Arab supporters rejecting interviews with Israeli journalists are denying legitimacy to the state’s apartheid system.
This month, a large number of Israeli journalists traveled to Doha to cover the World Cup. Some turned the trip into an effort to get the Arab public to “speak to Israel.” However, in repeated interactions captured on social media, fans have politely declined the offer in a variety of ways.
Upon learning the reporter was from Israel, some people simply walked away, while others refused to converse or expressed their support for the Palestinian cause.
The Israeli “journalistic mission” in Qatar and other places is driven by politics of recognition. These journalists, like a sizable portion of the Israeli public, as well as the western media, seem to have come to the conclusion that, in the wake of shifting geopolitical dynamics throughout the Arab world, Palestine and Palestinians have vanished from the Arab consciousness.
These geopolitical shifts, according to Israeli and western pundits, have amounted to a miniature conclusion to Middle Eastern history. The so-called Abraham Accords and the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab states in 2020 were made possible, in their view, in large part because of the presumptive “disappearance” of Palestinians.
Perhaps there is no better time to experience the benefits of normalization than during a World Cup that is being hosted by an Arab nation that has temporarily allowed Israeli media outlets to freely travel to and report from Qatar, despite the fact that Qatar has no official relations with Israel. According to reports, some Israeli journalists have made it their mission to demonstrate that the Arab people, not just Arab regimes, were also complicit in the Zionist colonial project by making peace with it or, to put it another way, caving in.
In this sense, “speaking to Israel” is interpreted as an act of recognition or at the very least as a strong indicator of moving closer to the vanishing end of settler-colonialism in Palestine. The end goal necessitates the expulsion of the local population and the legalization of Israel’s sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Normalization Project
In Qatar, they discovered the opposite. Even though the Palestine Liberation Organization and some Arab regimes have recognized Israel, it has completely failed to win over Arab public opinion.
In this context, “speaking to Israel” refers to efforts to win support from the general public in order to normalize and legitimize the Israeli settler-colonial system, which continues to evict Palestinians. Thus, regardless of how many “peace” agreements Israel signs with Arab regimes, Arab citizens who choose to remain silent are clearly stating to those in authority in the Middle East and the West that they oppose normalization without justice.
Arab supporters have held up a mirror in front of Israeli cameras instead of “speaking,” bringing to the attention of the audience Palestine, which Israeli media has steadfastly tried to forget. The ongoing Nakba (catastrophe) since 1948, settler colonialism, ethnic cleansing, occupation, and Palestinian refugees are all brought to the attention of Israeli journalists and their audiences by this. In the 48th minute of the Morocco-Belgium game, Moroccan football supporters made a reference to this during the World Cup by raising a banner reading “Free Palestine.”