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The Infidels

by Joe David — activist, author, teacher. (website)

Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014 at 09:48 PM UT


The Infidels by Joe David

The Infidels
by Joe David

Purchase Information: Amazon

For more information, contact: staff [ a t ] bfat.com | www.bfat.com | 703-587-0457

Book Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Books for All Times, Inc. (November 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093936008X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-939360-08-6
    Ebook: 978-0-939360-09-3
  • Product Dimensions:
    8 x 5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

Book Description

The Great War began with two shots: one aimed at the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Hapsburg throne, and the other aimed at his wife, Sophie. What many thought would be just another Balkan squabble quickly escalated into a major war felt around the world.

As Europe burst into flames and millions of soldiers began battling the forces of nationalism, the Ottoman Turks joined arms with the Germans and extended the conflict to their longtime enemies, the Russians and the Christians. Incited by secular leaders in Constantinople, northwestern Persia became a warzone in which radical religious tribes invaded Christian villages and systematically martyred hundreds of thousands of ‘infidels” who dared to resist conversion.

On a small slice of ancient, isolated land owned by a wealthy Assyrian family, a young Christian girl awakens to the brutal massacre of her race in a war that she is too young to understand. Stripped of her privileged and comfortable existence, pursued by a Muslim governor – a symbol of the rising new world order – and surrounded by hostility and greed, deep-sated hatred and unspeakable horrors, she must somehow come to terms with the nightmare that her life has become.

Visit the past to grasp the present – and the terror facing us in the future.

The Infidels by Joe David, available worldwide through your favorite book service.

 

Book Reviews

Joe David’s latest book is in the great tradition of novels like Forty Days of Musa Dagh and histories like the Rape of Nanking. It reveals the scars of brutality and inhumanity as history intersects with the ordinary lives of innocent people.
— George Thomas Kurian, Editor
The World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press, 2001)
The Nelson New Christian Dictionary (Thomas Nelson, 2002)

Readers will be inspired and informed by Joe David's dramatization of the Assyrian genocide and the struggle of civilians to overcome the hardships of the war and its aftermath.
Hannibal Travis, Esq.
Editorial Advisory Board Member, Genocide Studies International
Editorial Board Member, Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies

The Infidels is a story that has been all but lost in the shadow of the Armenian genocide. Now, the memory of the thousands of Assyrians massacred alongside the Armenians is finally being recognized and Joe David’s book helps to bring the innocent victims back into the realm of history.

— Igor A. Kotler
President and Executive Director
Museum of Human Rights, Freedom and Tolerance

I found Joe David’s version of a rarely discussed genocide, the plotted murder of the Assyrians by the Kurds and the Turks during World War I, to be thoroughly engrossing. In writing his novel, David not only demonstrates a significant knowledge of the customs and history of the times, but he also vividly brings to life the past in an exciting and meaningful way.
Anahit Khosroeva, PhD
Senior Researcher, Institute of History
National Academy of Sciences of Armenia
 

News Releases

Connie Martinson and Joe David on the Connie Martinson Talks Books Show, September, 2014.
Connie Martinson and Joe David on the Connie Martinson Talks Books Show, September, 2014.

PRESS RELEASE

WARRENTON (VA) – Author Joe David recently taped a cable TV interview with Connie Martinson, which will be aired nationally in September on the Connie Martinson Talks Books Show. It is currently available for viewing on YouTube.

His latest book, The Infidels, is a moving story about a rarely discussed massacre in which hundreds of thousands of Assyrians were martyred, because of their Christian faith during one of the most hushed up genocides of the twentieth century. Set in Persia during World War I, the book tells a moving story of one young girl’s struggle to survive the Great War. 

“It is a fictionalization of my mother’s story,” David told Connie. “Although her experiences are different from the story character’s experiences, it is nonetheless an honest recreation of what occurred in Persia and what my mother recorded for me during the period the Ottoman Turks went on a killing spree in 1915.”

This isn’t a just a story about the past, David is quick to underscore. This is story about the present, and what awaits us in the future, if care isn’t taken to end the slaughtering of Christians today in the Middle East.


 

PRESS RELEASE

Is the world ignoring the lessons from history and spinning out of control?

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to this question, Joe David, author of The Infidels, asks another question: Are the international crises, instigated by savage groups like ISIS, the result of conflicting religious views, as many are led to believe, or are they the result of something even more urgent?

