(JNS.org) Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman celebrated the Assyrian Christian New Year with the Scandinavian country’s large Assyrian diaspora community amid the ongoing persecution the community faces in Iraq and Syria.
“Assyrian brothers and sisters, it is a tremendous honor for me as a representative of the Jewish state of Israel to be able to address you all on this great day—the ancient and glorious Assyrian new year celebration of Akitu,” said Bachman.
“Indeed the Assyrians and Jewish people are no strangers to one another. For almost 3,000 years, the sons of Ashur and Israel lived side by side in Assyria, the land of two rivers,” Bachman said, in reference to the Assyrian homeland in modern Iraq, which was also home one to a large and historic Jewish community until their expulsion in the mid-20th century by the Iraqi government.
Like the exiled Iraqi Jewish community before them, Assyrian Christians have come under an intense assault. Islamic State terrorists have expelled hundreds of thousands of Assyrians and other minority groups from their homes in northern Iraq and Syria amid a campaign to wipe the minority groups off the map.
Assyrian Christian groups recently spearheaded an effort asking that U.N. missions from various countries call on the U.N. Security Council to issue a resolution against Islamic State’s persecution of minorities and to take tangible steps to save those vulnerable groups.
The Assyrian people consider themselves to be direct descendants of the numerous ancient Mesopotamian civilizations such as the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. Today, the Assyrians are based in northern Iraq’s Nineveh plains regions and in areas in northern Syria and Turkey, where they have fought to preserve the customs, culture, and languages of the area’s past, despite facing numerous waves of persecution, mass killings, and expulsions since the invasion of Islam in the 7th century CE.