By: Peter BetBasoo
ChristiansOfIraq.com Friday, January 04, 2008
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.
Dear Madame Fiorina:
It is with great interest that I read your speech delivered on September 26,
2001, titled "Technology, Business and Our way of Life: What's Next" [sic].
I was particularly interested in the story you told at the end of your
speech, about the Arab/Muslim civilization. As an Assyrian, a non-Arab,
Christian native of the Middle East, whose ancestors reach back to 5000
B.C., I wish to clarify some points you made in this little story, and to
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.
I know you are a very busy woman, but please find ten minutes to read what
follows, as it is a perspective that you will not likely get from anywhere
else. I will answer some of the specific points you made in your speech,
then conclude with a brief perspective on this Arabist/Islamist ideology.
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
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.
You state, "its architects designed buildings that defied gravity." I am not
sure what you are referring to, but if you are referring to domes and
arches, 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
"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).
"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.
"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
"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).
"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
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
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?
"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
I hope you found this information enlightening. You may contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org for further questions.
This is why its ridiculous for NASA administrator Charles Bolden to claim theres even a good case to be made that Islam should be given any credit at all.