Over the last week, fans from Arab states in Qatar have bullied and boycotted Israeli fans and journalists.
“The sea is the same sea and the Arabs are the same Arabs,” former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir famously said in 1996, after the Oslo Accords, meant to bring peace with our neighbors, ended with a wave of Palestinian terrorism across Israel. The “sea” was a reference to a once-common trope of Arab leaders calling to drive the Jewish usurpers into the Mediterranean.
Twenty-six years later, a group of Israeli journalists are learning the same thing at the World Cup in Qatar, despite the sea change of the Abraham Accords with four Arab states in 2020.
Of course, it is not fair to paint all Arabs – or any ethnic or national group – with a broad brush as Shamir pithily did. And in this case, it’s the fact that there are Arab leaders and citizens of their country that bucked the trend that seem to have lulled some Israelis into complacency that Israel has somehow become beloved in the Middle East, when that simply is not the case.