'We encounter mostly hate': Israeli reporters' notebook from Qatar

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 normalized ties with Israel

Raz Shechnik, Oz Mualem|
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 Qatar's capital of Doha, we cannot avoid sharing with our readers our experiences here.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • We feel hated, surrounded by hostility and unwanted. A nice Qatari who asked us if we were from Israel said he would have liked to welcome us but we, in fact, were not welcome.
    3 View gallery
    Palestinian flag raised during World Cup
    Palestinian flag raised during World Cup
    Palestinian flag raised during World Cup games
    (Photo: AP)
    "Get yourselves out of here, the sooner the better," he said without hesitation. And this from someone representing the host country, not some random tourist from Lebanon or wherever else.
    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 sport that we love.
    This is a dream come true, and yes, it's hard work but we would have agreed to sleep on the sidewalk and embrace Mexican fans to keep warm - if Qatari law had permitted.
    3 View gallery
    Saudi fans at the World Cup
    Saudi fans at the World Cup
    Saudi fans at the World Cup
    (Photo: Oz Moalem)
    But this experience is definitely not "fun." Far from it.
    Whenever we report, we are being followed at all times by Palestinians, Iranians, Qataris, Moroccans, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians and Lebanese - all giving us looks full of hate.
    Weirdly, the Saudi Arabian fans were different, and they greeted us with smiles.
    At first, we explained that we come in peace. We identified as Israelis. But by reaching out, we only end up entangled in arguments with Arabs, including abuse in a language we somewhat understand.
    Ynet reporters in Qatar
    (Oz Moalem)
    After awhile, we decided to claim we were Ecuadorian when someone would ask us where we were from.
    That enabled us to spend a week, covering a group of Iranian women after we were assured that as Israelis, we would not be given the chance to do so.
    We found out that much like Israelis, Muslims are fans of Brazil's national team. After one game, we approached the Brazilians who were celebrating to snap some photos. But at every attempt, Palestinian flags appeared in our frames and barrages of abuse were directed towards us. Once the anti-Israel brigade they even surrounded a fan from the Arab Israeli 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 Arab social media as a way to show how cowardly the Israeli journalists are. Unfortunately, the Israeli right-wing also shared the videos, also to demonstrate our "cowardice."
    3 View gallery
    Palestinian flag raised at World Cup games
    Palestinian flag raised at World Cup games
    Palestinian flag raised at World Cup games
    (Photo: AP)
    Despite believing, as open-minded liberals we are, that the conflict with the Arab world is between governments and not the people, Qatar has taught us that hate exists first and foremost in the minds of the man on the street.
    They would truly like to see us wiped off the face of the earth, and any notion of 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 toward us.
    We are very much looking forward to return home to our beloved country.
    Comments
    The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.