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Descendants of an ancient people who originated in what is now Syria and Iraq, most Arameans now live in villages in the Galilee, Nazareth and Haifa.
World Bulletin / News Desk
A community of self-proclaimed Arameans in Israel are struggling to get official recognition as a minority within the country’s minority Christian population.
This group of Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel have long been represented under the umbrella of Israel’s 130,000-strong Christian minority – most of whom are classed as Israel Arabs.
Although Arab Christians in Israel are already a minority among 1.65 million Israeli Arabs – most of whom are Muslim are prefer to be called Palestinian citizens of Israel – this small community of Arameans neither describe themselves as Arabs or Palestinians.
Descendants of an ancient people who originated in what is now Syria and Iraq, most Arameans now live in villages in the Galilee, Nazareth and Haifa. They also have tiny communities scattered across the Middle East, in addition to those who moved to the West, particularly in Sweden.
While many Arameans in Sweden have retained the ancient Aramaic language – a Semitic language often associated with Jesus Christ – Arameans in Israel are trying to revive their language in their churches and schools.
Former Israeli army lieutenant Shadi Halul has been running late-summer Aramean Heritage Camps for Aramean children to help them get back in touch with their roots, teaching them folk songs in the Aramaic language.