Some Israeli journalists who travelled to Qatar to report on the soccer World Cup were harassed and verbally abused by Arabs from several countries. The journalists were told that Israel has no right to exist and that most Arabs are opposed to any form of normalization with Israelis.
The hostile reception that the Israeli Jewish journalists received in Qatar -- a wealthy emirate that has for many years embraced radical Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood organization -- did not surprise those who are familiar with the ongoing massive incitement against Israel in some of the Arab countries.
What is disturbing is that a large portion of this incitement is coming from Arabs whose governments signed peace treaties or other agreements with Israel: Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians. The two Arab countries have peace treaties with Israel, while the Palestinian Authority signed in 1993 the Oslo Accord with Israel.
What is even more disturbing is that the hate against Israel is coming from Arabs who continue to benefit from unconditional US financial aid.
It is worth noting that since April 2021, the US has provided more than half a billion dollars in assistance to the Palestinians.
If the US thinks that showering money and concessions on the Palestinian leaders will lessen the tension, you heard it here first: this approach definitely will not work. All that will happen is that the hostilities will increase so that the bribes will increase. Giving hard, concrete gifts in exchange for soft promises is inevitably doomed from the start.
The peace treaties and the Oslo Accords, as well as US financial aid, have not stopped the Egyptians, Jordanians and Palestinians from pursuing their campaigns to spread hate against Israel and Jews.
The message these Arabs are sending to their people is that "Normalization with Israel is a crime and a form of treason." Another message is that "Israel has no right to exist, and all Arabs and Muslims should be engaged in a jihad (holy war) to eliminate it."
It is because of such messages that the Arab fans attending the World Cup in Qatar displayed such a large degree of hostility when they found out about the presence of Israeli Jewish journalists in the Gulf state.
The journalists are now saying that they were not aware of the extent of hostility toward Israel in the Arab world. That is likely because these journalists do not understand Arabic or else chose to ignore the messages that were being transmitted to the Arabs for decades through mosques, political leaders and the media in the Arab world.
The Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, continues to spearhead the Arab campaign of incitement and delegitimization against Israel. In addition to the incendiary rhetoric, the Palestinian Authority does not hide its vehement opposition to any kind of peace with Israel.
In its latest tirade against Israel, Abbas's ruling Fatah faction claimed that Israeli counter-terrorism measures, designed to save the lives of Jews and Arabs alike, are acts of "terrorism and war crimes." According to the logic of the Palestinian Authority, a terror attack against Israel is legitimate and the perpetrator is a hero and martyr, but an Israeli action to stop terrorism is illegitimate.
This is the same Palestinian Authority that maintains good relations with the Biden administration, which recently decided to upgrade US relations with Abbas and his associates in the West Bank.
Reacting to the Israeli security crackdown on terrorists in the West Bank, Abbas's Fatah faction said:
"The Tel Aviv government continues its criminal policies every day, benefiting from the silence of world governments, the inaction of the American administration, the insistence of some Arabs on normalization, and the weakness of the international system."
What does one learn from this statement?
First, the term "Tel Aviv government" suggests that the Palestinians do not recognize any part of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Palestinian leadership claims that it wants to make only east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Yet, the statement shows that the Palestinians believe Israel has no right even to west Jerusalem, and its capital should be Tel Aviv.
Second, the allegation that Israel is committing "war crimes" can be seen as a direct call to Palestinians to engage in violence against Israelis. The "war crimes" libel is also intended for Western audiences as part of the campaign to delegitimize Israel and pave the way for prosecuting its leaders before international courts.
Third, the statement by the ruling Fatah faction, also headed by Mahmoud Abbas, clearly states that the Palestinians are opposed to normalization between Israel and the Arab countries. Fatah accuses some Arab countries of "insisting" on normalizing their ties with Israel. This allegation should be seen as a direct call to Arabs to revolt against their leaders for choosing to make peace with Israel and seeking security and economic cooperation with it.
The anti-normalization campaigns in Egypt and Jordan are as strong as the Palestinian incitement against Israel.
Last week, the General Syndicate of the Egyptian Writers' Union referred writers Youssef Zaidan, Ala' Al-Aswany and Mona Prince to be investigated on charges of "normalization with Israel." The syndicate threatened, if they are found guilty, to expel them from its ranks.
The reason for referring Zaidan to be investigated was because he had announced that he was willing to lecture at an Israeli university. He is also suspected of having expressed support for establishing relations between Egyptian and Israeli intellectuals.
Prince is accused of promoting normalization with Israel because she appeared in pictures with the Israeli ambassador to Egypt.
Al-Aswany is facing dismissal from the Egyptian Writer's Union after being accused of giving an interview to the Israeli media.
In the past, the Egyptian Writers' Union expelled the prominent writer Ali Salem for allegedly supporting normalization with Israel.
Egypt has enjoyed the benefit of more than $51 billion in US taxpayer-funded military aid since the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979.
In Jordan, hardly a week passes without a demonstration or rally against normalization with Israel.
Again, it is worth noting that this incitement against Israel is being spread despite the ongoing massive US financial aid to Jordan. On November 27, Jordan received another US grant to support the kingdom's budget: $845 million. The grant comes as part of the US economic assistance program to the Jordanian government, as part of the third memorandum of understanding signed by Jordan and the US for 2018-2022.
The enemies of Israel and the US are celebrating the mistreatment of the Israeli journalists during the World Cup in Qatar. The enemies of peace are thrilled that many Arabs seized the opportunity of the World Cup to express their hatred for Israel and desire to see it replaced with an Iranian-backed Islamist terror state.
Palestinian writer Charhabil Al-Ghareeb, in an article published by Al-Mayadeen, the mouthpiece of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror militia, wrote:
"What happened in the World Cup in Qatar this year constitutes a new slap in the face to 'Israel', which has been exploiting any event to find popular acceptance in the Arab and Islamic circles... The World Cup constituted a golden opportunity for the Arabs to voice their opposition to normalization with 'Israel' and block its attempt to appear as a natural entity in the region."
These scenes of hatred displayed on the streets of Qatar against Israeli Jews should serve as a wake-up call to all those who have long been turning a blind eye to the anti-Israel incitement in the Arab world. Sadly, the hostility toward the journalists also serves as a reminder that there are many people in the Arab world who have still not come to terms with the legitimate presence of the State of Israel.
One way to counter this campaign of hate and to encourage peace is for the US to make its financial aid conditional on ending the rhetoric of hate. So far, however, it is clear that the US has no intention of demanding anything in return for its money.
For the time being, then, many Arabs will continue to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the US while continuing actively to seek the destruction of Israel and being financially rewarded for it.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.