Tuesday 07 February 2023 

Israeli reporters' notebook from Qatar: We encounter mostly hate

Ynet journalists share their experience of being the target of disdain, disgust, and threats, from Arab soccer fans, even those hailing from countries who have forged relations with Israel.

As reporters, we never though we were the story, certainly not in a major event such as the soccer World Cup, but after more than a week in Doha, we cannot avoid sharing with our readers, our experiences here, Ynet News reported.


We feel hated, surrounded by hostility, unwanted. A nice Qatari who asked us if we were from Israel said he would have wanted to welcome us but we, in fact were not welcome.


"Get yourselves out of here, the sooner the better," he said without hesitation. And this from the host country, not some random citizen of Lebanon, for example.


Don't get us wrong. Covering this sporting event, second only to the Olympics, is an experience. We were lucky to be here to cover the soccer, which we love.


This is a dream come true and yes, its hard work but we would have agreed to sleep on the sidewalk and embrace Mexican fans, to keep warm, if Qatari law had permitted.


But no. this is not fun. Far from it.

We are "escorted," at all times by Palestinians, Iranians, Qataries, Moroccans, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians and Lebanese, all giving us looks full of hate.


The Saudi Arabians are different and they greeted us with smiles.


Palestinian flag raised during World Cup



At first, we explained that we come in peace. We identified as Israelis. But when we saw that by reaching out, we only end up entangled in arguments with Arabs, including abuse in a language we somewhat understand, we decided to claim we were Ecuadorian.


We found out that much like Israelis, Muslims are fans of Brazil's national team, the Seleção Canarinho. After a game, we approached the Brazilians who were celebrating, to snap some photos. But at every attempt, Palestinian flags appeared in our frames as barrages of abuse were directed towards us. Once they even surrounded a fan from the Arab city of Kafr Qasi, who came up to talk to us, scaring him away.


When the Iranian women caught on that we were Israelis, we insisted on our Ecuadorian origins, in order to avoid what would have become a violent incident.

But our efforts were caught on film and became viral on social platforms and the Arab media, to show how cowardly the Israeli journalists are.


Unfortunately, the Israeli right-wing, also shared the video clip to show our cowardice.


Despite believing, as openminded liberals, that the conflict with the Arab world is between governments and not the people, Qatar has taught us that the hate exists in the minds of the man on the street.


They would truly like to see us whipped off the face of the earth and anything about Israel evokes their complete disgust.


From Qatar, the bickering in Israel seem silly. If we don't find a way to unite, if we continue to fight with each other, we will not be able to withstand the hatred directed towards us.


Palestinian flag raised at World Cup games

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