By Kassy Dillon - August 28, 2018
A patriotic Christian Israeli is seeking to found a city exclusively for Christian Aramaeans in northern Israel in his quest to preserve the Aramean culture and language.
Captain Reserve Shadi Khalloul is a 42-year-old Aramean Christian who is a fellow of the Philos Project, and the chairman of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association. He also was a candidate for Knesset with the Jewish Zionist party in the 2015 elections. In an interview with The Daily Wire, he explained his dream to create his city and the progress so far.
Khalloul describes himself as an Aramean Christian and believes that modern Arameans are indigenous to the land of Israel as well as descendants of the very first Christians. He made it his life mission to preserve his people’s culture while he was in a “Bible as English Literature” class at the University of Nevada where he studied. He said that during a class, the professor referred to Aramaic as a “dead” language, to which he responded that he and his family spoke Aramaic and that it was not dead. Since then, Khalloul returned to Israel and has worked to preserve the Aramaic culture and language.
Khalloul plans to call the town "Aram Hiram" and explained that "Aram" is the name of all Aramaic kingdoms from the Bible, and "Hiram" comes from King Hiram of Lebanon who supplied King Solomon with wood from cedar trees for King Solomon's Temple. He says the land he is asking for consists of barren hills close to where the village of Kafr Bir’im was once located, where he claims his forefathers lived for the last 400 years until the inhabitants were evacuated during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Prior to the evacuation, Kafr Bir’im reportedly had a total population of 1050 Christians who Khalloul says belonged to the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch.
“We need to build bridges through a Christian positive attitude to ask for our rights in a way to lead towards coexistence with Jews and this can come by being positive citizens of the state, defending the state, integrating into the state, and asking for our rights at the same time,” he said.
Khalloul has had various meetings with government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013, which he said later led to a 2014 measure that allowed Christians in Israel to register as “Aramean” on their identity card instead of as Arabs. Last week, he met with the General Director of the Prime Minister’s Office, Yoav Horovitz, where he pitched his proposal for Aram Hiram and discussed other Christian needs in Israel.
Read More: The Daily Wire