Do Not Overinterpret Qatar’s Hostility toward Israelis

December 12, 2022 | Hussein Aboubakr
About the author: Hussein Aboubakr is an Egyptian-American writer and works as project director at the Endowment for Middle East Truth.

In order to host the World Cup soccer championship, Qatar—a major funder of Hamas and exporter of anti-Semitism—agreed to allow Israeli fans and reporters into its borders for the duration of the tournament. Many of the roughly 4,000 citizens of the Jewish state who came to the emirate for the games were surprised at the animus they encountered from soccer fans, local businesses, and even cab drivers. Hussein Aboubakr writes:

Pro-Palestinian activists and Palestinian media picked up these stories in the most celebratory ways, making video compilations and using them to prove that the Abraham Accords never represented the true opinion of most Arabs. Many of them, including sympathetic Western observers, used them to bolster the claim that the Palestinian cause pretty much remains the unifying cause of all the Arabs.

But while a first emotional impression might indicate such a possibility, this is more of a propagandistic depiction of reality than the truth. All such incidents, including the hysterical waving of Palestinian flags by many Arab fans, were utterly ignored by Emirati, Saudi, and Bahraini media outlets. Many of the Arab Gulf social-media personalities sympathetic to the Abraham Accords even used the opportunity to deride Qatar and the hatred the Palestinian cause produces.

[T]here is little doubt such hostility would not have occurred without the official anti-Israel policy and climate that Qatar insists on maintaining and funding domestically and regionally. The . . . experience of Israelis in Qatar is a stark contrast to their experience in the UAE, where Israelis flooded Dubai only to find a welcoming and hospitable environment. . . . The intimidation and harassment of Israelis in Doha didn’t occur because of the spontaneous outbreak of love of Palestine but because everyone knows the leaders of Qatar approve of it. If this proves anything, it is not that the Abraham Accords do not work; it is that they most certainly do.

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