Australia/Israel Review

Scribblings: A scandalous World Cup

Sep 28, 2022 | Tzvi Fleischer

Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter

Scandalously, the FIFA World Cup will kick off in Qatar this coming November. 

I say “scandalously” for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar by the international soccer federation FIFA literally became a major scandal. There have been numerous bribery allegations against FIFA officials, and police investigations of them, since Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was essentially fired over corruption related to the Qatari and other recent World Cup bids.

Blatter has repeatedly conceded the decision to give the World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake”.

He’s right – the biggest scandal is that, unless one’s sole selection criterion is who is willing to spend the most money on the World Cup, it is hard to think of a country less appropriate as a host for that tournament than Qatar. 

Leaving aside the weather issues, which forced this year’s World Cup to be played in November rather than the traditional northern summer, awarding the contract to Qatar was a guarantee that the stadiums and other infrastructure would be built by something very closely akin to slave labour. 

Under the notorious kafala system for foreign workers in Qatar, workers are chained to their employers and condemned to unsanitary living quarters and meagre pay. Reports say thousands of these workers have been killed or severely injured while constructing the World Cup stadiums, with little or no compensation for their families back home.

While none of the Arab Gulf states are democracies, and all have serious human rights charges to answer, Qatar is arguably particularly horrendous in terms of its exploitation of foreign labour. In addition, Doha is the contemporary worst offender among Arab states in offering support for terrorist and extremist groups such as Hamas and the Taliban. 

While the princes and officials in Doha can appear smooth and reasonable to Westerners with whom they interact, what the Islamist Qatari regime actually believes and promotes internationally was recently underscored by revelations regarding the public pronouncements of a diplomat representing the regime. 

Qatar’s new Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Hend Al-Muftah (Image: Twitter)

Qatar’s new Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Hend Al-Muftah, has an appalling history of spreading antisemitism, homophobia, and conspiracy theories on social media. 

As the NGO UN Watch has documented, Al-Muftah has, among other things:

  • Written that “the Jews” focused their investments in industry and media, and thus “they dominated, tyrannized and ruled the world.” Also “American Zionist controls [sic] the U.S. media,” and “thus it is well-targeted for achieving their anti-Islam everywhere!”
  • Insisted that she learned at “a young age that the Jews are our enemies!” and recalled fondly “our daily morning anthem from my childhood: Palestine is our country, The Jews are our enemies, And salute to the flag.”
  • Called for the “expulsion of Jews from Palestine,” stressing this is “not only an important issue for the Palestinians, but our cause all, including you, me and us!” She also posted a video of a child reciting, “You sons of Judaism… By God…We will liberate Palestine, we will expel you and trample the last corpse of a cursed Zionist in Gaza with our honourable feet!”
  • Endorsed an article by notorious antisemitic writer Dr. Mustafa Mahmoud, accusing “the Talmud tribe and the Protocols tribe” – i.e., the Jews – of infecting Western civilisation with “obscenity and decadence, cocaine, crack, nudity, sex and violence.”
  • Repeatedly responded to mention of LGBTQI+ people with “May God curse them!”. She also referred to gay rights as “disgusting rights”, and,
  • Spread conspiracy theories including that Israel actually created al-Qaeda and indeed “hangs over every terrorist threat”; recommended a video accusing the Mossad of being behind the Sept. 11 attacks; claimed that France is a country of “fake freedom” which is “killing the freedom of innocent Muslims in Mali”; and accused US President Obama of murdering “innocent Muslims” in Afghanistan.

This is the sort of person Qatar feels should represent it internationally – and indeed Amb. Al-Muftah does appear rather representative of the extremists in charge in Doha. 

Together with the reality of how Qatar won the hosting rights, and the indefensible way the infrastructure for it was constructed, no one should watch the 2022 World Cup without a sense of disquiet, even horror, at where it is being played. 


Another PA Leader exposes unhinged Palestinian narrative 

Following up on last month’s column detailing how numerous official sources affiliated with the “moderate” Palestinian Authority (PA) insisted on doubling down on a claim by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians had suffered “50 Holocausts” at Israel’s hands, here is another example of unhinged claims from an official PA spokesperson. 

PA Presidential Advisor Mahmoud Habbash, in a sermon at a Ramallah mosque broadcast on official PA TV on Sept. 9, gave this explanation for Israel’s existence: 

Prime ministers, ministers of defence, and foreign ministers in the European colonialist countries… met in London, at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1902 or 1903. [They said:] ‘We must plant in the heart of this region an isolated entity, a nation that will be alien to the locals and their countries, but will be friendly to us. Let it be the Jews.’…They only used the Jews to accomplish colonialist, expansionist, and hostile goals.

He added: Did you know that when the British occupiers left in 1948 – having handed our country over to those [Jewish] foreigners – they stole the deposits that the Palestinians had in the banks?” (Translation by Middle East Media Research Institute.)

Needless to say, both these claims are false and absurd. Yet this is what Palestinians are being told by even their “moderate” leaders. It’s almost enough to make one despair of hopes for eventual peace.


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