Israeli Journalists and Fans Report Widespread Hostility, Discrimination by World Cup Attendees From Arab States

Israeli fans and journalists attending the World Cup in Qatar say they have been greeted by hostility and hate.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli soccer legend and KAN World Cup panel member Eli Ohana encountered anti-Israel sentiments when he was on a golf cart being driven by a Qatari police officer. Ohana identified himself as Israeli and the officer asked him if he was joking. Ohana replied that he was Portuguese to avoid trouble and the officer told him that if he had been Israeli, he would have turned the car around and refused to drive him.

KAN’s foreign affairs reporter Moav Vardy had a Saudi fan yell at him, “You are not welcome here. This is Qatar. This is our country. There is only Palestine; no Israel.”

Dor Hoffman, an Israeli journalist reported on Thursday that a Qatari taxi driver kicked him out of his cab when he discovered he was Israeli.

He added that later he was escorted out of a beachfront restaurant by security and the owner demanded that he delete every photo taken in his restaurant. Hoffman claimed that the owner took his phone and that he felt threatened.

According to the Associated Press, six Israeli diplomats are set up at a travel agency office in Doha, ready to respond to any potential crisis. However, the Foreign Ministry has launched a campaign urging Israelis to lie low to avoid potential problems.

Alon Lavie, a member of the delegation told the outlet, “We want to avoid any friction with other fans and local authorities… We want to remind [Israelis] ... you don't need to shove your fingers in other people's eyes.”

Videos from Qatar on social media show people walking away when they find out the person interviewing them is Israeli, with many celebrating those that refused interviews.

In one of the videos featuring N12's Ohad Hemo, a group of Lebanese men walk away when Hemo tells them he’s Israeli during an interview. One of them then turns back and tells Hemo that Israel doesn’t exist.

In other videos, people stand behind Israeli reporters during live shots and raise Palestinian flags.

Tal Shorrer, Israel's Channel 13 sports reporter claimed that he has been shoved, insulted and accosted by Palestinians and other Arab fans during his live broadcasts. A few Arab fans yelled as they slammed into him, “You are killing babies!”

Shorrer told the AP that “while interactions with Qatari officials had been perfectly pleasant, the streets were a different story. He said he advises Israeli fans to hide their Jewish kippas and ditch their Stars of David so as not to provoke hostility. When a cellphone salesman noticed his friend's settings in Hebrew, he exploded with anger, screaming at the Israeli to get out of Doha. ‘I was so excited to come in with an Israeli passport, thinking it was going to be something positive,’ he said. ‘It's sad, it's unpleasant. People were cursing and threatening us.’”

In a video, Yediot Ahronoth’s reporter for the World Cup Raz Shechnick attempted to talk to a man with a Palestinian flag who refused and said “there’s nothing called Israel; it’s just Palestine.” Women nearby in keffiyehs agreed with him.

In another incident, a group of Morocco fans realized Shechnick was from Israel and began to walk away. Shechnik said, “New friend! We have peace,” referencing the Abraham Accords between Israel and Morocco to which the Moroccan fans replied, “Israel, no! Palestinians.”

Like Ohana, he also described an incident in which he and a colleague lied about their country of origin to avoid being harassed by fans.

Shechnik tweeted, "I was always a centrist, liberal and open with a will for peace before all. I always thought the problem was governments...But in Qatar, I saw how much hatred there was among people in the street, how interested they are in erasing us from the earth, how everything connected to Israel arouses hatred in them."

"We didn’t want to write these words, we are not the story here," Shechnik added about the hostility in Qatar. "But after 10 days in Doha, we cannot hide what we are going through. We are feeling hated, surrounded by hostility, not welcomed.”



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