The soccer World Cup in Qatar is increasingly becoming an event centered around politics rather than sport.
Following the Moroccan victory over Belgium in the tournament earlier this week, the European country declared a state of emergency due to anarchic celebrations staged by fans of Morocco. Mobs of Moroccan immigrants also took to the streets of the Netherlands to rave and riot over the victory.
The problem is that it's often hard to differentiate between the Arab expression of joy and celebration, and that of hatred.
Despite having won the game, the Moroccan rioters smashed and set fire to whatever was in their way.
The Israeli journalists who have encountered hostility in Qatar should thank their lucky stars that they have so far faced only verbal violence, and not the physical one, which manifested in Brussels.
Still, there is a feeling of frustration. Israelis flocked to Qatar for the tournament thinking they would be able to reap the fruits of the Abraham Accords. Instead, Israelis were confronted upon their arrival with barrages of hate speech and abuse.
Over in Qatar, Israel is not considered a legitimate state - instead, the Jewish state is known as "the colonialist apartheid entity."
Indeed, maybe some Israelis were a bit naïve in thinking a Muslim Brotherhood-run state would welcome us with open arms and "ahlan wa sahlan" (ed-welcome in Arabic).
For decades, the Palestinian issue has been a political resource for the Arab world to prop up the hatred. It is known that oppressive regimes are often desperate for a scapegoat to convince the Arabs that they are never at fault for the crimes committed them, and the Jewish state fits that role perfectly.
The incitement is still alive and breathing. The only country, aside from Iran, in which the level of incitement against Israel is parallel to that of somebody like Hamas - is Qatar. In addition, hundreds of millions of people are exposed to anti-Israel propaganda by the Al Jazeera network - based in the Qatari capital of Doha - which speaks for itself.
Despite the letdown felt by the Israelis from the hostility in Qatar, it should be emphasized that this problem is one that belongs to the Arab world. The Arabs create their own wars, among themselves, within state borders and outside of them.
However, there are other faces of the Arab world. Every Israeli who has been to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, or Morocco, can testify that the vibes there are completely different.
Also, needless to say, within every country there is an array of opinions. Most areas in Morocco are welcoming, although there are extreme Islamist sectors there as well.
Furthermore, it's important to remember that majority is not a necessary condition for riots to break out, like in Belgium and Holland.
To look deeper into what the majorities of these countries believe is beneficial. Surveys conducted by the Arab American Institute (AAI) in Washington DC reveal a dramatic change in Arab public opinion. The findings from 2019 showed that 84% of the population in the UAE supports normalization with Israel even without peace with the Palestinians, 79% in Saudi Arabia, 73% in Egypt, 72% in Jordan, 49% in Lebanon, and even 39% in the Palestinian Authority.
An additional survey, also by the AAI, was conducted following the signing of the Abraham Accords, reflecting a little less optimism. Still, 41-42% of the populations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan supported normalization without peace with the Palestinians, 56% in the UAE, and 31% in the Palestinian Authority.
These results shine a light on the fact that most of these countries have a substantial amount of people in them, who recognize and support the prospect of peace with the Jewish state. Overall, this is a sign of hope and a reason to be optimistic.
There certainly is a hostile environment in Doha, due to the overwhelming Palestinian presence and the regime's opposition to Israel's existence.
However, the popular claim that the hostility due to "the occupation" does not hold water. If they don't believe in Israel's existence, the alleged occupation is not of concern to them, they don't want us here at all, period.
To sum up, the rage of those who were brainwashed to hate does not need much effort to spark up. This is exactly the case in Doha - where Arabs take out their anger on Israelis, and likewise in Brussels - where immigrants take out their anger on the country they live in. There is no occupation in Belgium, no national conflict. And nevertheless, just as Israelis encounter verbal violence, Belgians encounter physical violence.
So let's do ourselves a favor, and look at the glass half full. We can even see the glass as more than half full - the Arab world is not a monolith represented by Doha. There is also Casablanca, Marrakesh, and Dubai.
The conflict with the Palestinians must be solved. This is what's right for Israel, not because Hamas or Al-Jazeera claims it to be true.