Qatar has long refused to normalise with Israel, while continuing to express its support for the Palestinian cause.
Several restaurants and cafes in Qatar have expressed their staunch rejection of the the Israeli occupation, displaying signs on their entrances saying: “This place supports the boycott of apartheid Israel.”
Other signs, both in Arabic and English, also say:”This place supports Palestine.”
The latest initiative was led by Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalisation (QAYON), a Doha-based pro-Palestine group, to further protest the presence of Zionists in the Gulf state.
The group urged business owners to join the initiative, saying it is yet another chance to actively support the Palestinian cause.
“We acknowledge that you will not accept that those usurpers of your land have access to the services provided by your businesses, while they practice violence against your brothers in Palestine and desecrate your sanctities,” QAYON tweeted last week.
People in Qatar praised the restaurants and cafes that displayed the signs, as Qataris collectively stressed that the cause remains more important to them than ever.
“All thanks, love and appreciation to the owners of the cafe [Frame]. And yes…the Palestinian cause is the heartbeat of free hearts and our sacred cause until liberation,” Jassim Fakhroo, CEO of the International Public Relations Association, said.
Before the tournament kicked off, Qatar flatly refused for Israel to operate a temporary consulate in Doha during the World Cup. Instead, Israeli citizens are provided consular services via a privately-operated international travel company located in an office building.
The Gulf state had also pressed Israel to allow Palestinians to travel to Qatar to enjoy the World Cup.
At the heart of the World Cup
The 2022 World Cup – the first to ever take place in the Arab world – has seen the Palestinian flag soaring at every stadium and street to highlight a cause that is central to the region. People in Qatar have been spotted handing out armbands and flags to further encourage displays of Palestine solidarity.
Chants supporting Palestine are also heard on a daily basis at stadiums and touristic hot spots, further showing that the people of the region and beyond have maintained their unwavering stance on the Israeli occupation.
In yet another powerful show of solidarity, football fans have heckled Israeli media in Doha by waving the Palestinian flag in front of their lens. Palestinians living under occupation face arrest and killings by Zionist forces for doing the same in their homeland.
The Israeli press has also been accused of attempting to provoke the people of Qatar, causing many to ignore their requests for interview.
More recently, some Israeli journalists have been posing as nationals of other countries. In one viral video, the fans were easily able to identify an Israeli journalist who tried to convince them he was from Ecuador.
Some Israeli outlets were even seen removing their logos from the microphones when approaching football fans.
Viral videos also show fans repeating to Tel Aviv’s media that “there is no such thing as Israel”.
The gestures highlight the stark difference between the stances maintained by Arab populations and those of their governments, which have normalised ties with Israel.
In 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords that officially marked the normalisation of ties with Israel. Other nations that joined in the shocking wave of normalisation the following year, including Morocco and Sudan.
Qatar has maintained its staunch refusal to normalise with Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and carries out flagrant human rights violations.
Earlier this month, Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khater said that Palestine will remain present in Qatar’s “conscience” throughout the World Cup.
“We expect to celebrate [the World Cup] with thousands of our brothers and sisters from Palestine and we affirm here that their cause and our just cause in Palestine will always remain present in our conscience,” Al-Khater said while taking aim at crimes committed by the Israeli occupation.