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December 17, 2013 2

Qatari Book Fair Highlighting UK Partnership Marred By Anti-Semitism

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British and Qatari offi­cials tour book fair

The Doha Inter­na­tional Book Fair, held in Qatar on Decem­ber 4–14 and billed as part of “Qatar-UK 2013” — a year of “events to cel­e­brate and develop the part­ner­ship between Qatar and the United King­dom” — fea­tured many anti-Semitic books from sev­eral dif­fer­ent pub­lish­ers and avail­able from mul­ti­ple book sellers. 

A state­ment from the Qatari Min­is­ter of Cul­ture on the fair’s web­site noted that the UK was selected as the “guest of honor.” The fair’s web­site also included a photo of the British Min­is­ter of Cul­ture with his Qatari coun­ter­part vis­it­ing the event.

The anti-Semitic Arabic-language books were avail­able at the fair, accord­ing to the web­site, which included a floor index of where vis­i­tors could phys­i­cally pur­chase the book.

For exam­ple, sev­eral pub­lish­ers from Syria, Egypt, Jor­dan and Lebanon offered dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the noto­ri­ous anti-Semitic forgery The Pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion and sold them at var­i­ous prices. Another anti-Semitic book titled, The Secrets of the Tal­mud, Expos­ing the Jew­ish Plot to Con­trol the World, was sold for 75.00 Qatari Rials (about 20 US$).

Books pro­mot­ing Hitler, Holo­caust denial and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries were on dis­play in var­i­ous sec­tions (e.g., The Facts About the Zionist-Nazi Secrete Rela­tions).

Accord­ing to Qatari media, the British Embassy in Doha and the British Cul­tural Coun­cil helped orga­nize British par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fair. The UK helped orga­nize “work­shops for fam­i­lies, chil­dren and book enthu­si­asts,” accord­ing to the fair website.

The sale of anti-Semitic books is counter to the fair’s mis­sion, as stated on its web­site, of “rais­ing the cul­tural and intel­lec­tual level of the soci­ety.” It also under­mines the larger aim of “Qatar-UK 2013,” which seeks to “increase engage­ment between the peo­ple of both coun­tries in the spirit of inno­va­tion, open­ness and learning.”

Just last month, the Shar­jah Inter­na­tional Book Fair (SIBF) in the United Arab Emi­rates, which report­edly attracted 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors from across the region, fea­tured sev­eral infa­mous anti-Semitic books as well.

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October 22, 2013 0

Flag At Swim Competition In Qatar Triggers Hatred Toward Israel

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Screen­shot of Twit­ter post denounc­ing dis­play of Israeli flag at the FINA Swim­ming World Cup in Qatar.

Pho­tos of an Israeli flag at the FINA Swim­ming World Cup in Doha, Qatar, trig­gered a wave of angry reac­tions on Twit­ter, includ­ing calls for future sports boy­cotts against Israel.

While it is notable that Israeli swim­mers par­tic­i­pated in the Octo­ber 20–21 com­pe­ti­tion — includ­ing Amit Ivry, win­ner of a sil­ver medal - hun­dreds of Twit­ter users, includ­ing Qatari jour­nal­ists, took to Twit­ter to express shock at their government’s deci­sion to allow the Israeli flag to fly out­side the Hamad Aquatic Cen­ter along with flags rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous other coun­tries com­pet­ing in the event.

Many of the Tweets con­demned the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Israeli team and demanded the removal of the flag form out­side the Aquatic Cen­ter. Oth­ers Tweets protested what they described as the “nor­mal­iz­ing of rela­tions with the Zion­ist Entity.” Sev­eral users posted an image of a poster that reads, “Israel not-welcomed in Qatar.”

Reports from the region indi­cate that the Israeli flag was taken down before the end of the event in response to the reac­tion on Twit­ter. A graphic of the Israeli flag was also dis­torted on the tele­vi­sion broad­cast of the event when an Israeli swim­mer medaled.

One Twit­ter user wrote, “Boy­cott should become uni­ver­sal; one of the results should be to ban the Zion­ist Entity from play­ing in the World Cup with an offi­cial FIFA res­o­lu­tion.” The FIFA World Cup is sched­uled to be played in Qatar in 2022.

This inci­dent raises con­cerns over Qatar’s abil­ity to host inter­na­tional sport­ing events with­out suc­cumb­ing to pres­sure from those who seek to politi­cize sports.

As more Arab coun­tries host inter­na­tional sport­ing events, some Israeli ath­letes have encoun­tered chal­lenges.  Most inter­na­tional sport­ing fed­er­a­tions man­date that host coun­tries allow all qual­i­fy­ing ath­letes to com­pete. How­ever, in 2009, the United Arab Emi­rates refused to issue a visa to Israeli ten­nis star Sha­har Peer to enable her to com­pete in the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship, a stop on the Women Ten­nis Asso­ci­a­tion (WTA) tour. The bar­ring of Peer vio­lated the guide­lines of the WTA (which were sub­se­quently tight­ened fur­ther) and the UAE was forced to pay a fine.

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August 21, 2013 2

Al Jazeera America Debut Featuring Stephen Walt Casts Doubt Over Network’s Objectivity

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Stephen Walt (right) appears on Al Jazeera America

August 20 marked the much antic­i­pated pre­miere of Al Jazeera Amer­ica, the Qatari government-backed 24-hour news broad­caster that has sought to make greater inroads in the Amer­i­can mar­ket in recent years. Although the net­work has striven to assure the pub­lic that it will present the news in an objec­tive man­ner, Al Jazeera America’s debut news seg­ment cast imme­di­ate doubt over its impartiality.

Their pro­gram on Tues­day fea­tured an inter­view with anti-Israel pro­fes­sor and author Stephen Walt dis­cussing the tur­moil in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s choice of Walt as its first guest raises early ques­tions regard­ing the network’s claimed inten­tion to pro­vide the Amer­i­can pub­lic sto­ries that are “impar­tial, accu­rate and comprehensive.” 

Stephen Walt, an Inter­na­tional Affairs Pro­fes­sor at the Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, is best known for his anti-Israel posi­tion as described in his 2007 book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. For­eign Pol­icy,” co-authored with John Mearsheimer. Walt is a pro­po­nent of a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and has sev­eral times accused the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. of exer­cis­ing exces­sive power to sti­fle crit­i­cism of Israel.

Prior to the launch of Al Jazeera Amer­ica, the net­work received con­sid­er­able praise from jour­nal­ists, such as Soledad O’Brien and John Seigen­thaler, who were assured that the new sta­tion would focus more on Amer­i­can issues and less on opin­ions and inter­na­tional news. Accord­ing to Ehab Al Shi­habi, Al Jazeera America’s act­ing chief exec­u­tive, “Al Jazeera Amer­ica will air fact-based, unbi­ased and in-depth news.” 

Since the Qatar-based net­work announced the cre­ation of Al Jazeera Amer­ica in early 2013, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed its ongo­ing con­cerns about the pan-Arab satel­lite network’s “trou­bling record” of pro­vid­ing a plat­form to all man­ner of vir­u­lent anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic extrem­ists. Al Jazeera America’s deci­sion to fea­ture Walt on its inau­gural broad­cast was not an aus­pi­cious beginning.

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