“In order to provide cause-and-effect answers to important world events like this, historians must ask many similar questions,” the controversial author of The Infidels said. “What their conclusions will be after examining today’s headline stories, specifically the brutal slaughtering of ‘infidels’ and the mass movement of refugees out of the Middle East into Europe, can only be conjecture at this point.

“During World War I, the Middle East was also a setting for a major war, one which radical Muslims used to cleanse the area of Christians. Like today, this resulted in countless Christians being brutally slaughtered, and countless more being forced to immigrate to other countries. This massacre and mass exodus of Christians, initiated then by Turkish leaders, was done to advance their imperialistic dream of rebuilding a crumbling Ottoman Empire.”

In the Infidels, the author personalizes this historical moment by telling a moving story about his Assyrian mother who was deeply affected by this World War I genocide. Like so many Christian refugees today, she too had to abandon her privileged and comfortable life in order to escape the unspeakable horrors of war.

Despite the differences in spin, the author wonders if the reason for the savage slaughtering of Christians that occurred then has any similarity to what is occurring now. “When closely examined by historians, will my mother’s story parallel the present?” David asks. “Is this ISIS led crisis, which is spreading rapidly to Europe, a deliberate distraction to conceal a major and more evil plot, or is it the story?”

In the well-researched historical novel, The Infidels, the author plants the needed background for a reader to draw his own conclusion. A new edition of The Infidels is available world-wide (ISBN: 978-0-939360-08-6) through Books for All Times. An eBook version will be available soon (ISBN: ISBN 978-0-939360-09-3).

For more information, visit www.bfat.com; for the author’s youtube interview, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqhsEJecdD0; and for a two-part article on background history, “Silencing the Past,” visit: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/17457#.V08P05v2bVI.


 

Silencing the Past (Parts I and II)

by Joe David, August 07, 2015.

“One moment she would be calmly knitting or reading; the next moment she would be in tears, sorrowfully talking to herself in Syriac.”

The massacre of the Assyrians by ISIS has awakened horrifying echoes of their massacre by the Ottoman Turks in WWI. The author's mother lived to tell the tale.

Exactly one hundred years ago several million Christians were brutally murdered. Among those were about 250,000 to 300,000 Assyrians. According to a statement by the Earl of Listow in 1933, the Ottoman Turks while cleansing Turkey of religious impurities wiped out almost two-thirds of the Assyrian Christian population.1

No one knows how many Christians were totally martyred during World War I – and no one probably ever will. Many of the official documents have been sealed or destroyed by the Turkish government in order to silence the past. Yet despite their efforts, the memory of those brutal murders still lives on. They are kept alive today for future generations by the children and the children’s children of the survivors.

My mother was one of the survivors of the massacre. Although she rarely discussed it, she never forgot it. It always echoed in her silence.

Like my father, she was Assyrian. She was born in Persia on the edge of the Fertile Crescent in an area often identified as the Cradle of Civilization. When she left the Middle East after World War I, first for France and later for America, she left behind buried in the ruins of ancient civilization many family members. For her, looking back was not easy. To avoid it, she silenced the past with iron determination.

What I will always remember about her was her bullet wound below her left breast. It was an ugly scar, a cruel reminder of what she had experienced. To hide the scar and to escape the memories it evoked, she would cover herself with layers of clothes, even during the hot summers.

When I first saw the scar as a child, I was horrified at the sight of it. To avoid thinking about it, I would lose myself in mindless and childish activities. When I saw the scar again 25 years ago, while visiting her in a nursing home, I was immediately overcome by emotion. It came with a rush that required all my adult strength to control.

My mother was in her early twenties when she arrived in America to marry my father. She arrived with enough gold to start a new life and enough raw memories for several lifetimes. My parents were married in Mexico, and they settled in Chicago. It was a pre-arranged marriage, planned by surviving family members, an arrangement which my mother never fully appreciated. As a result, the marriage was loveless in the beginning, but it slowly grew into something quite special over the years. I believe this was because of their similar backgrounds.

Although my mother found safety in America, where she and my father lived most of their adult lives, she never completely escaped her war memories. Sometimes the buried demons from her past would surface, and she would find herself struggling with them, remembering. It often happened suddenly, unexpectedly. One moment she would be calmly knitting or reading; the next moment she would be in tears, sorrowfully talking to herself in Syriac. What might have triggered her mood change was never clear to me; it could’ve been something she read, something I said, or some familiar object taking on a new and significant meaning.

