Above photo: Tunisian fans unfurl a large Palestinian flag during a World Cup match in Qatar on November 26, 2022. AFP.
Israeli reporters covering the FIFA World Cup in Qatar have complained of facing “humiliation” and “hate” because soccer fans from around the world refuse to speak to them.
In dozens of videos shared on social media, soccer fans are seen turning their backs on Israeli reporters once they find out that they come from the apartheid state.
Arab fanatics, in particular, often take the opportunity to call for the liberation of Palestine and an end to Israeli apartheid.
The situation has even forced Israeli reporters to awkwardly pretend they are from a different country.
“We feel hated, surrounded by hostility and unwanted,” Raz Shechnik, media and music correspondent for Israeli news outlet Yedioth Ahronoth, wrote in an opinion piece published Nov. 27.
“After a while, we decided to claim that we were Ecuadorian when someone asked us where we were from,” Shechnik continues, stating that the experience has definitely not been “fun.”
He also alleges that his crew is “followed at all times by Palestinians, Iranians, Qataris, Moroccans, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians and Lebanese, all giving us hateful looks.”
According to Shechnik, all of this is happening despite his explanation to fans that the Israelis “come in peace.”
“They would really like to see us wiped off the face of the earth,” Shechnik said, “any notion of Israel evokes their utter disgust.”
Fan reactions caused shock in Tel Aviv, as Israelis apparently expected a warm welcome to Qatar two years after signing normalization agreements with a handful of Arab nations, despite having committed countless human rights abuses against the Palestinians on a daily basis.
“There are many attempts by many people here, from all over the Arab world, to come out against us because we stand for normalization,” Channel 12 reporter Ohad Hemo said during a televised report over the weekend.
Similarly, a Sunday article published in Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest-circulation newspaper, lamented that “the World Cup in Qatar has brought ‘Israel’ face to face with an unpleasant truth and a harsh reality; one that is extremely painful. For Israelis, for the first time, all those Israelis who to date have been so enthusiastic about the Persian or Arab Gulf, have now tasted for the first time rejection, contempt, and refusal to accept Israelis in an Muslim Arab state.”
While Qatar does not officially recognize the apartheid state, Doha has allowed direct flights from Tel Aviv as part of a deal brokered by FIFA. This raised hopes in the West that Qatar would join the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco in signing the Abraham Accords.
However, days before the start of the World Cup, Tel Aviv urged citizens traveling to Qatar to be “less visibly Israeli” and to maintain a low profile by hiding Israeli flags and stars of David.