Most people are only familiar with the Assyrians as an ancient people who conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel before laying siege (ultimately unsuccessfully, thanks to Divine intervention) to Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, Assyrians were again gathering in Israel, but not as part of an invasion. They were here to participate in a conference hosted by the Committee for the Resurrection of the Aramaic Language.
Aramaic, and its various dialects, was for centuries the dominant language of the region, including in the Neo-Assyrian Empire that came into conflict with the other kingdoms of the biblical era.
There are today only about three million Assyrians in the world, and only about half of them still live in the Middle East, where their ancient language is hanging on by a thread. Except in Israel.
The Jewish state has in recent years facilitated something of a revival of the Aramaic language, which was likewise used as a lingua…