I never made many inquiries about it during my earlier years. I was too busy running from her past. As a result, I knew very little about the war years, and even less about the family. I knew most of my family members were Christians and one or two had even become Muslims to survive, but that’s about all. Even if I were told more, I doubted if I would have ever understood. What she and her family had experienced was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Like so many boys growing up in comfortable surroundings in Chicago, my life revolved around school and my innocent, boyish adventures with my classmates.

Still, no matter how hard I tried, I could never fully forget how much she suffered. The memory of it would often return for fleeting moments and leave me unsettled without my ever understanding why. Then on 9/11 everything changed. To my surprise, the broken pieces from her past came together, dramatically with clarity.

World War I

World War I began with two shots, one aimed at Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Hapsburg throne, and the other aimed at his wife Sophie. At the time of the assassinations, all the essential elements for war were in place in Europe (i.e., military and naval readiness, extreme nationalism, an imperialistic greed for more land and colonies, secret treaties, and international unrest). Yet everyone was surprised when the murder of the royal couple by a Serbian Nationalist became, not another Balkan squabble, but a major world war.2

In Turkey, the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. It was seriously being weakened by its abusive treatment of the Christians in the Balkan countries, which it had ruled with unyielding power. Here’s how one history book recorded it:

The Christians who made up most of the population (of the Balkans) were regarded as “cattle” by their Moslem rulers. They had to pay extra taxes and were cruelly punished if they failed to do so. On occasion, their property was seized by dishonest officers. Their children were carried off for the Army or harem. If they dared to rebel, their villages were burned down and the inhabitants were put to the sword. Force and fear were the mainstays of Turkish rule.3

Two Balkan wars with Turkey followed, one in 1912, the other in 1913. These two uprising, along with a war with Italy over Libya, left the Ottoman Empire seriously exhausted and by 1914 bankrupt.

In Constantinople, the Young Turks who were in power saw the war in Europe as an opportunity to save their crumbling empire. They believed if they joined forces with the Central Powers (Germany and the Austria-Hungary) against the Allies (England, France and Russia), they could gain from the alliance the support needed to rebuild their empire and defeat their long-time enemies, the Russians and the non-Muslims.4

Their plan for defeating the enemy was simple. They would unite the Muslims world-wide by declaring a jihad. Both the Turks and their cohorts, the Germans, believed a Holy War could be an effective way to turn the Muslims living in European colonies around the world against the Allies. If successful, the uprisings would seriously weaken the Allies by forcing them to fight a war on several fronts (in their colonies and in Europe), and by so doing, make them easier to conquer.5

Fortunately, the plot didn’t play out as the Central Powers had hoped; many Muslims in the colonies joined the war, but not on the side of the Ottoman Turks. The failure of the Turks to gain world support of Muslims didn’t discourage them. In an attempt to strengthen their empire and to eliminate religious diversity in Turkey, they systematically and savagely began to kill the Christians. They justified their madness by blaming them for the disintegration of their empire.6

Part II

Persia

My mother, Asly Moorhatzh (David), was born in 1905 in a village called Dizatakya. It was one of the 115 Assyrian Christian villages in Northwest Persia clustered in The Urmia Plain in West Azerbaijan,7 a short distance from the ancient, walled city of Urmia. Her family’s history in the area stretched back to about 1650, maybe even earlier with a little research.8 Many members of her family prospered and attended school in America and Europe. A few eventually settled in America in the early19th Century, while others remained in Persia where they maintained their position. From my mother’s report, her grandfather had a title (earned by deed or marriage).

Separated from the Ottoman Empire by the Zagros Mountains in the West and protected from foreign invaders by the Russians in the North, the Muslim and the Christian in The Plain lived together comfortably in harmony.

Three rivers irrigated the land and provided the land with the needed water to raise crops. As a result, the area prospered and became known to travelers as the “Paradise of Persia.”9

A large mix of missionary groups from Russia, Europe and America ran schools and missions in the area, and exposed the residents to other cultures. Unlike the Sultan of Turkey, the Shah of Persia and his government tolerated this as long as the Christians never attempted to move to other areas of the country to convert the Muslims (or, as they were often called in Persia, the Mohammedans) to Christianity.10

As a result, the Assyrians enjoyed a lifestyle that was envied by their less fortunate neighbors – the Kurds (who lived in the Zagros Mountains) and the Turks (who lived in the Ottoman Empire). This envy – mixed with a commitment to radical Islamic ideas – released itself during World War I with horrible acts of atrocity.

