BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,758, September 24, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: For many reasons, the Arab world is not at all interested in giving the Palestinian Arabs a state. The Palestinian Arabs don’t really want one either, because why kill the “refugee” goose that lays the golden eggs?
In Israel and in much of the Western world, we tend to think the Arab world is united in its support for the Palestinians—that it wants nothing more than to solve the Palestinian problem by giving them a state, and that all Arabs and Muslims love the Palestinians and hate Israel. This is a simplistic and incomplete view. While it is true that many, perhaps even the majority, of Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, there are a good many who hate the Palestinians just as much.
Their hatred of Israel stems from its success at surviving despite wars, terror, boycotts, and constant enmity. It stems from the fact that a Jewish state exists even though Judaism, in the Muslim view, was superseded by Islam, the “true religion.” This hatred is exacerbated by other stark disparities: Israel is a democracy while many Arabs and Muslims live under dictatorships; Israel is rich while many Arabs and Muslims are poor; Israel is a paradise compared to some Arab countries, many of which resemble nothing so much as the last train stop before hell (see Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan; the list goes on). In short, they despise Israel because it has succeeded in areas where they have failed.
But why should they hate the Palestinian Arabs? After all, the Arab narrative says the Palestinian Arabs’ land was stolen and they were forced to become refugees. Surely they are deserving of unreserved support?
The answer to this question is complex. It is a function of Middle Eastern culture that neither Israelis nor most Westerners fully understand or recognize.