wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Back from the dead

There's an article in the Jewish Daily Forward about an attempt to revive Aramaic as a living language for the Maronite Christians, one of the Eastern Rite churches in union with Rome. There are some interesting parallels to the Latin Revival movement, although the Maronites have the advantage that unlike Latin, there are several thousand people who actually do use Aramaic as a daily language. (Perversely, as the article notes, the largest group of Aramaic-speakers is in Sweden.)

Of course, this being the Middle East, there is a political aspect to this. The Maronite Church is not united on this, regarding the movement as an attempt to apply "divide and conquer" tactics by the Jewish majority in Israel to the Arab minority, not all of which is Maronite or even Christian. The ultimate goal of the Aramaic revivalists is in fact to establish a confessional Christian state for Maronites, Assyrians, Chaldeans and other Eastern Rite groups in the Middle East, and given the way things have been going in Lebanon and Syria this is, perhaps, a not unreasonable goal.

I think the Maronites missed their best chance to do this in the 1990s, when South Lebanon was an autonomous Christian state under Israeli protection, but was too weak to withstand Hezbollah once the IDF withdrew. Still, times have changed; the Israelis may be willing to have such a state as a weak ally rather than no allies at all should push come to shove with the Arabs again. It' also possible they might be able to talk the Druze into doing something similar. My copy of Dunnigan & Bay's A Quick & Dirty Guide to War is thirty years old by now, but I seem to recall that they predicted this would be the ultimate fate of Lebanon: a breakup into confessional states made up of Sunni, Shia, Druze and Maronites. They didn't expect anything to happen with Syria, but the slow disintegration of the Assad regime may open the door to the Lebanese breakup. We shall see what we shall see.
Tags: foreign policy wonkery
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