What followed became a replay with only slight variation of what had occurred many times before in history – and what is even occurring today in the Middle East. Since my mother’s family were prominent, they were immediately targeted.

The war against the Christians, which began in Turkey in 1914, expanded into Persia in 1915. This occurred suddenly when the Russian troops for strategic reasons had to relocate temporarily further north, leaving The Plain unprotected for five months (from January to May 1915). Almost overnight the area swelled with enemy forces, specifically the Turks, Kurds and other predatory Muslims, driven by an obsession to slaughter the Christians and to strip them of their wealth. Thousands of Assyrians sought shelter at the American Mission in Urmia. To protect many of them, the mission had to exceed its capacity. This led to the spread of filth, disease, and, because of the shortage of food, even famine.11

Much of what we know about the “race murders” (which genocide was called then) comes to us from random documents and reports and from the writings of missionaries and other reliable survivors who were eyewitness to these crimes.

One of my relatives, Rev Jacob David (whom I always called Kasha Yacob) taught at the Marafat School (1904-1920) where during the war he protected and fed distressed Christians. In a published article, he wrote the following about his experiences:

In 1914 the Russian Army stationed in Rezaieh (the Persian name for Urmia) suddenly withdrew, then the Turkish Army took possession of our community, and as soon as it came, it began killing the Christians and looting and burning their homes. During this holocaust, many Christians fled to our American Mission grounds where they found refuge for five months, while the Turks were attacking us. I put an American flag on the top of the school gate and sheltered about 900 persons. I became their physician, nurse, and pastor, besides providing food for them.

On May 15, 1915, the Turks withdrew and the Russians took their place. The surviving Christians left the mission grounds and went to their home towns. Our school work, which had been suspended, started again in the fall 1915. Now we all thought that our troubles were over. All of us began cultivating our farms and vineyards, rebuilding our ruined homes. Sadly enough, we were mistaken – our future became worse than our past had ever been!

In 1917 the Russians became Bolsheviks. The great army of the czar just melted away. Every soldier left for Russia. The Turks again appeared on our borders to attack the surviving Christians. Our untrained young men in order to defend their homes and families for six months fought the Turks desperately. Finally, they lost courage and spirit. On July 31, 1918, about 80,000 Christians were evacuated, marching southward like sheep without a shepherd.12

Many years ago a family member gave me a 38-page diary written by an American missionary named Reverend Hugo A. Mueller. In his diary, the reverend faithfully recorded day-to-day stories of what was happening to Christians during the Turks’ occupation of Urmia. In his diary, he recorded with some detail what Kasha Yacob didn’t. Here are two entries from his diary:

February 23, 1915 - The street was quiet, not a soul to be seen anywhere, not even the guards who had been posted on the street last night. The sun soon began to shine and the birds to chirp … What we (saw) and (heard) was … the sun was shining on the bodies of five persons hanging from the gallows, just outside the Kordishar gate; and the birds were chirping over 40 or 50 bullet-pierced bodies that had been murdered in the night.

February 24, 1915 - A group of workmen go to bury the dead … Forty bodies are counted heaped in a pit with a little dirt thrown over them. Some have broken skulls and some have been stabbed after being shot. All but two or three of these were identified and buried. Some distance away another body was found on the road, butchered ... Two men, one wounded in the arm, the other wounded in the thigh, find their way to our yard, aided, as I understand by a Moslem. One of them related how they were all marched out to the hill and told they were being taken as prisoners. Reaching the hill they were ordered to sit down and rest by the side of a pit. Here they were shot in a bunch…The bodies were rolled over with the butt of the soldiers’ guns and any seen to be alive were dispatched by bayonet and rolled into the pit.13

One missionary in his diary summed up his tragedy more personally:

All about me, amidst the snow and the piercing cold, were hundreds of refugees, thinly clad or only half-clad, suffering from the winds and the cold, from wounds and the keenest torment of every kind. Surrounded by the most fiendish and heartless of enemies, whose very creed is cruelty, whose religion teaches that paradise awaits the destroyer of the unbeliever, there I was in the center of this great mass of humanity herded like sheep, unprotected by the slightest barrier, waling, shrieking, moaning, in an agony of utmost despair.14

The stories recorded of the savage brutality against the Christians seemed limitless. It wasn’t beyond the Muslims to soak Christians in oil and burn them alive, saw off their legs and arms, gouge their eyes with knives, chop babies into pieces, and cut open the stomachs of pregnant women to remove their fetus.15

Although I may never know exactly what my mother had seen or experienced, I do know from recorded history that it had to be terrifying.

