Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, The University of Tokyo

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman proposed to call the Israeli-UAE agreement for normalization “Abraham Accord.”

This is a significant development in the international politics of terms and definitions. Struggle for the dominance over the use of certain words and definitions on a disputed issue is as fierce as that for more physical gains.

Introduction of the term “Abrahamic” into the discourse of the Middle East politics drastically would radically change the constellation of the major actors.

In the twentieth century, nationalism and anti-colonialism were the dominant terms in defining the friends and enemies in the Middle East politics. The predominant discourse was that of the struggle between the western colonial powers and nationalist forces. In this framework, the focus of actions and movements in the Middle East regional and international was in the struggle between the act of intervention and domination from outside western powers and the counteractions by the nationalist forces.

In this context, leading nations in the Middle East, Arabs, Turks and Persians were supposed to be on the same camp and should be united against western colonial intervening powers and Jews were recognized as part of it.

The development of the regional security in the first two decades of the 21st century has eroded this background structure and lines dividing opposing camps were increasingly blurred.

The use of the word “Abrahamic” to describe and define the Israeli-UAE accord is intended to reunite the people who share the ancestral origin in the Biblical-Quranic worldview. In the ancestral biblical setting, Jews and Arabs share roots of their languages and tribal lineages. Jews were speaking Arabic in the long history of Islam. This tie based on the same origin were ruptured in the modern history of nationalism and anti-colonialism.

It seems US policy makers gathering around the Trump administration are strategically proposing the ancestral tribal roots as a common ground for Arabs and Jews. The obvious aim is to be united against the expansion and intervention of the new colonial power, arising this time from within the Middle East region, Iran and Turkey. The new dividing lines are being drawn between those old regional empires of Ottomans and Persians on the one hand and the nations with the same tribal origin, Arabs and Jews on the other.

This radical redefinition of opposing camps in the Middle East is still in the initial stage and remains to be seen if it is widely accepted or not.