Israel’s Aramean Christians and the Future of Religious Minorities in the Middle East

The decision of a group of Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel to identify themselves as Arameans—and not as Arabs—has deep roots in their history. By officially recognizing them as a national group, Israel is supporting their challenge to the long-accepted narrative of Middle Eastern identity. Aryeh Tepper writes:

The idea that Arabs, irrespective of religion, constitute one nation was promoted by some Middle Eastern Christian intellectuals throughout much of the 20th century. Indeed, it remains popular in certain Christian circles today, including in Israel. Self-professed Aramean Christians will tell you, however, that it was an idea born out of their community’s political vulnerability. To survive in an Arab-dominated Middle East, they had to “become” Arab. But the idea that adopting an Arab national identity would work to their benefit has been shattered in recent years, as the rise of ultra-radical Islam has resulted in attacks on Christians in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq that sometimes border on ethnic cleansing.

Read more at Tower

More about: Aramaic, Aramean Christians, Israeli Arabs, Israeli Christians, Middle East Christianity

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy