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October 22, 2013

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

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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July 16, 2013

Latest Khaiber Episodes Establish Anti-Jewish Narrative

The first five episodes of Khaiber, the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar television series that dra­ma­tizes the geno­cide of Jews in Ara­bia in the 7th cen­tury, have aired across the Arab world.khaiber-episodes-3-4-5

The first two episodes revealed the degree to which clas­si­cal anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives are being pro­moted in the program. The latest three episodes, described below, are a continuation of those themes.

ADL first raised concern about Khaiber and its anti-Jewish content in February 2013. In addition, ADL has exposed the program’s Egyptian writer, Yusri Al-Jindy, who has had pre­vi­ously depicted Israelis and Jews as blood­thirsty sav­ages, and the expressions of anti-Semitism by var­i­ous peo­ple asso­ci­ated with the production.

Episode 3

In this episode, several Rabbis are shown responding with anger to the news that a new prophet appeared in Mecca. One of the Rabbis, Al-Harith says, “We will reject him as we rejected Christ.”

The Rabbis then discuss testing Mohammed with a series of questions in order to verify his status as a prophet. However, most agree that even if Mohammed answers the questions correctly, they will not recognize him. “If we declare him a prophet, it would be against the interest of the Jews… can you guarantee that he will be of benefit to us, where is our interest in this?” Ben Akhtab, the Grand Rabbi asks. He then explains that it is in the interest of the Jews to create an alliance with the Meccans because the Jews require their power and money.

In addition, a blind Rabbi named Shas, who wears a large Star of David necklace, is depicted as a vicious person who is more concerned about money than religion. He reveals his hatred to Mohammed by saying that he is an “imposter and a liar.”

Episode 4

In this episode, Ben Akhtab conspires to kill the one “good” Rabbi in the show, who believes that Muhammad is a real Prophet (the Rabbi survives the assassination attempt). Ben Akhtab, also decides to make a deal with one of his Arab prisoners – in return for killing Mohammed, the prisoner will be granted his freedom (the prisoner escapes and avoids having to take part in the plot).

Episode 5

In this episode, the Jews create an alliance with Ibn Aubay, a prominent Arab leader whose ambition is to be the king of Yathrib and control the two rival Arab tribes who live there; the Al-Aws and Al-Khazra tribes.

When fighting erupts between the Arab tribes, Rabbi Shas tells Rabbi Ben Akhtab, “Let them kill each other until termination.” Ben Akhtab responds, “This is against our interests…. No for letting them terminate each other; Yes to creating an alliance with Ibn Aubay in order to become their masters.”

Ben Akhtab also claims, “The solution is in the papers of Jewish scholars; with any king or tyrant we must appease him, contain him, and connect our interests with his interests.”

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