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.