December 1, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10349

Saudi Journalist: It Is Wrong To Attack Israeli Reporters Covering The World Cup In Qatar

December 1, 2022
Qatar, Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 10349

Following several incidents in which Israeli reporters and media crews who are covering the World Cup in Qatar were verbally attacked by Arab and Muslim football fans, Saudi journalist Hani Al-Zahiri wrote an unusual article condemning this phenomenon and calling to end it. Al-Zahiri argued that these extremist fans represent only themselves, and that their actions do not benefit the Palestinian cause but only harm the reputation of the Arabs and Muslims. A person who attacks someone just because of his identity is a racist, he said, nor is it justified to attack a reporter, who is merely doing his job, over the policy of his country. Al-Zahiri advised the fans to enjoy the games and leave politics out of sports, and stressed that Islam is "a peaceful religion that enjoins its followers to be kind to everyone, especially to the Jews and Christians." The real problem that must be addressed, he concluded, is the extremist incitement that sows hatred in the minds of the Arab and Muslim masses.

It should be noted that Emirati journalist 'Ali Al-Hammadi, writing on his Twitter account, likewise criticized those who harass the Israeli reporters in Qatar. He called them rabble-rousers whose behavior harms only them and their morality, not the Israelis, who refrain from answering them."[1]

Israeli reporter Moav Vardi being verbally attacked by a Saudi football fan in Qatar (, November 26, 2022)

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[2]

"'When you go home, tell your friends and everyone you know that we Jews [sic] will survive forever.' That was the answer given a few days ago by an Israeli reporter who was covering the World Cup in Qatar when a man verbally attacked him and pelted him with curses just because of his identity, [as can be seen] in a video that was widely circulated on social media.[3] The video sparked many responses, and the responses were naturally mixed. But the truth… is that the man who attacked the Israeli reporter, wanting to perform an act of verbal heroism, actually found himself giving the world a mistaken impression, namely that the Arabs and Muslims are Nazis, and that the Israelis will survive their hatred and hostility, just as they survived the attempts to exterminate them throughout their history. An Israeli reporter seen in another video, who was also verbally abused by extremist fans just because of his identity, did not respond but only held up his hand in a gesture of appeasement.[4] At the same time he turned to the cameraman to make sure the incident was being filmed, obviously because he wanted to show it to the world, in order to convey the same message conveyed by his colleague. He was very successful at this, for the video unfortunately spread like wildfire and went viral on social media.

"The truth that does not reach [the viewers] and that nobody bothers to convey to them is that the extremist represent only themselves, and that the nations and religions to which they belong have nothing to do with their individual behavior and actions. A person who attacks someone just because of his identity is a racist, nor does any law or convention justify attacking someone for the policy of his country.

"All fans attending the World Cup must understand that a reporter, no matter his nationality or identity, is just doing his job of covering this global event, and that the purpose of attending the World Cup is to enjoy the football while avoiding all political or cultural conflict. The best proof of this is that the Israeli and Palestinian reporters who came to cover this global event flew to Qatar on the same plane, despite the political disagreements between them. Moreover, thousands of Arabs of Palestinian origin have for years been working in official Israeli bodies, from the Israeli Knesset to the IDF, building Israeli settlements, and [working] in other places.  So is the extremist who attacked the Israeli reporter more worried about the Palestinian cause than the Palestinians themselves?!

"The message that must reach the world is that the Muslims and Arabs have no problem at all with the Jewish people. On the contrary, Islam is a peaceful religion that enjoins its followers to be kind to everyone, especially to the Jews and Christians, because they are People of the Book[5] and because all the prophets to the Jews are revered by the Muslims. Moreover, Arab culture stresses that the Arabs and Jews are cousins, in terms of their identity and religion, of course. As for politics, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a purely political one, and it is handled by the Palestinian and Israeli politicians at the negotiation table. They negotiated for a long time, deriving some benefits, and in the future they will sit down [to negotiate some more], because that is the nature of politics.

"Furthermore, it is impossible to ignore the influence of the mechanisms that seek to stoke extremist sentiments among the masses.  These mechanisms have been targeting the Middle East peoples for decades, seeking to sow hatred among the simple folk, those people who are not involved in politics and in international causes. The result is that their perception was distorted, in an attempt to deprive them of their humanity, for the sake of causes that have nothing to do with their lives and the reality of their countries [i.e., the Palestinian-Israeli conflict]. That is the real problem that must be addressed."



[1], November, 26, 2022.

[2] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), November 30, 2022.

[3] The reference is to an incident in which a fan said to Raz Shechnik, a reporter for the Israeli daily Yedi'oth Aharonoth," that he is not welcome in Qatar and that Israel does not exist, only Palestine. Shechnik responded that  "Israel exists… We will survive forever. Remember that when you go home. Tell your friends you cannot beat Israel forever" (, November 28, 2022).

[4] This refers to an incident in which a Saudi fan said to Moav Vardi, a reporter for the Israeli Kan channel, "You are not welcome here… There is only Palestine, no Israel" (, November 26, 2022).

[5] The People of the Book is a Quranic term for the Jews and Christians, who are granted special status in Islam, different from that of the polytheist infidels.

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