reveal myself very rapidly to be somewhat inept. The only thing I have to do is break eggs.
Question: What should viewers take away as the message of this movie in your opinion?
Mirren: Well, love thy neighbor. That’s the hardest much more difficult than do not covet thy neighbor’s wife. That’s easy. Love thy neighbor is difficult, that’s why there are wars. It’s the hardest and the most important.
Question: You’ve worked with some of the great directors of all time. What is it are you looking from a director when you are actually acting on set?
Mirren: I think what you want is a comfortable environment that you feel you can invent. Again, because film is such a cumbersome, technical, huge thing, it’s hard to create that little space of peace, calm, creativity and ease, and that’s what you want the director create for you. So, when you walk onto the set, you forget all of that and the fact that it’s costing so much money, but here, you are on your little playground, and you can invent and be free. Encouragement really is simple and I know it’s pathetic we need to be encouraged, but we do. I’m in the middle of working on a film called WOMEN IN GOLD. The film is directed by Simon Curtis, who worked as my assistant many years ago. He was getting my fan mail and now he is my director.
Question: What’s that dynamic like working with him now?
Mirren: He’s not my assistant; he is my director. If my director is a 16-year-old girl or boy, my director is my director, and I give them all my respect and my attention. It doesn’t matter what age they are or anything. If you sign up, then you sign up to this director, and my feeling is that you should just say, okay, this is your project. How can I serve your project. That’s what the relationship is. Of course, within that you contribute hugely with your ideas and your inventions and that’s your job. I think film is the director’s median, surely. So, he is my director.