Why Arabic Countries Back Palestinians

The Arab world opposed the idea of a Jewish state even before there was a Jewish state.

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: The Arab world has stood behind the Palestinian cause from the beginning, even after Palestinians launched the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Here’s why.

The origins: Arabic countries opposed the idea of a Jewish state before there ever was a Jewish state. Five Arab armies invaded Israel on its first day of existence, and when the small Jewish army beat all five in 1948, the humiliation renewed their opposition.

Evolution: Since that point, solidarity with the Palestinians had two main sources.

  • The first was the Arab nationalist movement, which saw the conflict as a uniting force for Arabs against Israel, a “colonial entity” to be driven out.

  • The other source is religion. Many believe Israel is a Muslim land, home to important Islamic sites such as Al-Aqsa Mosque, being desecrated by the Jews. Rhetoric about Jews violating a divine right to the land has proven powerful.

Cracks: Soon, other issues began to take priority over the Palestinian cause. In 2020, Israel made diplomatic deals with five different Arab states. Before the current Israel-Hamas war, it looked like Israel was on the cusp of normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia.

  • Still: No Arab country is likely to take in Palestinian refugees fleeing the war. Egypt and Jordan won’t mainly because it would hurt the chances of a Palestinian state being established, but also due to the economic toll of refugees and the risk of terrorism.