My Mother’s Story

My mother’s published story in September 1949, is a little different than my fictional account in my novel, The Infidels. I took a few liberties with her experience to provide drama, simply because I didn’t have enough information at my disposal to tell her story. Many details from her past beyond the fragments that she had shared with me and my sister have been buried with her. Nevertheless, my story, though recorded as fiction, is an honest, researched story of what had occurred during the war years. Here is an abbreviation of what my mother had published:

In 1918, out of much sorrow, we became refugees from our country. My grandfather with many of my mother’s relatives was martyred. We didn’t know where to go, until (thank God) Great Britain opened her door, took us in and cared for us.

(When it was safe to leave British protection), we began to travel from place to place. With a 175 passengers, we took a steamboat to Baghdad on the Tigris River. All of us had plenty of money. Although the Arab government had promised us safety, we were held up by Arab bandits. One man was killed, and three more were wounded.

I was shot twice, and my arm paralyzed. Later I was lost in the desert for 48 hours… I was fifteen years old. My bed and pillow were sand; I rested under a small tree. In the dark, alone, fear took hold of me. I called and called the names of the servants (there were about 10 to 15 servants in my father’s house), but no one answered.

On the morning of the second day, the British soldiers came, searching for me.
So I was found.16

Although my mother never publicly revealed the true depth of her despair, she did allude to it in this article. Like many survivors, she had to pay a high price for what she had seen and knew. Up to nearly the end of her life in the early 1990s, she was haunted by the demons from her past. They broke through her defenses while asleep and came alive in her nightmares. To ease her through the troubled times, especially in the beginning while her psychological wounds were healing, she found comfort in Christianity.

One of the most terrifying experiences that anyone could ever know is being helplessly trapped, surrounded by an evil enemy, determined to destroy you. This was what my mother once knew as a young Christian girl growing up in Persia; this is also what many Christians and non-Muslims living in the Middle East know today. I oftentimes wonder how my mother would react to the current events in the Middle East, if she were alive.
Would she still be silent about her past?

Sources:

  1. Schwarten, Helen N.J., My Story: Persia to America, Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation, Chicago, page 35.
  2. Zebel, Sydney H. and Schwartz, Sidney, Past to Present, A World History, pages 541-542.
  3. Ibid, page 472.
  4. “Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq, and Sudan,” by Hannibal Travis, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, 2010, manuscript, pp 2-12.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. http://aina.org/maps/urmiamap.htm.
  8. The Moorhatch Family Tree, which was passed from father to son, and was last recorded by Samuel Moorhatch during his lifetime.
  9. Shahbaz, Yonah H., The Rage of Islam, Philadelphia, The Roger William Press, 1918, page 3.
  10. Ishaya, Arianne, “From Contributions to Diaspora: Assyrians in the History of Urmia, Iran, http://www.nineveh.com/Assyrians%20in%20the%20History%20of%20Urmia,%20Iran.html.
  11. Miller, Reverend Hugo A., a typed copy of his diary written in 1915 of his experiences in Persia during the war.
  12. David, Reverend Jacob, “My Twenty Years in Persia,” Chicago Tract Society, Chicago, undated.
  13. Miller, Reverend Hugo A., a typed copy of his diary, pages 19-20.
  14. Shahbaz, Yonah, The Rage of Islam, Philadelphia, page 89.
  15. Ibid, pages 87-99.
  16. David, Elsie, “Call Unto Me”, A Gospel Courier, World-Wide Courier Publications, Milwaukee, September 1949.
 

About the author

Joe DavidJoe David’s first book, The Fire Within, because of its successful dramatization of important issues in education, made the reading list at two universities and received national public attention in the 1980s. For nearly nine years, he was a frequent radio and television talk show guest in major U.S. cities, where he candidly discussed issues in education.

Over the years, he has written for professional journals, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and books, including the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project, NPR Radio (The Best of Our Knowledge), The Forum (University of West Florida), U.S. Airways, Basic Education (Council for Basic Education), Christian Science Monitor, and much more. He is the author of six books.

For more information, contact: staff [ a t ] bfat.com | www.bfat.com | 703-587-0457



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